Beethoven's Early Life

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Early life and talent

Kurfürstliches Schloss (Electoral Prince's Castle) in Bonn, where the Beethoven family had been active since the 1730s

House of birth, Bonn, Bonngasse
Beethoven's parents were Johann van Beethoven (1740 in Bonn–1792) and Maria Magdalena Keverich (1744 in Ehrenbreitstein–1787). Magdalena's father Johann Heinrich Keverich had been Chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier at Festung Ehrenbreitstein fortress opposite to Koblenz.[2] Beethoven was, like their first child Ludwig Maria, named after his grandfather Ludwig (1712–1773), a musician of Roman Catholic Flemish ancestry who was at one time Kapellmeister at the court of Clemens August of Bavaria, the Prince-Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, and who married Beethoven's grandmother Maria Josepha Ball (1714–1775) in 1733. Beethoven was born in Bonn, Electorate of Cologne, in 1770. Of the seven children born to Johann Beethoven, himself the only survivor of three, only second-born Ludwig and two younger brothers survived infancy. Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770.[3][4] Although his birth date is not known for certain, his family celebrated his birthday on December 16. Beethoven's first music teacher was his father, who was a tenor in the service of the Electoral court at Bonn. He was reportedly a harsh instructor. Johann later engaged a friend, Tobias Pfeiffer, to preside over his son's musical training, and it is said Johann and his friend would at times come home late from a night of drinking to pull young Ludwig out of bed to practice until morning. Beethoven's talent was recognized at a very early age, and by 1778 he was studying the organ and viola in addition to the piano. His most important teacher in Bonn was Christian Gottlob Neefe,[5] who was the Court's Organist. Neefe helped Beethoven publish his first composition: a set of keyboard variations.

A portrait of the thirteen-year-old Beethoven by an unknown Bonn master The young Beethoven's talent was spotted in...
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