With the death of Beethoven's mother, the last steadying influence
on Beethoven's father was removed. The old singer unhesitatingly put the
bottle before Ludwig, his two younger brothers, and his one-year-old
sister. The situation became so bad that by 1789 Beethoven was forced
to show the mettle that was to stand him in
good stead later in life. He went resolutely to his father's
and demanded - and got - half his father's salary so that the
could be provided for; his father could
drink away the rest. In 1792 the old man died. No great grief
felt: as his employer put it, "That will deplete the revenue from
For four years Ludwig supported the family. He also made
friends, among them Stephan von Breuning, who became a friend for
and Doctor Franz Wegeler, who wrote one of the first biographies
Beethoven. Also, Count Ferdinand von Waldstein entered
circle and received the dedication of a famous piano sonata in
In July 1792 the renowned composer Haydn passed through Bonn
way to Vienna. He met Beethoven and was impressed, and perhaps
disturbed, by his work. Clearly, he felt, this young man's
needed to be controlled before it could be developed.
Beethoven left Bonn for good early in November 1792 to study
with Haydn in Vienna. However, if Haydn had hoped to "control"
Beethoven's talent he was fighting a losing battle. Beethoven's
strode towards the next century, heavily influenced by the
political and social tensions that ravaged Europe in the wake of
French Revolution. Haydn, who had been a musical trend setter
youth, found that Beethoven was advancing implacably along the
radical path. After realizing that Haydn was not the master he
looking for, Beethoven moved onto Albrechtsberger, another
musician who called him an "excited musical free-thinker".
Those first weeks in Vienna were hard for Beethoven.
were not forthcoming; expectations were unfulfilled. In addition
must have irked him, fired as he was by the current spirit of
to have to live in a tiny garret in Prince
Lichnowsky's mansion. Soon, however, the Prince gave him more
accommodation on the ground floor, and, mindful of the young
impetuous behavior, instructed the servants that Beethoven's bell
be answered even before the Prince's own!
Impetuosity was also a feature of his piano playing at this
In those days pianists were pitted against each other in front of
audiences to decide who could play more brilliantly and improvise
more imaginatively. Beethoven's rivals always retired, bloodied,
such combat. While he made enemies of many
pianists in Vienna, the nobility flocked to hear him. Personally
professionally his future looked bright. Compositions poured
and he gave concerts in Vienna as well as Berlin, Prague, and
important centers. His finances were secure enough
for him to set up his own apartments. He was the first composer
become a freelance by choice, as opposed to depending on patrons.
However, it was his skill as a pianist rather than as a composer
brought him recognition during his twenties.
He was one of Vienna's dominant music personalities surrounded by
aristocrats and famous musicians. Until the coming of his
had five principle resources: Pianoforte Playing, Teaching,
Dedications, and Concert-giving.
The first concert of his own responsibility occurred on April
1800 he launched his first Symphony and introduced his world
Septet op. 20. One year later, however, in 1801 his deafness
began to hit Beethoven, causing great turmoil in his life.