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Life of Bethoven

By the age of 5, Beethoven was playing the violin under the tutelage of his father—also an accomplished musician. By the time he was 13, Beethoven was a concert organist. In his 20s he was already studying under the very watchful eyes of Haydn and Mozart. In fact, Mozart spoke prophetic words when he declared that Beethoven would give the world something worth listening to by the time his life ended.

As Beethoven began to develop his skills, he became a prolific composer. During his lifetime, he wrote nine majestic symphonies and five concertos for piano, not to mention numerous pieces of chamber music. Ludwig van Beethoven also wrote sonatas and pieces for violin and piano. He has thrilled us with the masterful works of unique harmony that broke with the traditions of his times. The man was a genius. Beethoven was not, however, a stranger to difficulties. During his twenties, he began to lose his hearing. His fingers “became thick,” he said on one occasion. He couldn’t feel the music as he once had. His hearing problem haunted him in the middle years of his life, but he kept it a well-guarded secret.

When he reached his fifties, Beethoven was stone deaf. Three years later he made a tragic attempt to conduct an orchestra and failed miserably. Approximately five years later, he died during a fierce thunderstorm. He was deaf, yet a magnificent musician. On one occasion, Beethoven was overheard shouting at the top of his voice as he slammed both fists on the keyboard, “I will take life by the throat!”

Swindoll, Charles, “Hand Me Another Brick,” pp. 190-191