Beethoven's Eroica Symphony is about to be played. The concert hall is packed, and an expectant hush has settled over the audience. The conductor raises his baton, checks the violins, the oboes, the French horns. The orchestra is ready. Then, suddenly, his baton cuts the air, and the force, the clear magic power of Beethoven rushes forth to envelope the audience.
Beethoven composed his beautiful music in Vienna, well over a hundred years ago. Born in the city of Bonn on the shores of the German Rhine, young Ludwig had displayed a talent for music from early childhood. Indeed, his father had high hopes that the boy would be a Wunderkind, a child prodigy like Wolfgang Mozart. But Ludwig, short and swarthy, failed to triumph at his concert debut in Cologne, and it was to take years of heartbreaking work before he would know success.
At last when success did come to him in Vienna, Beethoven poured all his love of freedom, his faith in man, his joy of nature into his work. He wrote concertos, symphonies, his opera Fidelio.
Then, at the peak of success and acclaim, deafness struck. Yet Beethoven's trust in himself, his belief that man must help himself, led him, in a world of silence, to write even greater works, and at last the Ninth, his greatest, his final symphony.
A simple biography suitable for upper elementary grades follows Ludwig van Beethoven from boyhood in Ronn, though years of creative achievement to old age in a world of silence. Factual narration outlines significant friendships with Haydn and Mozart and suggests the unsatisfactory relationship he had with his father, a shiftless man intent on exploiting his son. Beethoven's tenderness toward his nephew caused him years of worry. There is an introduction here to the names of the master's best known works, with no involved interpretations to confuse young readers.
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