This Day in History (7-May-1824) – Beethoven, a deaf music composer’s, 9th (Chorale) Symphony, premieres in Vienna

At an early age, Ludwig van Beethoven, took an interest in music and his father, a musician at the court of Bonn, taught him day and night. In 1778, at the age of 7, Beethoven gave his first public performance at Cologne. At the age of 14, Beethoven was appointed as organist of the court of Prince Maximillian Franz, the Elector of Cologne. Maximillian sent Beethoven to Vienna, in 1787, to meet Mozart and further his musical education. Vienna was, the capital city in terms of culture and music then. Beethoven took lessons with Haydyn, Albrechtsberger and Salieri, the great musicans of the era. In 1794, Beethoven composed Opus 1, the Trios for Piano.

In 1800, Beethoven organized a new concert at Vienna including, notably, the presentation of his first symphony. This genius, Beethoven, who was still a young, new composer, was already pushing the established boundaries of music. The same time he relised that he was slowly going deaf. At Heiligenstadt in 1802 he wrote a famous text expressing his disgust at the unfairness of life: that he, a musician, could become deaf was something he did not want to live through. Knowing that his handicap was getting worse and worse, he threw himself into his greatest Beethoven music; Sonatas for Piano (notably The Storm, Opus 31), the second and the third symphonies– The Eroica and of course many more.

May 7th 1824 was the date of the first playing of the ninth symphony and despite the musical difficulties, and problems in the sung parts, it was a success. It remains the illustrious composer’s most towering achievement. The symphony’s famous choral finale, with four vocal soloists and a chorus singing the words of Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” is perhaps the most famous piece of music in history. His most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was quite unable to hear. His greatest late works include Missa Solemnis, a mass that debuted in 1824 and is considered among his finest achievements, and String Quartet No. 14, which contains seven linked movements played without a break.