Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

[Mentioned in Science and Health, p. 213; Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 11]

Beethoven's triumph over adversity and the victories which he won gave to his music enduring meaning and beauty. Today he is the most popular classical composer in an orchestra's repertoire.

His early instinct to compose and his delight in it were discouraged by his father, but Beethoven learned to hear and retain his melodies in his thought. His absorption with the music which he was hearing made the sensitive boy appear silent and aloof. Once when a friend reproved him for not replying to a question, he explained, "I was just occupied with such a lovely, deep thought I couldn't bear to be disturbed."

His childhood was not happy, for his father, an intemperate man, who sang at the Elector's Court, exploited his son's talents. His piano lessons began when he was four. He also had daily violin lessons and later was instructed on the viola. By the time he was eleven his first work had been published, and he was in the theater orchestra; at twelve he was conducting rehearsals. At thirteen he left school, began lessons with the court organist, and acted as his substitute. In his seventeenth year Beethoven visited Vienna and played for Mozart. On hearing his extemporizations, Mozart exclaimed, "Keep an eye on this young man—the world will hear of him some day."

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Signs of the Times
December 25, 1954

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