When I was in high school, I read a number of biographies of composers, including Robert Haven Schauffler’s Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music. I don’t remember many specifics about the book, but I am quite sure that it had very little about what is to be found in my current reading about Beethoven, Jan Swafford’s more recent monumental biogra;phy, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph.
Here I just want to make a few comments about Bonn, where Ludwig was born in 1770 into a musical family, with both his grandfather and father professional musicians. Not distinguished ones, mind you. Bonn, then was ruled by a succession of aristocrats, who fostered the cultivation of music, a major and competitive “trade,” with the Elector, Max Franz, becoming a patron of young Ludwig.
He financed Ludwig’s first trip to Vienna and thus helped to introduce him to the city of his future. With the “leveling” effect of the spillover of the French Revolution, Bonn’s short time in the cultural sun came to an end, not to see stardom again—if that what it was—as the capital of West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Still, Bonn’s most significant claim to fame is as the birthplace of Beethoven, one of the three greatest composers ever. I’ll let you guess—not difficult—who are the other two.