Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most prolific and celebrated composers of the Classical and Romantic eras. We are collecting music, coverage and news about Beethoven from around Classical MPR and our affiliated programs. Have a look (and listen) and enjoy.

Beethoven's Life and Work

Stories about Beethoven, and the music he created.

  • Jonathan Biss, Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4New Classical Tracks: Terrifying, restless, witty
    Jonathan Biss is halfway through a nine–year, nine–disc recording project of the entire Beethoven sonata cycle. The most recent is volume four. Learn more about the project — including its educational component — and enter for a chance to win the CD.May 20, 2015
  • Cypress String Quartet Beethoven: Middle QuartetsNew Classical Tracks: The joy and tumult of Beethoven
    The Cypress String Quartet were first inspired to record Beethoven's late quartets. Now 'telling the story backwards', they are releasing a three-CD set of Beethoven's middle quartets, works that came at a tumultuous time in the composer's life.March 4, 2015
  • String Quartet, circa 1905Learning to Listen: Beethoven's Razumovsky Quartets
    Two members of the Cypress String Quartet join Learning to Listen to discuss Beethoven's "Middle String Quartets" - also known by the name of the Russian count who commissioned them, Andrey Razumovsky.March 2, 2015
  • Morning Glories: Birthday Beethoven
    This week brings us the birthday of the man who for many is the archetypal composer in the classical tradition, Ludwig van Beethoven (the evidence points to a December 16 birthday -- no one is absolutely sure). We'll note the anniversary with five Morning Glories, each in a different genre: sonata, symphony, string quartet, ballet, and choral.December 15, 2014
  • New Classical Tracks: Pushing the Boundaries
    Pianist Alessio Bax is fascinated by Beethoven's music. Even though Bax feels Beethoven's music can never be mastered, there's enough to explore and discover that Bax has released a new album of Beethoven music.October 22, 2014
  • On Beethoven's Birthday, The Three Periods
    It was not long after Beethoven's death that people began to talk about "three periods" in his music. Despite the obvious simplifications involved, this division continues to be used and discussed today.December 16, 2013
  • A Distinguished Discography: Minnesota Orchestra recordings with Osmo Vänskä
    As Osmo Vanska departs for the next chapter of his career, he leaves a powerful legacy of recordings with the Minnesota Orchestra. Here is a rundown of those works.October 4, 2013
  • Writing thriller novels with Beethoven
    Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver — whose latest book, The Kill Room, is the next in the series featuring forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme — finds story structure in symphonic music.August 5, 2013
  • New Classical Tracks: Prepare for Goose Bumps
    Violinist Joshua Bell, who is now also conductor Joshua Bell, talks about his new recording and the excitement of Beethoven's symphonies.March 5, 2013
  • New Classical Tracks: Piano Variations
    According to Emanuel Ax, writing variations on a theme is a way for composers to show off what they can do. On his new disc, he lets us hear how Haydn, Beethoven, and Robert Schumann flex their muscles.January 29, 2013

Beethoven and You

We're collecting stories about Ludwig's life or music on listeners of Classical MPR. What's your Beethoven story?

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The Music

The Beethoven You Probably Know The Beethoven You Probably Know

For whatever reason, some classical pieces seem to have emerged as the common works of which everyone knows and thinks when classical music is mentioned.

Soothing Beethoven Playlist Soothing Beethoven Playlist

Whilst most of Beethoven's famous output seems to be furious and impassioned, he has many works which are intimate and tender. This playlist offers some examples.

Complete Works of Beethoven

Complete Works of Beethoven

Beethoven in the news

Coverage of Beethoven from the Classical Notes blog.

  • Kobe Bryant is big on Beethoven
    NBA star Kobe Bryant has shared he is a big fan of Beethoven. Now, a new model shoe from Nike will bear the names of both Bryant and Beethoven.
  • Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 5 & 6
    What does it mean to write about classical music when you're not classically trained?
  • Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 4 & 5
    Beethoven composed the fifth symphony in his mid-thirties, a period when his deafness was increasingly troubling him. In popular myth, the staccato theme of the first movement represents fate knocking at the composer's door. To say...what, precisely?
  • Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 3 & 4
    I imagine my dad, in his Minneapolis apartment in the early 70s, listening to Beethoven and reading the paper in his squared glasses and white turtleneck. Flash back a decade, to Karajan coaxing what Harvey Sachs called his "calculatedly voluptuous" sound from his players as he created a recording that he had every reason to think would be regarded as definitive by a generation of his peers.
  • Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 2 & 3
    Though the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection might have been a fine investment in timeless music for the subscribers who purchased it via mail-order in the early 70s, it wasn't a very sound investment on financial terms.
  • Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 1 & 2
    Since before the term "bucket list" was a thing, it's been on my bucket list to listen to the entirety of the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection. With Beethoven's sestercentennial coming up in six years, I figure that if I start now, I can proceed at a nice leisurely pace and still wrap up right around his 250th birthday on December 16, 2020.
  • Showering with Beethoven, Headstands with Stravinsky
    Need some creative inspiration? Take Ludwig's advice and splash some cold water on your face.
  • Moonlight at the Bus Stop
    Commuters help perform Beethoven's Moonlight sonata.
  • Brooklyn Rider and Beethoven
    Colin, Eric, Johnny and Nick meet Ludwig van Beethoven...
  • The Short Version: Self Assessment
    Any prolific composer could surprise us with how they rank their own works. Perhaps it's as simple and as compelling as "What have I done lately?" This 19th century Titan might have dismissed one of our favorites with, "That's so 1808."
  • Beethoven the Charismatic!
    SNL Host Jimmy Fallon adds Ludwig van Beethoven to his list of impersonations!
  • Seven More Days Until Beethoven's Birthday (More or Less)
    A week from today (December 16) is Beethoven's birthday. As pointed out by Lucy in this classic strip, we don't really know this. What we do know is that Beethoven was baptized on the 17th of December, and Catholic children were traditionally baptized on the day following birth.
  • The Short Version: Apocryphal
    This is the man God has sent us. . . .
  • The King's Speech and Beethoven
    Having finally seen "The King's Speech" over the weekend, I was all fired up to write a marvelous blog about how the film smartly uses the music of Beethoven (Mozart too!) to fully enhance the drama. Alas, it seems David...
  • Low Cal Beethoven
    It was common practice in Beethoven's day to arrange large scale works for smaller forces. After all, getting to the concert hall wasn't always possible, so this allowed amateur musicians to experience great music right in their homes. Beethoven's assistant,...
  • Here's Your Moment of Beethoven
    Recently, a colleague of mine stopped me in the hall to ask about a certain piece of classical music that had grabbed his attention. And a little later, another colleague stopped me in the hall, with a similar question. They...
  • Mixed Reviews for Beethoven on Broadway
    Back in November I posted a note about 33 Variations, a play about a musicologist trying to unravel one last Beethoven mystery before she dies. Well, the play has opened, and the reviews suggest the show has a lot of...
  • Schiff on Beethoven, Again
    Andras Schiff has been spending a lot of time with Beethoven in recent years, playing all 32 piano sonatas in a series of 8 recitals in London, New York and Los Angeles (and maybe other cities, too?). He's gotten reviews...
  • Beethoven on Broadway
    Publisher Anton Diabelli wrote a short waltz and sent it to 50 composers, asking each of them to write a variation on it. Beethoven turned him down--but then ultimately wrote 33 variations on it. Why? That's the question at the...
  • Written by Bach .... Mrs. Bach, That Is
    What if some of J. S. Bach's best loved pieces were actually composed by his wife? That's the conclusion that an Australian music scholar has reached. Is it a logical conclusion, far-fetched, or somewhere in between? Judge for yourself and...
  • Andras Schiff on Beethoven
    I mentioned this on the air this morning, so I thought I'd post a link, too. Pianist Andras Schiff has been playing all of the Beethoven sonatas in a series of eight recitals. A couple of years ago, when he...
  • Beethoven + Minnesota Orchestra + Osmo Vanska = Perfect 10
    Happy news in the New Year for the Minnesota Orchestra. Not long after receiving a Grammy nomination for their recording of Beethoven's Ninth, their new CD of Beethoven's First and Sixth Symphonies gets a perfect 10 rating from critic David...
  • Beethoven Gets Even
    Just in case you missed it on All Things Considered: Music critic Tom Manoff taking notice that the most famous Beethoven symphonies have the odd numbers (Beethoven's Fifth, Beethoven's Ninth..), and the "neglected" ones, the even. Actually, in the case...
  • Beethoven, Klemperer and Mendelssohn
    So, the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off their "Beethoven's Back" promotion today with The Big Guy himself handing out coffee, newspapers and downloads in front of Orchestra Hall this morning, and it reminded me of a story about Beethoven's Fifth Symphony...

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