Who is in the picture?
Ludwig van Beethoven, (baptized December 17, 1770, Bonn, archbishopric of Cologne —died March 26, 1827, Vienna, Austria), German composer, the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras.
Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since. Rooted in the Classical traditions of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, his art reaches out to encompass the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism.
Beethoven’s greatest achievement was to raise instrumental music, hitherto considered inferior to vocal, to the highest plane of art. During the 18th century, music, being fundamentally nonimitative, was ranked below literature and painting. Its highest manifestations were held to be those in which it served a text—that is, cantata, opera, and oratorio—the sonata and the suite being relegated to a lower sphere. A number of factors combined to bring about a gradual change of outlook: the instrumental prowess of the Mannheim Orchestra, which made possible the development of the symphony; the reaction on the part of writers against pure rationalism in favour of feeling; and the works of Haydn and Mozart. But, above all, it was the example of Beethoven that made possible the late-Romantic dictum of the English essayist and critic Walter Pater: “All arts aspire to the condition of music.”