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Beethoven with Mozart Czerny Bülow autograph

Prodigy to Progeny: Beethoven as Pupil, Teacher, and Paradigm


Beethoven started his musical life being groomed as a performer. Promoting Ludwig as a prodigy, his father organized his first public concert at the age of seven. Although Beethoven studied violin, organ, and other keyboard instruments, it was his phenomenal skill on the fortepiano that later gained his entry to the palaces and patronage of the Viennese aristocracy. While he endeavored to establish himself as a composer, he was sought out as a fortepiano teacher, especially by the families of young women of the noble class. Through his teaching of his most tireless student, Carl Czerny, Beethoven passed down a legacy of ideas about interpreting his own piano works, particularly the sonatas. For succeeding generations of concert pianists, the ability to perform the entire cycle of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas for piano has become the pinnacle of achievement.

This exhibit draws on the collections of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies to trace Beethoven’s path as student, teacher, and paradigm. Each section contains links to musical examples from YouTube or other online sources.The physical exhibit took place at the Beethoven Center from February 1 - September 30, 2011.

Patricia Stroh, Curator