Interesting Facts from Classical Music

interesting-factsAlthough musical history stretches back to the beginning of time, of the handful of well-known musicians, they come mostly from the Classical period, which was only a couple hundred years ago. The Classical period lasted from 1750-1825, but was very influential to modern music. By this time in history, America had been colonized and revolted, and the Industrial Revolution was in full-swing, but most of the sophisticated popular music came from Europe, specifically Vienna, Italy. Italy was the center of the Renaissance and continued to be an artistic and musical center for hundreds of years.

It was here in Venice that Mozart began his musical career. The public, at the time, favored musical virtuosos (people with great skill and understanding in their field) and Mozart was definitely that. Mozart was truly gifted and first published his music at the age of five. Mozart’s father recognized his son’s gift and in an effort to foster this gift, as well as help Mozart’s career, they moved to Venice.

Things did not go as well as his father had hoped, but by the time Mozart was 17, he was steadily employed as a composer. After a series of disagreements with an employer, Mozart became one of the first freelance artists and sold his works to several different patrons simultaneously.

Beethoven, who is reputed to be the greatest musical composer ever, was also a musician of the Classical period. Surprisingly, Beethoven had much in common with Mozart, but had to overcome some unique obstacles. Like Mozart, Beethoven published his musical compositions when he was very young, only 12,, but did not gain widespread success until later.

His early works were even influenced largely by Mozart, who was reputed to be the best composer of the time. Beethoven’s early works were powerful and experimental. To stay awake while composing new works, Beethoven would dunk his head in a bucket of ice water, which some people believe lead to his hearing loss.

In his late 20’s, Beethoven accepted the fact that his hearing problem was becoming gradually worse and would eventually disappear completely. However, it was after he was completely deaf that Beethoven produced his greatest works, although he was embarrassed by his deafness on several occasions. His hearing loss may have been caused by a one or a combination of things including lead poisoning, syphilis, beating from his father, and possibly from dunking his head in ice water. His deafness did not stop him from composing, but it made concerts extremely difficult. Despite this difficultly, he lived to be sixty, which was quite old for the time.

Even though people have been listening to music for thousands of years, it is somewhat surprising that of the few well-known historic musicians, two of the most famous, Mozart and Beethoven, are from the same time period and both worked in Italy. Both musicians produced and played music professionally from a young age and eventually left their mark on the world.