A Brief History
On October 20, 1803, Ludwig van Beethoven, one of history’s greatest composers (and a favorite here at History and Headlines!) was hard at work on his vastly important “Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major,” better known as “Sinfonia Eroica” (“Heroic Symphony”).
Beethoven’s other major works, such as “Ode to Joy,” “Fur Elise,” and his momentous “Symphony No. 5” (colloquially called, “Beethoven’s Fifth”) are familiar musical works, and his battle with composing and performing music while becoming deaf is well known. But what about his mother? Everyone has a mom! Beethoven was no exception.
Born Maria Magdalena Keverich in 1746, in Ehrenbreitstein (near Koblenz) in what is now Germany, Maria’s father was the head cook at the palace of the Elector of Treves. Maria first married an attendant of the Archbishop of Trier, but that first husband died only 2 years later. She had borne her first husband only one child, a baby that died in its infancy. Now a widow, Maria then married Johann van Beethoven in 1767, Johann then employed as a court musician at The Electorate of Cologne in what was then The Holy Roman Empire. (Johann had also been the son of a musician, so apparently musical talent ran in the family.)
Maria bore 7 children for Johann, with Ludwig being the second born (1770). Unfortunately, she died at the age of 40 in 1787 of tuberculosis, a not uncommon fate in those days. Ludwig had described his mother as kind and loving, and even as his “best friend.” Despite Ludwig’s grandfather disapproving of the marriage of Maria and Johann, by all accounts she was a good mother and a well liked person, though serious to a fault.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you enjoy Beethoven’s music? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Lockwood, Lewis. Beethoven: The Music and the Life. W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.
Swafford, Jan. Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
The featured image in this article, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Parents, Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich, is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.
You can also watch a video version of this article on YouTube: