Meet the Composer: Beethoven

Beethoven sculptures
Valdas Miskinis/Pixabay

Age Range: Elementary, Middle School

Learning Objective: Students will learn about the life of German-Austrian composer Ludwig van Beethoven and listen to some of his most well-known compositions.

ENGAGE students

SAY. “Ever heard of a composer named Beethoven? Today we will learn a few basics about the composer, his life, and music. Plus, we'll listen to a few greatest hits.”

EXPLORE sounds

LISTEN. “First, some music. Have you heard this one? It's called Für Elise, for solo piano.

Für Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven
Louis Lortie, piano

SAY. Five fast facts:

MATCH. Invite students to match each picture below with one of the five facts.

Five Facts
Images from Pixabay

LISTEN. “Time for more music! Here is the very well-known first movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.”

Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 I. Allegro con brio - Ludwig van Beethoven
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

REFLECT. Invite students to journal about or discuss these questions:

EXPLAIN. “Beethoven was famous for writing symphonies and piano music, but he also wrote a lot of beautiful chamber music, or music for small groups of musicians. A very common type of chamber group is the string quartet, which includes two violins, a viola, and a cello. Here is the typical seating arrangement for a string quartet.”

String quartet layout
Wikimedia Commons

LISTEN. “Listen to a little bit of a string quartet by Beethoven.”

String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130 IV. Alla danza tedesca - Ludwig van Beethoven
Yale Quartet

LISTEN. “Finally, here is the second movement from Beethoven's Symphony #7. Notice a simple melody repeats over and over and is passed around to different instrument families.”

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 II. Allegretto - Ludwig van Beethoven
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

EXTEND learning

WATCH. Want to see some musicians performing Beethoven? Here are Class Notes Concert artists Artu Duo performing at Classical MPR studios.

LISTEN. Can't get enough Beethoven? Find some at Classical MPR's Daily Download.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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