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.
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.”
LISTEN. “First, some music. Have you heard this one? It's called Für Elise, for solo piano.
SAY. Five fast facts:
His full name was Ludwig van Beethoven.
He was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany.
He died in 1827 at the age of 57. He is buried at the central cemetery in Vienna, Austria.
He began to lose his hearing in his early thirties and was completely deaf by age 40. He could still compose music by hearing it in his head.
He liked to go hiking in the Vienna Woods.
MATCH. Invite students to match each picture below with one of the five facts.
LISTEN. “Time for more music! Here is the very well-known first movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.”
REFLECT. Invite students to journal about or discuss these questions:
Have you heard some of this music before? Do you remember when or where?
Why do you think Beethoven's music is still played 250 years after he was born? What makes it stand the test of time?
Do you think Beethoven has influenced other composers and musicians? In what ways?
How do you think music and music-making have changed in the 250 years since Beethoven was born? Name some major changes.
How would you describe this music to someone who had never heard it before?
What do you think it was like for Beethoven to lose his hearing? How would you cope with a setback like that?
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.”
LISTEN. “Listen to a little bit of a string quartet by Beethoven.”
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.”
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.
In this K-5 music lesson, learn about famous composer Mozart's life from childhood on!
World events and personal history influence the music that composers create. In this 2-8 music lesson, the story of composer Zoltán Kodály provides a good example of history's influence on music.
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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.