Composer Profile: Beethoven & His Lone Opera

By David Salazar

Ludwig Van Beethoven. That name alone already creates different emotional reactions in everyone.

Baptized on Dec. 17, 1770, the composer would go on to be not only one of the icons of classical music but of all art in history. Alongside Mozart and Bach, Beethoven remains one of the household names and his music has transcended time.

A pupil of Haydn during his formative years, Beethoven is most famous for his nine symphonies, his piano concertos and sonatas, and his chamber music, specifically his string quartets. He was a noted piano virtuoso and conducted in his early professional days. However, by his late 20s, his hearing started to deteriorate, and he gave up public performance at large by 1811, when he was but 41.

He died on March 26, 1827, at the age of 56. His funeral procession featured about 20,000 people.

Signature Works

Beethoven famously only wrote one opera “Fidelio.” And while it is not the most popular of operas, it gets performed regularly and is widely considered a masterpiece.

The work’s most famous and beloved passages include the choral numbers, particularly at the opera’s close, which certainly hint at what was to come in the composer’s famed ninth symphony. Florestan’s aria is also widely recognized as one of Beethoven’s finest moments of characterization and dramatic depth.

Read More on Beethoven

Major Interpreters of “Fidelio”

His “Other” Opera

Learn More About “Fidelio”

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording of Fidelio starring Gundula Janowitz.


Opera Wiki