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Teachers - do you need some help with the BGCSE?

There is alot of useful information for you and your students on these pages. There are several past papers which you can print off and the audio for the papers is here also.

Information on the Set Works for this year is also available, including videos, composer bios and analyses of the music.

Later on I will add some revision quizes.




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Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827

Born (baptized): December 17, 1770. Bonn, Germany
Died: March 26, 1827. Vienna, Austria

A German composer, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest musicians of all time. Having begun his career as an outstanding improviser at the piano and composer of piano music, Beethoven went on to compose string quartets and other kinds of chamber music, songs, two masses, an opera, and nine symphonies. His Symphony No. 9 in D minor op. 125 (Choral, completed 1824), perhaps the most famous work of classical music in existence, culminates in a choral finale based on the poem “Ode to Joy” by German writer Friedrich von Schiller. Like his opera Fidelio, op. 72 (1805; revised 1806, 1814) and many other works, the Ninth Symphony depicts an initial struggle with adversity and concludes with an uplifting vision of freedom and social harmony.

Beethoven was born in Bonn. His father’s harsh discipline and alcoholism made his childhood and adolescence difficult. At the age of 18, after his mother’s death, Beethoven placed himself at the head of the family, taking responsibility for his two younger brothers, both of whom followed him when he later moved to Vienna, Austria.

In Bonn, Beethoven’s most important composition teacher was German composer Christian Gottlob Neefe, with whom he studied during the 1780s. Neefe used the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach as a cornerstone of instruction, and he later encouraged his student to study with Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom Beethoven met briefly in Vienna in 1787. In 1792 Beethoven made another journey to Vienna to study with Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, and he stayed there the rest of his life.

The combination of forceful, dramatic power with dreamy introspection in Beethoven’s music made a strong impression in Viennese aristocratic circles and helped win him generous patrons. Yet just as his success seemed assured, he was confronted with the loss of that sense on which he so depended, his hearing. Beethoven expressed his despair over his increasing hearing loss in his moving “Heiligenstadt Testament,” a document written to his brothers in 1802. This impairment gradually put an end to his performing career. However, Beethoven’s compositional achievements did not suffer from his hearing loss but instead gained in richness and power over the years. His artistic growth was reflected in a series of masterpieces, including the Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major op. 55 (the Eroica, completed 1804), Fidelio, and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor op. 67 (1808). These works embody his second period, which is called his heroic style.

Around 1810 Beethoven was especially drawn to the poetry and drama of German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whom he met in 1812 through the initiative of Goethe’s young literary friend Bettina Brentano. Bettina’s sister-in-law Antonia Brentano was probably the intended recipient of Beethoven’s famous letter to the “Immortal Beloved.” The letter dates from July 1812 and apparently marks the collapse of Beethoven’s hopes to seek happiness through marriage. Following this disappointment, Beethoven’s output declined significantly, and during 1813 he was generally depressed and unproductive.

Beethoven’s fame during his lifetime reached its peak in 1814. The enthusiastic response of the public to his music at this time was focused on showy works, such as Wellington’s Victory op. 91 (1813; also known as the Battle Symphony), and a series of patriotic crowd-pleasers, including the cantata The Glorious Moment op. 136 (1814), but his enhanced popularity also made possible the successful revival of Fidelio.

During the last decade of his life Beethoven had almost completely lost his hearing, and he was increasingly socially isolated. He had assumed the guardianship of his nephew Karl after a lengthy legal struggle, and despite Beethoven’s affection for Karl, there was enormous friction between the two. Notwithstanding these difficulties, between 1818 and 1826 Beethoven embarked upon a series of ambitious large-scale compositions, including the Sonata in B-flat major op. 106 (Hammerklavier, 1818), the Missa Solemnis in D major op. 123 (1823), the Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major op. 120 (1823), the Symphony No. 9 in D minor op. 125 (1824), and his last string quartets. Plagued at times by serious illness, Beethoven nevertheless maintained his sense of humor and often amused himself with jokes and puns. He continued to work at a high level of creativity until he contracted pneumonia in December 1826. He died in Vienna in March 1827.


Franz Joseph Hadyn(1732-1809)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)


Gloria Estefan (1957-)



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