Being Beethoven

Being Beethoven is a BBC documentary series that tells the life story of Beethoven in the context of the composer's own time and place, revealing a life following a very different trajectory to his art. By returning the composer to the context of his own time and place, telling his life story in the present tense, Being Beethoven reveals how the composer's life frequently appears to follow an entirely different trajectory to his art. What emerges is a complex and often contradictory individual living a life marked by isolation, ill-health and deafness. A man who, despite the frequent wretchedness of his personal circumstances, manages to create musical masterpieces that have enthralled and uplifted the world for 250 years.

Episode 1 - This Strange Deafness: 1770-1803

Episode 1 - This Strange Deafness: 1770-1803
This episode explores Beethoven's childhood, the crucible in which the man and his music are formed, and his subsequent rise to fame as a piano virtuoso, then composer, in late 18th-century Vienna.

Episode 2 - You, My Immortal Beloved: 1803-1812
This episode sees Beethoven return to the town of Heiligenstadt, where the year before, devastated by the loss of his hearing, he had written the Heiligenstadt Testament; a document in which he contemplates suicide before finally resolving to embark on a new creative path.

Episode 3 - We are not in a Good State: 1813-1827
This episode finds the composer unmoored and - personally and creatively - desperate to regain control in every aspect of his life. In 1815, the death of his brother is the catalyst for a long and bitter legal battle for custody of Beethoven's nephew, Karl. What follows is a protracted period during which the composer's desire for love and family tip over into obsession.

Related Links
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The Great Composers - Beethoven
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