Was Beethoven Blind?

Mar 17 · 4 min read

Ludvig van Beethoven was a famous composer in the early 19th century. Some call him the first truly famous composer. There is a lot of lore surrounding Beethoven and his life. Sometimes people ask me, was Beethoven blind?

No, Ludvig van Beethoven was not blind. He was deaf though, by age 42 Beethoven could no longer hear speech or music normally. There are some masterpieces by Beethoven, that he never heard himself!

Who Was Beethoven?

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer. Beethoven is one of the most admired composers in the history of western music. He was also considered one of the first celebrities. He was one of the first composers that was famous. His compositions span between the classical period and the romantic period.

Beethoven’s symphonies are some of the most expressive symphonies out there. When you listen to them you can really get lost in the music. He can transport you in two different places, and you can really feel like you were there. It's really incredible. I used to go listen to Beethoven's symphonies at Symphony Hall in Boston oh, and it was incredible. I would look forward to those concerts for months.

As a student at Berklee College of Music you would get a special pass to go to Symphony Hall. You could show up at the ticket window and if there are any tickets left over you could get them. Is such an incredible program! So I was able to go to the symphony almost every week. And my favorite shows were always Beethoven's pieces of music. Now I teach music lessons in Hillsboro.

Even if I was sitting in a bad seat, it didn't matter, it was still incredible. The acoustics in Symphony Hall are really extraordinary. Plus Beethoven's music is incredible! My absolute most favorite show was Beethoven's 6th Symphony, the Pastoral Symphony.

Check it out here:


In the symphony Beethoven takes you through a few different scenes. When you listen to Symphony it truly feels like you're walking through a pastor. It's incredible that he was able to capture that feeling in music. and I think he was losing his hearing at the time of writing this is incredible! I don't know about you but I love listening to the symphony.

He also takes you through a storm in the symphony. It's very cool to see weather represented by music. I think it might be some of the most pleasant music ever written. You can hear the sounds of birds if you listen to the flute parts in the background. It's very brilliant writing, it certainly isn't heavy-handed. Sometimes nature-based music can be a little blunt. But Beethoven doesn't fall into this trap, it is just genuine. If you want to learn a little bit more about Mozart check out this article:

Beethoven also somehow captures the interplay between different aspects of nature. It's as if you can hear different animals coming and going. It's really extraordinary! It's like when you're on a walk and you hear different birds and then you continue walking into your other bird calls. And some birds fade in and other birds fade out. Somehow he captures this in music.

There's a certain ebb and flow to nature the Beethoven seems to capture. It truly is remarkable. The best art always mimics the world around us. But it mimics it in a way that makes us see the world anew. I believe that's what the best start does. And Beethoven's 6th Symphony certainly does that.


Why Was Beethoven Deaf?

No one knows why Beethoven started losing his hearing, but there are many theories surrounding it. But it's impossible to know for sure what caused it.

A symphony Beethoven wrote while having his hearing severely impaired is the 9th Symphony. The main theme from this, Ode to Joy, is the national anthem of the United Nations. That's quite an achievement in itself. You can check out that symphony here:

In this Symphony Beethoven also has a choir. This is not typical of most symphonies. It certainly adds a lot to the sound though. Incredible to think that Beethoven wrote this whole Symphony not really being able to hear. Although he was not entirely deaf he certainly couldn't hear music or speech clearly.

It is a huge achievement. This means he had to hear all the music very clearly in his head and then write it out. He wasn't able to search for the melody on a piano or another instrument before writing it out. It also means he never heard his final symphony performed. It’s a tragic thing when you think about it. It’s like painting a masterpiece but never seeing it.

I really hope you guys do check out the videos of Link here. They're really great performances with really great conducting. It's incredible to listen to Beethoven in this day and age. Where you're so lucky that we're able to see a full Symphony perform for free on YouTube. This is one of my favorite parts of the internet is being able to watch incredible performances from all over the world of my favorite pieces of music. When you think about it there are very few people in the history of the world that have been able to see Symphonies play Beethoven.

One of my favorite aspects of Beethoven is how he handles a melody. He comes up with really great Melodies and then passes them around the entire Symphony in a very entertaining way. It's one of the things that made him such an incredible conductor. It's a real skill to pass around a melody and keep it interesting and flip it and change it in interesting ways. You can really hear this in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Check out this recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony:

It's really cool to hear the Vienna Symphony play Beethoven. They're certainly one of the best symphonies in the world, and this is a great recording and performance. When you listen to the 5th Symphony you can hear the main theme played over and over again. But it is also inverted and played backwards, and passed around the entire Symphony. I'm sure every instrument in the orchestra at some point is playing the main theme. It's all so incredible that the main thing is just 4 notes. That's about it as short of a theme as you can make. And it's completely iconic, everyone knows the theme to The Fifth Symphony.


I hope this article has helped you learn a little bit more about Beethoven. He's certainly one of the greatest composers in history and I've tried to share some great performances with you in this article.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article all the way to the end. It really means a lot to me. I love Beethoven, and I love writing by Beethoven. So it means so much to me that you would take the time to read this article all about Beethoven. Even though he was not blind, he was deaf and hopefully you learned a thing or two from this article. Plus hopefully you listen to these Great Performances that I've linked to. It really is a miracle of technology that we can listen to these performances in high fidelity.

Cloe Haynes
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