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Beethoven's Beginnings in Bonn

Classical Academy | Classical Period | Composers

We don't have any record of Beethoven's birth. What we do know is that he was baptized in a Roman Catholic service at the Parish of St Regius in Bonn, Germany, on 17 December 1770. Back then, it was common for baptisms to take place the day after birth and we know that his teacher Johann Albrechtsberger celebrate his pupil's birthday on the 16th of the month.


Bonn was an interesting place for a composer at this time. In 1597 it had become the seat of the Archdiocese of Cologne, gaining considerable influence and growing rapidly in size. Max Franz, the ruler from 1784-94, founded the University and the spa quarter of Bad Godesberg. In addition, he was the patron of the young Beethoven, financing his first journey to Vienna.


Today, Beethoven's birthplace is thought to be in Bonngasse 20, near the market place. This house, in which Beethoven came into the world in one of its tiny attic rooms, is the only one of the young boy's early residences in the town that still survives today.


What better way to celebrate Beethoven's entering the world than with one of his earliest works - Symphony no. 1, composed for another of his early patrons Baron Gottfried van Swieten. Sketches for the finale are found among the exercises the young Beethoven wrote while studying counterpoint with teahcer Johann Albrechtsberger.


Interested in knowing more about the symphonic genre? Read our special guide.