Day 196: Beethoven Complete Edition – Bring It On!

Today starts a new chapter in my journey of 1095 days.

For today I begin exploring the complete works of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Once again, I turn to the Brilliant Classics label for assistance.

Their Beethoven Complete Edition is one of the least expensive, yet highest quality collections of Classical music on the market. Everything Brilliant Classics does it top-notch. Their Beethoven Complete Edition is no exception.

51XdxvVTFMLThe first thing I noticed when my box set arrived is how tiny it looked compared to the complete works of Haydn (150 CDs), Mozart (180 CDs), and Bach (172 CDs).

Beethoven’s complete works fit on just 86 discs – about half the size of the other major composers, some of whom (Haydn and Mozart) were his contemporaries. (The picture of the product on Amazon is somewhat misleading. The box is actually about half the size it appears to be in that photo.)

Beethoven lived 57 years. Haydn lived 77 years. Mozart, just 35. Bach, 65.

Mozart lived the shortest at 35 years. Yet, his output was extraordinary. More compositions than any other figure from Classical music in half the time. Haydn was almost as prolific as Mozart, yet he lived the longest of the major composers. So he had time on his side.

When seen in context like that, Beethoven’s relatively meager output – compared to other famous Classical composers – raises questions:

BoxSetsWhy did Beethoven – who lived nearly as long as Bach – only compose enough music to fit on half the amount of CDs as other legends of Classical music? What was he doing with his time? Was he ill? Did he have composers block? Was he a perfectionist? Are each of his compositions honed to perfection and of “higher quality” than the compositions of other giants of the genre?

Given this, I’m thinking my experience listening to Beethoven’s works will be different from what it was listening to Mozart’s and Haydn’s. For one thing, I’ll consider each composition to be very important since it represents a body of work more compact than other composers. Plus, I’ll research Beethoven’s life more intently to find out why.

Many questions.

And 86 days of Beethoven ahead of me in which to answer them.