If you’re a classical pianist of most any age it’s a good bet your teachers from first to last have extolled the virtues of playing Beethoven, especially the sonatas. They are, along with J. S. Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier, referred to as the pianist’s bible. Whether you’re preparing for a competition or your college audition, a Beethoven sonata is almost always required repertoire. It used to be the first movement only, then first movement for the pre-screen but complete sonata for the live audition if you make it, and now a majority of schools want the whole sonata on your pre-screen CD or video. Performance majors of all kinds learn about the early, middle and last stylistic periods of these thirty-two pieces in music history.

Beethoven’s music is credited with molding the professional orchestra as we know it, influencing modern conducting and recording technology and creating a piano more able to fulfill his musical demands. So if you’re studying piano or music business or jazz or opera or singing in a choir or playing in an orchestra, Beethoven is partly responsible for what you’re learning. But how did Beethoven become BEETHOVEN? Here are some opinions about that.