Victims of Beethoven's Fatal Ninth Symphony
About several people who died possibly because of their association with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
6 VICTIMS OF THE FATAL NINTH SYMPHONY
1. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Considered one of history's greatest composers, Beethoven became a professional organist when he was only 11 years old. Some of his most intricate works were created after he became almost totally deaf. He had just completed his Ninth Symphony and had promised the London Philharmonic Society his tenth when he caught cold on a trip to Vienna. Jaundiced and dropsical, he died a few months later.
2. ANTON BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
As a child, Bruckner was expected to follow in his father's footsteps and become a village schoolmaster in Austria. But after his father's death he became a choirboy at the Monastery of St. Florian near Linz, where he learned to play the organ, bass, and violin. He did not receive recognition as a major composer of sacred music until the end of his life. While working on the final sketches of his Ninth Symphony, Bruckner died. At his request he was buried under the church organ in the village of St. Florian.
3. ANTON DVORAK (1841-1904)
Dvorak was the first composer of Bohemian ancestry to achieve international acclaim. His exceptional musical ability was first recognized when he played in his father's band at age eight. In 1892 Dvorak accepted the position of director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. He remained in the U.S. for three years and was extremely successful as a composer, conductor, and teacher. Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, From the New World, his final and best-known symphony, was first performed at a Philharmonic Society concert in New York in 1893. He died in Bohemia in 1904, a victim of Bright's disease.
4. ALEKSANDER KONSTANTINOVICH GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Glazunov was endowed with an extraordinary musical memory. Even as a child he could reconstruct a complete piece of music after hearing it only once. His First Symphony was composed at the age of 16. His last complete symphony, the Eighth, was finished in 1906. Two movements of the Ninth Symphony were completed in 1907. Leaving the Soviet Union in 1928, he embarked on a two-year tour of the U.S., which was largely unsuccessful. Subsequently he settled in Paris, where he died at 71.
5. GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)
Mahler was born into a family of Jewish shopkeepers in Bohemia. After discovering the piano in his grandfather's house, the six-year-old genius became oblivious to everything except music. He was taken to a professor at the Vienna Conservatory who, after hearing a few of Mahler's compositions, labeled him a born musician. Throughout his career Mahler set unusually high standards for himself. At one point he even resigned from his position as a conductor in Prague because his musical ideas were not followed fanatically. Suffering from heart disease, he had completed nine symphonies when he collapsed from overwork. Before he died Mahler raised his finger and moved it back and forth as if it were a baton. His last word was Mozart. He was buried in Vienna in utter silence--at his request; not a word was uttered, not a note was sung.
6. RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Vaughan Williams was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge and the Royal College of Music in London. His knowledge of English folk music and music from the Tudor period enabled him to create a very individual yet national musical style. His varied compositions include choral and orchestral works, chamber music, and songs. His Ninth Symphony, a rather bleak and desolate piece of music, was completed before his death in 1958.
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