Ludwig van Beethoven

Today on December 16, in 1770 a German composer and pianist that became the most crucial figure in the history of music was born. This was Ludwig van Beethoven!

It’s really hard to describe the life and work of this enormous musician and composer in just a couple of paragraphs. So we just write a few very generic words about him.

Beethoven was the grandson of Lodewijk van Beethoven (1712–73), a musician who came from Mechelen in present-day Belgium who moved at the age of twenty to Bonn. So Ludwig was born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire. He displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and Christian Gottlob Neefe. During his first 22 years in Bonn, Beethoven intended to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and befriended Joseph Haydn. Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792 and began studying with Haydn, quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. During the late 18th century, his hearing began to deteriorate significantly, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform after becoming completely deaf.


He died on 26 March 1827 at the age of 56 during a thunderstorm. His friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present at the time, said that there was a peal of thunder at the moment of death. An autopsy revealed significant liver damage, which may have been due to heavy alcohol consumption. But there is dispute about the cause of Beethoven’s death.

Everyone now probably sings inside him the scope from the fifth or the ninth symphony. Well… after almost 300 years his music power still exists!

Some paper ideas from the same date from the past!

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An American in Paris by George Gershwin!

Some Parisian taxi horns were blowing on December 13, 1928 in New York! It was in the Carnegie Hall premiere of George Gershwin’s symphonic tone poem An American in Paris”.

Gershwin completed the orchestration on November 18, less than four weeks before the work’s premiere! He composed An American in Paris on commission from the New York Philharmonic. He scored the piece for the standard instruments of the symphonic orchestra plus celesta, saxophones, and automobile horns. That explains the Parisian taxi horns in premiere!

Gershwin on the original program notes, noting that: “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.” And when the tone poem moves into the blues, he explains “our American friend … has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness.” But, “nostalgia is not a fatal disease.” The American visitor “once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life” and “the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant.”


Gershwin based An American in Paris on a melodic piece called “Very Parisienne”, written in 1926 on his first visit to Paris as a gift to his hosts, Robert and Mabel Schirmer. Gershwin explained in Musical America, “My purpose here is to portray the impressions of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere.”

In 1951, MGM released the musical An American in Paris, featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Winning the 1951 Best Picture Oscar and numerous other awards, the film was directed by Vincente Minnelli.

A part of the symphonic composition is also featured in the film starring Jack Nicholson As Good as It Gets, released in 1997.

Some paper ideas from the same date from the past!

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Bolero by Maurice Ravel

Well, as of today in 1963 the President Kennedy assassinated. We were ready to write for it showing a lot of paper items related with the assassination. But then again we thought: macabre news that everyone will mention today, on Thanksgiving day.   

So we decided to write about music! Write about Joseph-Maurice Ravel the French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects and his Boléro.

Ravel was born in the Basque town of Ciboure, France, near Biarritz, close to the border with Spain, in 1875. His mother, Marie Delouart, was of Basque descent and grew up in Madrid, Spain, while his father, Joseph Ravel, was a Swiss inventor and industrialist from French Haute-Savoie.

1928 Ravel made a four-month concert tour in North America, for a promised minimum of $10,000 (approximately $135,349, if we also make inflation adjustments). Ravel conducted most of the leading orchestras in the U.S. from coast to coast and visited twenty-five cities receiving a standing ovation. New Orleans visit caused him to include some jazz elements in a few of his later compositions.

After returning to France, Ravel composed his most famous and controversial orchestral work Boléro, originally called Fandango. Ravel called it “an experiment in a very special and limited direction”.

In 1928 on 22 November in Paris, “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel was first performed publicly.

It’s amazing the quantity and quality of paper items you can find about music! Small sheets or whole orchestra scores, even rare handwritten ones, photographs, stamps, postcards and so on. Music lovers be prepared: a lot of “music” paper comes to eCharta!

Some paper ideas from the same date from the past!

KO for eCharta