Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He is considered to have been the most crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. See Wikipedia for more on the life and music of Beethoven: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_van_Beethoven> The links in the guide below are to YouTube movies. For brevity, I've only included one movement of some of the pieces. Apologies in advance for any annoying ads :( Ad-blocking plugins are available for most browsers ;) If the links are blocked, you can try listening to the pieces via Wikipedia or elsewhere, e.g. <http://www.last.fm/music/Ludwig+van+Beethoven> The "rough guide" ... 1. Bagatelle in A Minor, WoO 59, 'Für Elise' <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAsDLGjMhFI> This is a live performance of a piece that almost every aspiring pianist is taught to play. Even if you don't listen to much classical, it's likely you've heard this piece, maybe at a school concert or in a movie. BTW, a bagatelle is a short piece of music, typically light or mellow, and the performer is Valentina Lisitsa (Ukraine). 2. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2, 'Moonlight': I. Adagio sostenuto <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6txOvK-mAk> Originally sonatas were written for solo instruments, or sometimes for small groups. The form evolved through the Classical period. Beethoven wrote 32 sonatas for piano. Perhaps the most famous and well- known is this one, "Moonlight". The video is for the first of three movements. The performer, Wilhelm Kempff, was particularly known for his interpretations of Beethoven's works. 3. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13, 'Pathétique': II. Adagio cantabile <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly1iTD0zB1Y> Here's the second movement of an earlier piano sonata, also performed by Kempff. Unfortunately the recording has some glitches during the climax and other loud sections. 4. Piano Sonata No. 21 in C, Op. 53, 'Waldstein': I. Allegro con brio <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjWBweNBHIM> Another piano sonata, this time performed by Russian pianist Emil Gilels. As its tempo suggests, this first movement is quite lively. The piece actually goes for a bit longer, but the full performance of the sonata has been split into parts by the uploader, possibly due to limitations by YouTube. 5. Violin Sonata No. 5 in F, Op. 24, 'Spring': II. Adagio molto espressivo <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmuNr7yqapE> While Beethoven was primarily a pianist, he composed for many other instruments. In this sonata, the violin is the focus, but accompanied by piano. This performance, by violinist Henryk Szeryng and pianist Arthur Rubinstein, is of the second movement. 6. Piano Trio No. 7 in B-Flat, Op. 97, 'Archduke': I. Allegro moderato <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwXljRJNN74> I couldn't leave this piece out, having recently read "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami. One of the characters in that book becomes obsessed with Beethoven's music, and with this piece in particular. From Beethoven's "middle" period, it is written for piano, violin and cello. It gets its name from its dedication, to a student and patron, Archduke Rudolph of Austria. Here the first movement is performed by Daniel Barenboim (piano), Pinchas Zukerman (violin) and Jacqueline du Pré (cello). 7. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat, Op. 73, 'Emperor': II. Adagio un poco mosso <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd9rg9v25bo> A concerto is a composition usually in three parts or movements, where a solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. In this, the second movement of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto, the piano doesn't kick in until around the two minute mark, but the sublime melody is worth the wait. This concerto came in at #2 in the ABC Classic FM's Classic 100 last year, and #1 in the Classic 100 Concertos in 2007. The performers of this version are Krystian Zimerman on piano, with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. 8. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15: III. Rondo: Allegro scherzando <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUfL8pnUorY> This performance of the upbeat third movement of Beethoven's first (published) piano concerto features Krystian Zimerman on piano again and conducting. 9. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61: III. Rondo <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmVPrYx5tQg> This is the third and final movement of the only concerto Beethoven composed for the violin as the principle instrument. Interestingly, this concerto was not well received when it premiered, but it became a staple of the genre after Beethoven's death. Last year it came in at #9 in last year's Classic 100. 10. Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: I. Allegro con brio <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK4zt1UTjmA> A symphony is an extended musical composition, almost always for a full orchestra. Most people will recognise the emphatic opening to this, the opening movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. This version is by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of big orchestral works, probably because I prefer more minimalist music. After building up to the full orchestral treatment, I'm going to wrap up this rough guide with two piano-only selections. 11. 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120 (part) <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYNXBDzpI-8> The Diabelli Variations was one of Beethoven's later works. It is regarded as one of the supreme compositions for the piano. Here Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy performs the opening theme and the first set of variations. 12. Rondo in C, Op. 51 No. 1: Moderato e grazioso <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVeMO4a8ql0> A rondo is a composition where a principal theme (the "refrain") alternates with one or more contrasting themes, generally called "episodes", I guess a bit like songs with choruses and verses. This performance features the Russian pianist, Sviatoslav Richter. Note that this video also features a piece by Brahms in the second half.