The Life and Music of a Deaf Composer

Throughout history, there had been a number of deaf composers who had achieved great success in their musical careers. These composers had tremendous passion for music, and their unflagging commitment to their passion had enabled them to overcome their hearing disabilities to create beautiful musical pieces. Today, they are regarded as symbols of the triumph of human spirit, and they are a source of inspiration for many musicians.

Ludwig Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven is known as one of the greatest and most influential composers of all time. He was baptized on the 17th of December, 1770 in Bonn, Germany, and he demonstrated extraordinary musical talent at a very young age. He gave his first public performance at the age of seven, and he published his first work, entitled “9 variations in C minor for piano”, before he turned twelve. To further his music career, Beethoven went to Vienna in 1787, and he met Mozart and studied music under Haydn there. In 1801, he revealed to his friends in Bonn that he was becoming deaf. His hearing deteriorated very slowly, and he became almost completely deaf in 1814. Nonetheless, his deafness did not prevent him from making music. Since it made communication with other people more difficult, it somehow reinforced his individuality and enabled him to produce very original works. Some of his most famous compositions included the nine symphonies; Rasumovsky string quartets; piano sonatas such as “Fur Elise”, “Waldstein”, “Pathetique”, “Moonlight”, “Appassionata”, and “Les Adieux”; as well as overtures such as “King Stephen”, “Ruins of Athens”, and “Egmont”. Ludwid van Beethoven passed away on the 26th of March, 1827 because of liver damage, but his legacy continues to shine until this very day.

William Boyce

William Boyce was born in September, 1711 in London, and he showed an interest in musical sounds while he was an infant. He studied under Charles King, an almoner in the St. Paul’s Cathedral, and he became a choirboy in the church. After his voice broke, he pursued a musical education under Maurice Greene, and he managed to secure employment as an organist at a chapel in 1734. He became a Master of the King’s Musick in the year 1755, and then, a Chapel Royal organist in 1758. Nevertheless, his increasing deafness caused him to give up his organist posts, and he began to work on unfinished compositions by Greene. His best known works include his eight symphonies, the masque “Peleus and Thetis”; songs for the “Secular Masque”; incidental music for Romeo and Juliet, Tempest, Cymbeline, and The Writer’s Tale; and his twelve trio sonatas. William Boyce passed away on the 7th of February, 1779.

Felix Draeseke

Felix Draeseke was born on the 7th of October, 1835 in Coburg, Germany. By the time he was eight years old, he had already started writing compositions. He studied music at the Leipzig conservatory, but the education he received there did not contribute much to his development. In September, 1853, he was diagnosed with ear infection, and he would experience hearing difficulties later in his life. He joined the New German School camp in 1856, and he started to gain the admiration of established German musicians of that time. In the following years, he enjoyed great success as a composer, and he received appointment to the Dresden Conservatory in 1884. Felix Draeseke became totally deaf in his final years, and he passed away on the 26th of February, 1913. Some of his famous compositions include the “Symphonia Tragica”, “B Minor Requiem”, “A Major String Quartet”, “Serenade in F Major”, “Sonata Quasi Fantasia”, “Herrat”, and “Gudrun”.

Bedrich Smetana

Bedrich Smetana is known as the “father of Czech music” because he pioneered a musical style that closely represented his country’s aspirations for independence. He was born on the 2nd of March, 1824 in Litomsyl, Bohemia, and he was already performing publicly as a pianist by the age of six. After completing his regular high school education, he moved to Prague where he studied music under a blind pianist called Josef Proksch, and then, he began his music career as a concert pianist, composer, and music teacher. Financial problems forced him to move to Sweden, where he gained great financial support as well as admiration. After he returned to Prague in 1861, he started to create some of his most important compositions. He became deaf in the year 1875 because of syphillis, but this did not stop him from writing his finest compositions. His most famous works include the “Piano Trio in G Minor”, “Ma Vlast”, “From My Life”, “Fantasy on Czech Folk Songs”, and others. Bedrich Smetana suffered senile dementia in his final years, and he died in an asylum in Prague on the 12th of May, 1884.