Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven

Today is recognized as the anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1740. His exact birthdate is unknown, but his baptism was recorded on December 17th. In the time and place he was born, it was customary to baptize babies the day after birth, so he was probably born on the 16th. Besides, Beethoven himself celebrated the anniversary of his birth on the 16th.
While he was born 241 years ago, he may have had a profound impact on the digital age, since some believe that when the compact disc was developed, it had to have enough capacity/length to hold Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. (The 9th Symphony when recorded on LP records filled 3 sides.)

According to Wired online: When Sony and Philips were negotiating a single industry standard for the audio compact disc in 1979 and 1980, the story is that one of four people (or some combination of them) insisted that a single CD be able to hold all of the Ninth Symphony. The four were the wife of Sony chairman Akio Morita, speaking up for her favorite piece of music; Sony VP Norio Ohga (the company’s point man on the CD), recalling his studies at the Berlin Conservatory; Mrs. Ohga (her favorite piece, too); and conductor Herbert von Karajan, who recorded for Philips subsidiary Polygram and whose Berlin Philharmonic recording of the Ninth clocked in at 66 minutes.

You can check out books about Beethoven or CDs of Beethoven’s music. Also, read more about Beethoven on the Minnesota Public Radio site.

Barbara Misselt, Director

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