Everybody knows genius German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and not everybody
knows about his non-german origins. So where does the name Beethoven come from?
In the 15th century, there was Beethoven’s at Limbourg and at Liège (the
Netherlands, now part of Belgium) and from the 16th century in Brabant. Then
Beethovens moved to Malines, Louvain, Anvers. Beethoven’s earliest known
patrilineal ancestor is Cornelius. His date of birth is unknown. According to
parish recordings, his funeral ceremony took place on March 26, 1716. He was
presumably a carpenter or joiner from Mechelen. in the Southern Netherlands (now
part of Belgium). Corneille married Catherine van Leempoel. He is the great
grandfather of the composer.
The grandfather of Beethoven, Lodewijk van Beethoven (1712–73) moved to Bonn at
the age of 21. Soon after his arrival in Bonn, he married Marie-Joseph Poll.
According to the recordings, he was a bass singer at the court, eventually
rising to become Kapellmeister.
Lodewijk had one son, Johann (1740–1792)․ He worked as a tenor in the same place
and gave lessons on piano and violin, but he suffered from alcoholism. Johann
married Maria Magdalena Keverich and Beethoven was born of this marriage in
Bonn. Johann and Maria had 7 children, three of whom lived into adulthood.
Before the composer, another Ludwig Maria van Beethoven was born in this family,
who died after 6 days of his birth. There is no authentic record of the date of
his birth; however, the registry of his baptism, in a Catholic service at the
Parish of St. Regius on 17 December 1770. Beethoven’s birthday celebrations
usually take place on this day.
(To be continued)