IELTS Reading: The Life of Beethoven

This lesson is to practice the yes no not given question types in IELTS reading. Skim read the passage first – don’t take too long doing this, you only want to get the gist of the passage. Then read through the questions and prepare the paraphrases etc. Download free PDF of the passage and questions below: IELTS Reading Practice YNNG Beethoven

The Life of Beethoven

beethoven ielts reading

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born on or near December 16, 1770, in Bonn, Germany. His personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness. The fact that Beethoven composed his most beautiful and extraordinary music while deaf is an almost superhuman feat of creative genius. He is widely considered the greatest composer of all time.

Sometime between the births of his two younger brothers, Beethoven’s father began teaching him music with an extraordinary rigor and brutality that affected him for the rest of his life. Neighbors provided accounts of the small boy weeping while he played the clavier, standing atop a footstool to reach the keys, his father beating him for each hesitation or mistake. Qs

  1. It is not known exactly when Beethoven was born.
  2. Beethoven’s father was also a talented musician.
  3. Beethoven suffered due to his father’s cruelty.
  4. It is possible that his early sufferings at the hands of his father resulted in his remarkable genius.
  5. He studied instrumental works with Antonio Salieri.
  6. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was inspired by Napoleon.
  7. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was so groundbreaking that even his contemporaries did not know how to approach it.
  8. By around 1804, Beethoven could hardly follow a conversation with someone.
  9. Beethoven continued to write music even though he was going deaf.
  10. Beethoven’s life was full of great works and bliss.

On a near daily basis, Beethoven was flogged, locked in the cellar and deprived of sleep for extra hours of practice. He studied the violin and clavier with his father as well as taking additional lessons from organists around town. Whether in spite of or because of his father’s draconian methods, Beethoven was a prodigiously talented musician from his earliest days and displayed flashes of the creative imagination that would eventually reach farther than any composer’s before or since.

When the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II died in 1790, a 19-year-old Beethoven received the immense honor of composing a musical memorial in his honor. In 1792, with French revolutionary forces sweeping across the Rhineland into the Electorate of Cologne, Beethoven decided to leave his hometown for Vienna. In Vienna, Beethoven dedicated himself wholeheartedly to musical study with the most eminent musicians of the age. He studied piano with Haydn, vocal composition with Antonio Salieri and counterpoint with Johann Albrechtsberger. Qs

  1. It is not known exactly when Beethoven was born.
  2. Beethoven’s father was also a talented musician.
  3. Beethoven suffered due to his father’s cruelty.
  4. It is possible that his early sufferings at the hands of his father resulted in his remarkable genius.
  5. He studied instrumental works with Antonio Salieri.
  6. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was inspired by Napoleon.
  7. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was so groundbreaking that even his contemporaries did not know how to approach it.
  8. By around 1804, Beethoven could hardly follow a conversation with someone.
  9. Beethoven continued to write music even though he was going deaf.
  10. Beethoven’s life was full of great works and bliss.

In 1804, only weeks after Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor, Beethoven debuted his Symphony No. 3 in Napoleon’s honor. It was his grandest and most original work to date — so unlike anything heard before that through weeks of rehearsal, the musicians could not figure out how to play it. At the same time as he was composing these great and immortal works, Beethoven was struggling to come to terms with a shocking and terrible fact, one that he tried desperately to conceal. He was going deaf. By the turn of the century, Beethoven struggled to make out the words spoken to him in conversation. Beethoven’s Ninth and final symphony, completed in 1824, remains the illustrious composer’s most towering achievement. The symphony’s famous choral finale is perhaps the most famous piece of music in history.

Despite his extraordinary output of beautiful music, Beethoven was frequently miserable throughout his adult life. Beethoven died on March 26, 1827, at the age of 56.

Questions 1- 10

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer? Write

  • yes – if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
  • no – if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
  • not given – if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
  1. It is not known exactly when Beethoven was born.
  2. Beethoven’s father was also a talented musician.
  3. Beethoven suffered due to his father’s cruelty.
  4. It is possible that his early sufferings at the hands of his father resulted in his remarkable genius.
  5. He studied instrumental works with Antonio Salieri.
  6. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was inspired by Napoleon.
  7. Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 was so groundbreaking that even his contemporaries did not know how to approach it.
  8. By around 1804, Beethoven could hardly follow a conversation with someone.
  9. Beethoven continued to write music even though he was going deaf.
  10. Beethoven’s life was full of great works and bliss.
Answers
  1. Yes
  2. Not Given
  3. Yes
  4. Yes
  5. No
  6. Not Given
  7. Yes
  8. Yes
  9. Yes
  10. No

Passage from biography.com

 

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Comments

  1. Well it’s my 1st time😔😔 and I did really bad…. I got 6/10
    1st up I didn’t understand why the answer of question number 3 is yes… because the question says due to his father’s cruelty and then the passage describes that he suffered for the rest of his life…. i personally didn’t find any resemblances😔😔 (probably i am not getting it properly)
    After that number 9…. i gave the answer not given nevertheless in the answer it says yes…
    I’m not getting it properly 😔

    • Question 3: the key is the word “brutality”. A clear paraphrase.
      Question 9: the key is the order of information. This biog of Beethoven is in chronological order which means order following dates:
      “Beethoven was struggling to come to terms with a shocking and terrible fact, one that he tried desperately to conceal. He was going deaf. By the turn of the century, Beethoven struggled to make out the words spoken to him in conversation. Beethoven’s Ninth and final symphony, completed in 1824, remains the illustrious composer’s most towering achievement.” (he found out he was going deaf and after that wrote his 9th and final symphony.

  2. Wow,I’m so impressed with myself right now.I got everything right.First time I trashed a yes/no questions. Thanks a lot ma’am for this resource

  3. Hi Liz,

    Being a composer myself, I approached question 7 slightly differently. To me, Beethovens contemporaries dont exactly mean the orchestral musicians but rather fellow composers. And since his time, there is a trend that musicians often find it difficult to understand the composers intentions.

    Hence, I marked it as NG. As I thought that although the musicians found it difficult, as expected, no one knows what fellow composers (contemporaries), like say, Salieri or Mozart thought about the work.

    But it seems that contemporaries here is used as a synonym for ”fellow musicians at that time”.

    What do you think?

    Thanks,
    JE

    • There will never be a prefect paraphrase because each word is different in English. But that sentence (so unlike anything heard before that through weeks of rehearsal, the musicians could not figure out how to play it.” certainly does not mean the opposite and the information is definitely not missing. It is as close a paraphrase as possible. The word contemporaries meaning people at that time which would include either musicians or composers.

  4. Ljubinka says:

    I got 9/10. I made question number 4 wrong because i understood from the passage that wasn’t sure that Beethoven became musician because of his father methods of teaching or that he was born with this talent and would become successful anyway:)…It a bit complicated sentence in second part, difficult vocab…but i understand meaning of “in spite of” and because”. Could anyone give me clarification in details about this sentence? Thank you:)

    • in the passage it mentioned ” whether in spite of or because of his father’s dracanion method…” so it is possible…

  5. 9/10

    but I have a quesiton..

    If ‘ by the turn of the century’ has the same meaning of ” around the century” , It also can mean the year 1790, 1793 to 1799 not only 1801 to 1810.

    Thank you, Liz

  6. Hi Liz,

    First I would like to thanks and appreciate for your extra ordinary work. This is the only site which I am using for practice as it covers all the aspects of test.

    I am confused with question 5 and 6.
    My answer for 5 and 6.
    5. No (correct)
    6. No (correct ans is NG).

    Let me explain how I arived at the answers (I have used your reading tips of checking oposite of question to conclude the answer, However the tip worked for question 5 while it didn’t for 6)

    I checked the opposite of question whether it is YES/NO.

    Opposite of question 5: He didn’t study instumental work with Antonia Salieri
    Answer to Opposite of question 5: Yes
    So I concluded the answer for question 5 to be NO

    Similarly I checked the opposite of question 6.
    Opposite of question 6: Beethoven’s Symphony No . 3 was not inspired by Napolean
    Answer to Opposite of question 6: Yes
    So I concluded the answer for question 6 to be NO

    Is this approach correct? Can you suggest to conclude the answer in such situation.

    Thanks for you support.

    regards,
    Vinayak

  7. Hi Liz,

    On question 10, I’m choosing answer of Not Given.
    Could you point me where could I find evidence of sentence to question 10?

  8. Hi Liz,

    I appreciate your work, it’s very helpful.
    TFNG questions are very difficult for me. Nevertheless, I did well in this test, 9/10. Question no. 5 is a No and I don’t understand why. I thought that it was a Not Given because it’s not mentioned in the passage that Beethoven didn’t study instrumental works with Antonio Salieri. The fact that he studied vocal composition doesn’t mean that he didn’t studied instrumental works.

    Thank you.

  9. Good morning Mrs. Liz, I would really appreciate if you can help me with this :

    Passage:For the first century or so of the industrial revolution, increased productivity led to decrease in working hours.Employees who had been put into 12-hours day,six days a week, found their time on the job shrinking to 10 hours daily ,then finally to 8 hours ,5 days a week. Only a generation ago , social planners worries about what people would do with all this new found free time. In the Us, it seems at least they need not have bothered.
    Although the output per hour of work has more than doubles since 1945, leisure seems reserved largely for the unemployed and underemployed. Those who work full-time spend as much on the job as they did at the end of the World War II. In fact, working hours have increased noticeably since 1970 , perhaps because real wages have stagnated since that year .Bookstores now abound with manuals describing how to manage time and cope with stress.

    Questions: (T,F,NG)
    -Today, employees are facing reduction in working hours.
    -Social planners have been consulted about US employment figures.

    I would really appreciate your effort to explain how would you decide the answers for theses questions ,I’m stuck !

    Thanks in advance for your great help
    Ewadh

    • Your first question clue is the word “Today”. Find information which relates to the present, not the past. If you put a line through all sentences about the past, you will find your answer. Look at the grammar to know the tense. For the second question, can you find any information about “social planners”? If you can’t find it, it is NG. However, make sure social planners is not mentioned in subsequent sentences.
      Liz

      • Thanks for your response, I could not find any clue about the present so I answered NG but the tense ” working hours have increased noticeably since 1970s” confuses me , can I rely on this as clue for the present time?

        • Of the paragraph you gave me, only this “Although the output per hour of work has more than doubled since 1945, leisure seems reserved largely for the unemployed and underemployed. Those who work full-time spend as much on the job as they did at the end of the World War II. In fact, working hours have increased noticeably since 1970 , perhaps because real wages have stagnated since that year .Bookstores now abound with manuals describing how to manage time and cope with stress.” contains information about the present. The present perfect tense is used for past actions which are still relevant today.
          All the best
          Liz
          Liz

  10. Though I answered q-3 correctly, I took long time to find the correct answer. I understood the meaning and I think that the information about the torture by van’s father has been given from the middle of the 2nd para to the end of 3rd para. But for that torture whether he suffered or not is not given. May be the torture was normal to him. Please correct me.

    • The key is to understand the question more. It states “he suffered from his father’s cruelty” this means he had a bad experience because his father treated him badly. It is not about torture.
      Liz

  11. Hi Liz!

    I got 5/10 🙁

    ccould you please explain why

    i got no.1, 6, 7, 8, and 9 wrong…
    my exam is in 30 days 🙁

    • Hi Liz,

      what really confuses me is no.9. My answer is NG because it says ‘By around 1804’, in the passage, it didnt mention the year 1804..

      please correct me.. I still need a lot of practice! Thank you in advance Liz 🙂

      • The answer is here: At the same time as he was composing these great and immortal works, Beethoven was struggling to come to terms with a shocking and terrible fact, one that he tried desperately to conceal…”. The words “at the same time” refers to 1804. Always read the sentences surround the answer not just the sentence which contains the answer. In English, we refer back to other piece of information previously stated so always read around the answer.
        All the best
        Liz

    • Number 9 is obvious. There are a list of works that he wrote after it was stated that he was going deaf. I think the problems is that you are trying to find the answer in just one sentence or just a few words instead of trying to find the meaning in the passage. Aim for the actual meaning instead of looking for just synonyms.
      Liz

  12. Hi Liz,

    I got 9/10 because the number 6 was quite confusing for me, I thought the answer in “no”.

    • The answer is found here: “In 1804, only weeks after Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor, Beethoven debuted his Symphony No. 3 in Napoleon’s honor. “. We see that the symphony was written in his honour which means it was written for him. But we don’t know what inspired him.
      All the best
      Liz

  13. Hi Liz,

    In your reading tips video, You mentioned that T/F/NG and Y/N/NG has one difference. T/F/ are based on factual data whereas the other type of questions must follow writers opinion in finding correct ans. Did i understand it correctly?

    • That’s right. But generally there is little difference. YNNG are used with passages that are speculative and TFNG are used with passages that are factual. The same technique is used for both.
      Liz

  14. But 8 I`m not sure is true.Anywhere i can see to write that he has got a dificulties to speak with people

    • “Beethoven struggled to make out the words spoken to him in conversation.” This means he had problems to talk to people because he couldn’t hear what they were saying to him. Most deaf people have a problem to talk to people. Don’t try to match words. Match meaning.
      Liz

  15. So bad. Only 7/10. I find questions 4, 6, and 9 tricky ones. Can you explain further how did it come to an answer like that?

  16. My very first reading test , I scored 8/10 . I found very tricky #3 and #8 , started overthinking, one of my problems when it comes this type of question. Awesome website Liz, Keep them coming! =D

  17. Sharnjeet Singh Jaura says:

    Hello Liz,
    I scored 9/10, but still I think that if I would be making 1 or 2 questions wrong in every type of questions that at least 14 questions would be wrong, and this might be affecting my band score. Don’t you think like that? Would be there all 14 type of questions coming in the reading exam? Is it a good score according to you?
    I just got my 9th questions wrong because I did not know the meaning of ” composing” . 🙁

  18. sai kiran says:

    Hello liz,

    i got 7/10

    Is that good score ?

    thanks,
    sai kiran.

    • Yes, 7 out of 10 is good. It was quite a difficult passage. That would be equivalent to about band 6.5.
      Liz

  19. Hi Liz

    i scored 9/10 !
    i must admit that following your brilliant tips for ys/no/ng questions , i’ve started getting kind of comfortable at this particular question type .
    You are doing such a great Job! keep it up…

    Best regards

  20. Thanks Liz for this exercise .

    Can you please clarify question 5 why it is not Given ?

    regards
    Sakshi

    • This is the sentence with the key to the answer: “vocal composition with Antonio Salieri ” – you need to look in the dictionary to check the meaning of “vocal” and decide if it is the same as “instrumental”. The key is understanding vocabulary and knowing when something is or isn’t a synonym.
      All the best
      Liz

    • Sharnjeet Singh Jaura says:

      The answer of the 5th question is ” no ” because vocal mans practicing something verbal, but instrumental is doing practice with some musical or other instruments. So, that is why it is ” NO” . Hope it would be helpful to you.

      Regards,
      Sharnjeet.

  21. dear mam,
    can you explain the #10.the passage says,he provided beautiful music,which we can deem work,and of course his life is miserable outright.Half true and Half false,i’m cofused,so i consider it as NG.
    4/10-it is really disappointing,i suppose

    Sincerely,
    Yeahia

  22. teacher,question # 2 is yes,
    “Beethoven’s father began teaching him music with an extraordinary rigor and brutality that affected him for the rest of his life.”
    according to this statement,his father, he had a knowledge about music.
    so question # 2 way is NOT GIVEN.
    hope for the reply.
    thanks.

    • The passage says his father could teach music. It does not say if the father was talented or not.
      Liz

  23. quetion 4 is quite confusing,my answer is No.

    • This sentence “Whether in spite of or because of his father’s draconian methods, Beethoven was a prodigiously talented musician from his earliest days and displayed flashes of the creative imagination that would eventually reach farther than any composer’s before or since.” shows that it is possible that his suffering, at the hands of this father, resulted in his genius. Don’t forget that the word “possible” matches the meaning.
      All the best
      Liz

  24. Hi Liz,
    I just missed the 9th question. I wrote “NG” as the statement said ” Beethoven continued to write music evem though he was going deaf” but comparatively in the passage its been mentioned that his last music was in the year 1824. I’m little confused here with the time frame.
    Could you please help me justify this statement.

    Thanks a lot in advance,
    Raj 🙂

    • The question is about Beethoven continuing to write music after he started to go deaf. Although there is no fixed sentence with that specific information, it does state that he wrote some music at the same time as starting to go deaf and then he wrote more. That information means the answer is Yes. Don’t forget that the information you are looking for might be contained in more than one sentence. When you locate the area in the text where the answer is, read all the sentences around it to check your answer.
      All the best
      Liz

  25. can you explain to me the difference between’ instrumental works’ in question 5 and the phrase “vocal composition” in the passage? thank you so much.

    • I’m currently on holiday but I’m sure you will understand if you check in a dictionary for “instrumental music” and “vocal” and “composition”.
      All the best
      Liz

  26. I got everything right here. I think its the stress of finishing it in time that affects me.. Hope I will be able to do well tomorrow. Thanks a lot Liz for giving this reading test.

  27. Hi Liz,
    Would you please explain where the answer for question 4 in the essay.

    Regards

    Nazih

    • Hi Nazih,

      The answer for question 4 is the third sentence in the third paragraph “Whether in spite of or because of his father’s draconian methods….”. You need to decide if that sentence matches the meaning of question 4. Try to use your dictionary to check the words and to understand the full meaning – you will learn more from finding out the answer for yourself than me telling you. And don’t forget that this isn’t an essay, it is just a reading passage.
      All the best
      Liz

  28. Hi Liz,
    No.8, around 1804 = by the turn of the century??? thanks

    • Hi Albert,

      That’s right. Well done! Turn of the century means at the beginning of the century.
      Liz

      • Around 1804 means 1801 to 1807 or 08,,,do this word “around” have specific range or if anybody say early 18th century then what would be the range of years, is 1830 will lie in this meaning? Pardon me but I always stay confuse regarding this word. Can u explain a bit?

        • The word “around” is relative. But any sentence that says “around 1804” means at the beginning of that century. 1830 is not at the beginning, it is 30% through the century.
          Liz

  29. in 1804 only weeks after Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor. Beethoven debuted his symphony no3 in Napoleon honor. it was his grandest and most original work to date. so unlike anything heard before that through weeks of rehearsal the musician could not figure out to play it at the same time as he………………………………………i dont understand and tell me please about it relate to the question and ans ………..

    • Hi,

      The sentence “Beethoven debuted his symphony no3 in Napoleon honor.” relates to question 6 about “symphony no3 was inpsired by Napoleon”. “debuted” means performed for the first time. “in honour of someone” means it was performed for him. Now you must decide if those words have the same meaning as the question.

      The next part of the passage you have written is about the fact that other musicians didn’t know how to play the music. This relates to question number 7 about his work being “groundbreaking” that his “contemporaries did not know how to approach it”. “groundbreaking” means very new and “contemporaries” means other musicians of his period. Now you must decide if the passage and question matches.

      It’s all testing your understanding of vocabulary.
      All the best
      Liz

  30. its really helpful…plz post more reading exercises…. thank u Liz…

  31. Rene Agsam says:

    Got a mistake at number 9 ma’am Liz. I got confused because I relied on the given statement. I just saw the word deaf and not continued. Now enlightened that it should not be matching words but I should evaluated if the statement agrees or contradicts with the writer’s claim.
    God bless you more with the wisdom and knowledge you unselfishly shared.

  32. Hi Liz
    i have 5/10 means i need to study for several years
    thank you

  33. 9/10

  34. Hi Liss:
    Are you giving training for PTE academic test.Is there any useful sites you have to prepare for the exam.
    Thnks

  35. Hi liz, my question is on number 7 about contemporaries – i thought a period or specified time is usually applied but here i guess the answer came from “so unlike anything heard before”. I assessed it as comparing the present to the past which does not justifies contemporaries can you please shed light on it .

    • Hi,

      This is a tricky word. This word has two meanings. You are thinking of the adjective but in this passage it is used as a noun. A contemporary is someone of the same age or same time period (a person). In this passage, it means the other musicians of his period. We often refer to contemporaries when we talk about a famous person and the other people in his field at that time.
      Regards
      Liz

  36. Hum~! I made 3 mistakes out of 10. Number 1,6 and 7. Thanks a million for practicing me with life of the greatest composer.

    • That’s not bad. Question 1 is mainly testing your technique and your attention to detail, for example they give a date but also say that it might be this date or close to this date. For numbers 6 and 7, the vocabulary wasn’t easy. So, only 3 wrong is pretty good. Glad you liked the topic 🙂
      Liz

  37. hi liz
    i dont understand the question 6.7.8 please clarify about it

    • Hi,

      This is all testing your vocabulary. To accomplish these questions, you will need to check the meaning of:

      1. inspire
      2. groundbreaking
      3. contemporaries
      4. to follow a conversation

      All the best
      Liz

  38. Hi Liz ,
    In the second question,Beethoven’s father teach him,this mean his father also a musician.But the answer is not given.I’m totally confusing madam.

    • Hi,

      You need to read the question more carefully. The statement says that his father was a talented musician. This means he was a musician who was talented or gifted. You need to try and find that information in the passage.
      All the best
      Liz

  39. Hi Liz
    This my answer
    1-no
    2- yes
    3-yes
    4-not given
    5-no
    6-not given
    7-no
    8-no
    9-yes
    10-yes

  40. Dear liz i try to confirm follow then another site open (-wordpress.com ) then i dont khnow what to do
    please check

    • Hi,

      When you unsubscribe, it takes you to another page. This is a wordpress page. On that page, there are two options – confirm or not confirm. Just press confirm and it will confirm the unsubscribe.
      Liz

  41. Hi Liz,
    thanks for posting this reading passage.but in this passage, I have a little bit confussion in question 1. the word “not known exactly” .but Beethoven was born on or near December 16,1770.here in the passage they given exact date,month,year.so ,the given statement was opposite to the passage ,then I choose “No” but I was wrong. could you please explain this .

    • Hi,

      “not known exactly” means that the date is unsure. They can’t be certain about the date. They may know more or less when but they don’t know exactly when. This has the same meaning as the passage because they are not sure exactly which day he was born – they can only estimate it “on or near”.
      Liz

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