In the mid-thirties of the nineteenth century the musical world realized that Beethoven had changed the traditional, secular position of the composer of music towards the community; he had changed it radically especially after 1810 or so.
Beethoven defined himself as a "Poet of Music", because "artist" in his time was a generic term, but above all because "Poet" referred to the intellectual world rather than the artisan one.
Mozart was a craftsman, that is, he was a worker who tried to satisfy the needs of the community and therefore had to be able to do everything, from the mass to the small instrumental page, to the small melody for singing and piano.
In Vienna, especially in the last years of his life, there were several musicians who from the point of view of musical production were much more acclaimed than him. Although from the point of view of artistic stature their compositions were not comparable, Salieri as a composer was better than Mozart, in Vienna he was the favorite of the public, he was called by the Paris Theater, he was a composer of international fame. Salieri was not a pianist while Mozart was a great pianist, but even in this field he was far less popular than Kozeluch, who had managed to keep audiences for a long time.
Beethoven at a certain moment in his life, we do not know exactly when, decides that he no longer wants to be an artisan of music and that art should be the production structure of his work.
He immediately realizes that this presents a very big problem: in order to be a poet of sound it was necessary to have an economic guarantee, a secure income that would allow him to survive and eventually be able to refuse what was required of him by society, by collectivity.
Beethoven brilliantly manages to persuade Prince Lichnowsky to become his patron. Prince Lichnowsky assures him the payment of a certain annual sum without asking him for anything in return and Beethoven therefore becomes free to compose whatever he wants. After a few years, however, Beethoven clumsily quarrels with Prince Lichnowsky, who cuts off his donation.
This condition of extreme agitation and deep concern for his own survival makes him want to return to being an artisan of music. But Beethoven manages, quite quickly, to convince three other aristocrats to sign an annuity through a real contract that protects him from all worries.
But why did Beethoven want to be a "poet of music"?
He was a man of the French Revolution who had proclaimed the rights of man: freedom, brotherhood, equality.
Freedom is given by law, that is, it is the law that tells you that you are free to express yourself, to open a newspaper, to open a business, etc.
Fraternity is a feeling, and it is a feeling of religious origin. Christ had said: "Love your neighbor as yourself".
Equality arises from the principle that "all men are equal", but in practice it is only education extended to all that makes men truly equal.
For Beethoven, music is truly educational, in the sense passed on from ancient Greece, that is, an expression of the Beautiful and the Good. What Beethoven is looking for is not so much education in music, but education through music.
The educational factor he aims at is Virtue, and he says it very well in the letter to the brothers of 1802, known as the "Heiligenstadt Testament": "Don't think about money, money does not give happiness. It is the Virtue that gives happiness. Virtue and my Art prevented me from putting an end to my life".
The "Poet" Beethoven no longer responds to the needs of the community, but he develops these needs, provoking in the community the need for education.