Ludwig van Beethoven


Born: December 16th, 1770 in Bonn, Germany
Died: March 36th, 1827 (at age 57) in Vienna, Austria
Nationality: German
Fields: symphonies, piano sonatas, piano concertos, string quartets, chamber music
Famous For: His Fifth and Ninth Symphonies.

Ludwig van Beethoven is widely considered the most famous composer in history. He is still very well known and influential to this day. The life’s work of Beethoven radically changed music forever.

Early Years

Beethoven was one of seven children and be was born in Bonn in 1770. Four of his siblings did not survive past infancy. He was the grandson of a musician and this likely had a tremendous impact on his gravitating toward music. Beethoven’s father, Johann, was his first music teacher. It is said that his father was incredibly strict, to the point of being brutal in his instruction.

Beethoven would also have many other music teachers from his local area. In 1779, Beethoven began to study under an organist named Christian Gottlob Neefe. It was Neefe who taught Beethoven the fine art of music composition. Beethoven would go on to become Neefe’s organist assistant. Serving as an assistant helped enhance the legendary composer’s understanding of composition.

In 1787, Beethoven was to spend time in Vienna to study with Mozart. However, his mother became ill and Beethoven would have to return home to care for his mother. She later passed away.

Beethoven in Vienna

Beethoven would eventually move to Vienna in 1792. He did this in order to establish a career as a performer and not as a composer. He would further his studies into such areas as violin performances. Beethoven was a popular performer in Vienna and he was very well known for being a skilled and talented pianist.

Composition Work

From 1798 to 1800, Beethoven would work very hard at becoming a composer. During this two year period, he would create the highly regarded first six string quartets. This would soon be followed by the “First and Second Symphonies” along with a piano sonata. His compositions became very well regarded performances. Beethoven’s fame quickly grew and it began to rival that of Mozart.

Beethoven would also begin to share his knowledge. He became a teacher of many of the children of high society. His main passion was composing and he continued to do very well at it.

Losing Hearing

One of the most pivotal points in Beethoven’s life would be when he suffered from a loss of hearing. At the young age of 26, Beethoven would be hit with tinnitus that would cause loss of hearing. To this day, no one is sure what caused this to happen. Beethoven worried greatly the onset of hearing loss would prove to be the end of his career. It was not. He was able to continue writing compositions, but his ability to perform was hampered.

One of the more interesting outcomes of his hearing loss was that he began to communicate with friends via writing. There are several books in Beethoven’s handwriting that reflect these conversations and they offer amazing insight into his thoughts on music.

Beethoven would eventually pass way on March 26th, 1827 from what was most likely liver damage.