Profile of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig Von Beethoven
Ludwig Von Beethoven conducting Rasumowsky Quartette. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the world's most famous and influential composers of classical music. His music has been played all over the world for over 180 years. However, there are many people out there left in the dark about the facts, life, and music of Beethoven. 

Born in Bonn, Germany, his date of birth is uncertain but he was baptized on December 17, 1770. His father was Johann, a tenor singer, and his mother was Maria Magdalena. They had seven children but only three survived: Ludwig van Beethoven, Caspar Anton Carl and Nikolaus Johann. Ludwig was the second child. He died on March 26, 1827 in Vienna; his funeral was attended by thousands of mourners.

One of the Greats

One of the great composers of the Classical era known for his improvisation and expressive music. He began his career by playing at parties attended by wealthy people. He is also described as being moody and not too concerned about his appearance. As his popularity grew, so was the opportunity to travel to various European cities and perform. Beethoven's fame grew by the 1800s.

Type of Compositions

Beethoven wrote chamber music, sonatas, symphonies, songs and quartets, among others. His works include an opera, a violin concerto, 5 piano concerti, 32 piano sonatas, 10 sonatas for violin and piano, 17 string quartets and 9 symphonies.

Musical Influence

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered a musical genius. He received early instruction on the piano and violin from his father (Johann) and was later taught by van den Eeden (keyboard), Franz Rovantini (viola and violin), Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer (piano) and Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (counterpoint). His other teachers include Christian Gottlob Neefe (composition) and Antonio Salieri.

Other Influences and Notable Works

It is also believed that he received brief instruction from Mozart and Haydn. His works include "Piano Sonata, Op. 26" (The Funeral March), "Piano Sonata, Op. 27" (Moonlight Sonata), "Pathetique" (Sonata), "Adelaide" (song), "The Creatures of Prometheus" (ballet), "Symphony No. 3 Eroica, op. 55" (E flat Major), "Symphony No. 5, op. 67" (c minor) and "Symphony No. 9, op. 125" (d minor). Listen to a recording of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Five Interesting Facts

  1. On March 29, 1795, Beethoven made his first public appearance in Vienna.
  2. Beethoven suffered from abdominal pains and became deaf when he was in his late 20s (some say in his 30s). He managed to rise above his illness and physical limitations by creating some of the most beautiful and lasting music pieces in history. He wrote his third to eighth symphony when he was almost completely deaf.
  3. There is much mystery surrounding Beethoven's real cause of death. A study conducted by scientists using Beethoven's bone fragments and hair strands revealed that his abdominal pains might have been caused by lead poisoning.
  4. It has also been mentioned that Beethoven's father used to beat him in the head (around the ear area) when he was young. This might have damaged his hearing and contributed to his eventual hearing loss.
  5. Beethoven never married.