Ludwig van Beethoven Biography

Ludwig van Beethoven (b.1770- d.1827) was the equivalent of a rock star today. Bombastic, rebellious, and revolutionary, he quickly gained a reputation in his twenties as a composer not to be trifled with. In classical improvisation meets - equivalent to rap freestyle battles today - he would turn up with his hair matted and simply dressed, and shame pretentious musicians in their powdered wigs and frocks in front of audiences of noble music aficionados.


Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn Germany, the son of a failed alcoholic musician. His father quickly saw musical talent in Beethoven and began grooming him for exploitation as a cash cow for the family. HIs mother never seemed to warm to Beethoven either.

And Beethoven had to study cram. His father would make him practice for hours everyday. If he got a note wrong, or tried to experiment with a score, his father would slap him across his knuckles and verbally abuse him. .

His first great masterpiece was crafted at 19 years old. The wind section of it the orchestra grumbled was too complex so it was not actually performed.

Beethoven's youthful musical style with was not appreciated by many of the status quo. His music was described as "hare brained" and "chaotic" by some of the old school consumers. While others thought of his work as bold and hip, a reflection of revolutionary times.

Beethoven's work style was scruffy and disheveled. Accounts of visitors to his pad recount stains on his furniture, leftover bits of food around the room, ink spots on his piano, and a general lack of room hygiene. And his creative energy was violent. He would break hammers and bust strings on his grand piano as he played. Beethoven would plunge his head into cold water when he needed to stay awake.

Most remarkable is that Beethoven began to lose his hearing at age 28, cause unknown. Yet symphony number nine, many people's favorite, he composed while entirely deaf!

Beethoven died in bed during a violent thunderstorm in 1827. His hair was shaved and locks given as souvenirs to his staunchest fans.

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Article Last Updated: August 31 2014
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