Beethoven was born in Bonn Germany on December 17, 1770. He became a professional musician at the age of eleven. His father hoped that Beethoven’s musical ability would earn him a fortune, just as Mozart’s ability had for his father. However, Beethoven was very independent and he broke away from his alchoholic father at a young age.
In 1792 Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria where he studied with Haydn and Mozart. Beethoven was first recognized there for his emotional piano playing, but people soon learned that he was an excellent composer as well. Because of his great talent, Beethoven was supported by many private patrons. He is said to be the first important composer to make a living without receiving money from the court or the church.
Beethoven’s music received special recognition, because it was both technically excellent and emotionally charged. Beethoven combined strong, loud notes with gentle, quiet notes to create the sense of changing emotions in his symphonic works. A very good example of this style is the widely celebrated ninth symphony. The intense feelings expressed in this and other works by Beethoven give his music a universal appeal.
Beethoven’s status as one of the world’s greatest composers is especially remarkable, because he wrote many of his symphonies after he became deaf. By the 1820s, he was completely deaf and could only communicate with people through hand-written phrases and sentences. However, the music he composed at this time is considered to be his best work.
During the last part of his life, Beethoven suffered from many emotional problems. The death of his younger brother Caspar Carl in 1815 was especially difficult for him. Beethoven took custody of his brother’s son Karl. However, his desperate efforts to make Karl a great musician drove the young man to attempt suicide in 1826. Beethoven’s health began to fail shortly after, and he died on March 26, 1827.