Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany. He was the eldest of three boys. His father and grandfather were musicians.
Ludwig started learning the violin and piano at a very early age. In 1783 he published his first composition. He was only 13.
In 1787 he travelled to Vienna to study under Mozart, but returned to Bonn because his mother was dying. After her death he moved to Vienna. He never returned to his hometown.
In 1795 he gave his first public performance as a pianist. It was a success.
In the late 1790s, Beethoven began to lose his hearing and by 1819 he was completely deaf. It was during this period that he wrote some of his most famous compositions like Moonlight (1801), Eroica (1804), Pastoral (1808) and Emperor (1809). After he became deaf, he continued to compose great music which was joyful and optimistic.
In his later years, he was lonely and depressed and didn’t write much.
Although he fell in love several times he never married. Beethoven died on March 26, 1827 in Vienna after he caught pneumonia. More than 10.000 people came to his funeral.
Beethoven was the first composer who used music to express deep feelings and ideas, such as his belief in freedom and heroism. Even today he is for many people, the greatest composer ever.
Listen to three pieces of music by Beethoven. What images come to mind? How do you think Beethoven feel when he wrote each of them?