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Bonn (Germany) 1770 - Vienna (Austria) 1827
Born in a modest family of musicians, Ludwig, has always been very interested in music.
His father, a tenor at the elector's court, tries and fails to make of him the new child prodigy. Due to his brutality and alcoholism, he doesn't have managed to teach music to his son.
Beethoven keeps on learning music in Bonn with famous musicians, as Christian Gottlob Neefe who becomes his friend and patron. He also makes friend with the doctor F. and the family von Breuning, and he will stay closer all his life. He learns how to play the violin, the piano but he is as his best when he's playing the organ.
He leaves to Vienna in 1787 where he shortly meets Mozart, but has to come back quickly to Bonn because his mother has just dead. Then he takes care of his brothers as his father's health is declining. After his father's death in 1792, Beethoven will set in Vienna for the rest of his life. He attends to Haydn and Salieri's classes and plays for the first time in public in 1795. He goes on tour for the first in 1796 and gets a standing ovation for his improvisation's skills on the piano.
In 1800, he composes his first symphony and the first signs of his deafness begin to appear ( he will express his despair in the famous Heiligenstadt testament in 1802). Despite of his handicap, he keeps writing more and more music. He composes his single opera Leonore in 1803 ( later reworked to Fidelio), the violin concerto, several symphonies including the Pastorale and piano works (the letter to Elisa). In 1808, Beethoven wishes to leave Vienna but his patrons want him to stay here and decide to pay him an annuity. He's one of the first artists to be financially independent.
The year 1815 is a turning point in his life. He is not longer the favorite musician in Vienna , becomes completly deaf. He obtains the guardianship of his nephew but the later is the source of numerous troubles. Despite his deafness and his financial problems, he keeps on composing great works such as missa solemnis and the 9th symphony.
He died at the age of 56 and the huge crowd gathers at his funeral. Beethoven has had a great influence on western music, especially regarding symphony but also the piano, chamber music or opera.