Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, but as a young man he moved away and made a name for himself in Vienna, the bustling and exciting capital of Austria.
His father was also a musician, and he encouraged and promoted young Ludwig as best he could. Unfortunately his father was also very strict with him and the Beethoven family had little money to help him get started. Unlike Mozart, he was not able to travel all over Europe to see wealthy patrons who might hire him.
Despite these difficulties Beethoven did get a few lessons from the older Viennese master, Franz Joseph Haydn, and Beethoven did end up having a very successful musical career. This success is all the more astonishing considering that he went deaf as a young man. His anguish about his deafness is described in a touching letter, called the Heiligenstadt testament.
When he died there was a public outpouring, for he had been able to promote himself in a way that far exceeded what his father was able to do for him.
Beethoven's major compositions include his Third Symphony (The Eroica), his Fifth Symphony and his Ninth symphony. He also wrote many string quartets and piano sonatas. Among the best known piano sonatas are the "Pathetique" and the "Moonlight" sonatas.
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