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Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770. He came from a family of musicians. His father and grandfather worked for the Electors of Cologne. The grandfather, Lodewyk van Beethoven came from Mechelen, Belgium and joined the court orchestra in Bonn as a bass player. He eventually became the conductor. His son Johann was a professional tenor at the court in Bonn and also played piano and violin. As Beethoven began to exhibited his outstanding musical talent at a young age, his father pushed for him to become a child prodigy. Johann gradually gave up when Beethoven s recitals were only marginally successful. Beethoven's mother then died when he was in his late teens. His mother's death drove his father to become an abusive alcoholic. Beethoven was then forced to take care of the needs of his brothers. These circumstances might have lead to Beethoven's eccentric personality and to the perfection which he placed on himself and his music. "His idiosyncratic working methods, his mournful isolation through deafness and the nobility of his total dedication to his art was what endowed him as almost a mythical figure" ( Hopkins 257). This leads to the creation of many wonderful pieces of music. The most famous of his works are the nine symphonies. His last symphony, especially the choral finale, is now recognized as one of the all time greatest achievements, not just in music but for humanity as a whole. Admired around the world, the symphony has been used countless times to underscore momentous occasions, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Ninth Symphony was completed in 1823, by which time Beethoven had been completely deaf for years. It's final movement, which is a triumphant setting to Schiller's Ode to Joy, broke new groun0ds in terms of scale and introduced choral forces into the symphony for the first time. " By this time Beethoven was ready for the almightiest risk of his life" ( Simpson 55). He was at the stage in...

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