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BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van The composer of some of the most influential pieces of music ever written, Ludwig van Beethoven created a bridge between the 18th-century classical period and the new beginnings of Romanticism. His greatestbreakthroughs in composition came in his instrumental work, includinghis symphonies. Unlike his predecessor Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for whomwriting music seemed to come easily, Beethoven always struggled toperfect his work. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, and was baptized onDec. 17, 1770. (There is no record of his birth date.) His father andgrandfather worked as court musicians in Bonn. Ludwig's father, asinger, gave him his early musical training. Although he had only meageracademic schooling, he studied piano, violin, and French horn, andbefore he was 12 years old he became a court organist. Ludwig's firstimportant teacher of composition was Christian Gottlob Neefe. In 1787 hestudied briefly with Mozart, and five years later he left Bonnpermanently and went to Vienna to study with Joseph Haydn and later withAntonio Salieri. Beethoven's first public appearance in Vienna was on March 29, 1795,as a soloist in one of his piano concerti. Even before he left Bonn, hehad developed a reputation for fine improvisatory performances. InVienna young Beethoven soon had a long list of aristocratic patrons wholoved music and were eager to help him. Onset of Deafness In the late 1700s Beethoven began to suffer from early symptoms ofdeafness. The cause of his disability is still uncertain. By 1802Beethoven was convinced that the condition not only was permanent, butwas getting progressively worse. He spent that summer in the country andwrote what has become known as the "Heiligenstadt Testament." In thedocument, apparently intended for his two brothers, Beethoven expressedhis humiliation and despair. For the rest of his life he searched for acure, but by 1819 his deafness had become t...

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