Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany on December 16, 1770. He began receiving musical instruction from his father at the age of 5 and at the age of 9 he became a pupil of Christian Gottlob Neefe. By 1784, he was court organist and had already published Variations upon a March by Dressler and three piano sonatas. He made his first trip to Vienna in 1787 and it is said that he played for Mozart. The death of his mother cut short his stay in Vienna and he was forced to return home to become head of the family, He began tutoring the children of the wealthy and developed a taste for literature.
In 1792, he returned to Vienna to study with Haydn, Schenk and other famous composers and musicians. The aristocracy of the city warmly accepted him and he received much of his financial support from the noblemen. However, he refused to play the role of court musician because he did not want to give up his freedom as a composer. At his first public concert in 1795, he played his Concerto No. 2 in B flat major for Piano and this brought him immediate acclaim as a pianist. The first symptoms of his deafness began to appear in 1798, but he continued to produce masterpieces, such as Triple Concerto in C Major for Piano, Violin and Cello, which he wrote in 1804. He found it very difficult to perform in public and in 1814 he made his last appearance as a pianist.
For the last seven years of his life, Beethoven was completely deaf. Even with the hearing loss, he composed some of his best works during this period. The Symphony of No.9 in D Minor was his last public appearance as a conductor. In 1885, his health began to fail. He died during a thunder and lightning storm in Vienna on March 27, 1887.
The works of Beethoven are admired all over the world. They show a rare originality, emotional depth and expressive power. His unique creativity is best reflected in his nine symphonies. His works include some of the most popular violin concertos, an opera, some vocal works and several dramatic overtures. Because his compositions are in the same style of Mozart and Haydn, he is considered to be the last great composer of the Classical tradition and the first of the Romantics.