|Ludwig van Beethoven
Personal Life and Background
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770. Beethoven’s childhood can be characterized as a bad one, as his father was an alcoholic and while “teaching” his son to play the piano, would routinely hit, slap, and push the young boy. Several times, he was even locked in the home’s basement because he had not played a piece correctly. Beethoven’s father wanted him to become the next Mozart, traveling through Europe playing concerts (and probably making his father money in the process
In 1778, Beethoven made a trip to Vienna, perhaps to meet and learn from Mozart, although it is not certain whether or not they actually met, it is said that Beethoven played for Mozart once. After two weeks there, his mother became ill, his father lapsed deeper into alcoholism, and Beethoven was responsible for taking care of his two younger brothers. He would spend the next five years in Bonn.
Around 1796, at age 26, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He suffered from a severe “ringing” in his ears, initially, which made it difficult to hear music and he often avoided conversation. Beethoven’s declining hearing affected him negatively, even causing him to suffer from suicidal thoughts. However, he continued to play and composer music, even once he became almost completely deaf
In 1813, as his hearing was, by then, fully gone, he had a difficult time, emotionally, and his compositions dropped considerably. His personal appearance also became disheveled and “messy”, as did his manners in public. He became cranky, often rude, and he became difficult to work with.
Due to illness, Beethoven was bedridden most of his remaining month, and died in 1827, during a thunderstorm. It was later discovered that Beethoven had severe liver damage (probably due to heavy alcohol use) and lead poisoning, which might explain his behavior early in life.