Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna and began studying with Joseph Haydn, quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his 30s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven is acknowledged as one of the giants of classical music; he is occasionally referred to as one of the “three Bs” who epitomize that tradition. He was also a pivotal figure in the transition from the 18th century musical classicism to 19th century romanticism, and his influence on subsequent generations of composers was profound. His music features twice on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.

Beethoven composed in several musical genres and for a variety of instrument combinations. His works for symphony orchestra include nine symphonies, and about a dozen pieces of “occasional” music. He wrote seven concerti for one or more soloists and orchestra, as well as four shorter works that include soloists accompanied by orchestra. His only opera is Fidelio; other vocal works with orchestral accompaniment include two masses and a number of shorter works.

His large body of compositions for piano includes 32 piano sonatas and numerous shorter pieces, including arrangements of some of his other works. Works with piano accompaniment include 10 violin sonatas, 5 cello sonatas, and a sonata for French horn, as well as numerous lieder. Beethoven also wrote a significant quantity of chamber music. In addition to 16 string quartets, he wrote five works for string quintet, seven for piano trio, five for string trio, and more than a dozen works for various combinations of wind instruments. If you want to listen to Beethoven’s symphonies, you can listen to them online. There are a lot of websites that caters to free listening of classical music. Some of these websites may require you to sign up to their websites but if you want all your visits to be unidentified you can buy private proxies to help you out.