Although he wrote some of the greatest musical pieces ever, Beethoven had to
overcome some great obstacles in his life.
He was born on December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany. He showed an inclination towards music at a young age and started to take violin and organ lessons. Because he was so talented, he had many friends who helped send him to Vienna, to continue his studies after his mother died. While in Vienna, he met Mozart, who was amazed at his piano playing and said that one day the world would take notice of him. Several years later, he studied with Haydn, who taught him the rules about composing. As soon as he learned the rules, he wanted to change them. This turned out to be true as he wrote and performed music that changed the world.
People were so enamored by his musical abilities and improvisation skills, that rich patrons would invite him into their homes to play for them. It was customary during this time for men to wear wigs out in public, but he refused. This attitude made him a rebel, but also much admired. During this time most musicians were employed by a nobleman or church and were treated like servants. He refused to be treated this way. He would work temporarily for whoever paid him, and then move on to the next job. He was essentially freelance.
Most composer were told to write music when their employers wanted it, and then the piece would only be performed once or twice. He did not accept those terms. He wrote when he wanted and expected the piece to be played many times.
He had no children, but spent a lot of time in court trying to become the legal guardian of his nephew. Also, he was going deaf. He began to lose his hearing in his early 30's, and even though he could no longer perform, he continued to compose. Even though he could not hear the music well, he was able to feel the notes as he wrote them. In fact, many of his greatest works were written during this time.