Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. He was a crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in classical music and is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.
Beethoven was born in Bonn, the capital of the Electorate of Cologne, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His musical talent was obvious at an early age, and he was harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven, who thought this would enable him to become a child prodigy like Mozart. He was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At age 21, he moved to Vienna and studied composition with Joseph Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist, and he was soon courted by Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky for compositions, which resulted in Opus 1 in 1795.
The piece was a great critical and commercial success and was followed by Symphony No. 1 in 1800. This composition was distinguished by its frequent use of sforzandi, sudden shifts in tonal centers (which were uncommon for traditional symphonic form), and the prominent, more independent use of wind instruments. In 1801, he also gained fame for his six String Quartets and for the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his third and fifth symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His condition worsened to almost complete deafness by 1811, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public.
During this period of self-exile, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works; his seventh symphony premiered in 1813, with its second movement, Allegretto, achieving widespread critical acclaim. He composed his Missa Solemnis for a number of years before it premiered prior to his ninth symphony in 1824, with the latter gaining fame for being among the first examples of a choral symphony. In 1826, his fourteenth String Quartet was noted not only for its seven linked movements played without a break and is considered the final major piece performed before his death a year later.
His career is conventionally divided into early, middle, and late periods; the "early" period is typically seen to last until 1802, the "middle" period from 1802 to 1812, and the "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827. During his life, he composed nine symphonies, five piano concertos, one violin concerto, thirty-two piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, two masses, and the opera Fidelio. Other works, like Für Elise, were discovered after his death and are also considered historic musical achievements. Beethoven's legacy is characterized by his innovative compositions, including innovative combinations of vocals and instruments, and also by widening the scope of the sonata, symphony, concerto, and quartet, while he is also noted for his troublesome relationship with his contemporaries.