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Ludwig van Beethoven

Composer

Born: December 1770
Died: 26 March 1827 (cirrhosis of the liver, plus dropsy)
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany
Best known as: The composer of Beethoven's Fifth
Mozart aside, Ludwig van Beethoven is the most famous classical composer of the western world. Beethoven is remembered for his powerful and stormy compositions, and for continuing to compose and conduct even after he began to go deaf at age 28. The ominous four-note beginning to his Fifth Symphony -- bom bom bom bommmmm -- is one of the most famous moments in all of music. (Beethoven supposedly described the notes as "Fate knocking at the door.") He wrote nine numbered symphonies in all: his Third Symphony ("Eroica") and Sixth Symphony ("Pastoral") are especially famous. Beethoven also wrote the popular "Moonlight" sonata (1801).
Extra credit: Beethoven never married. After his death his friends found letters to a lover he called "Immortal Beloved," whose identity has never been discovered. The English phrase "Immortal Beloved" is a translation of the German, "Unsterbliche Geliebte"... Beethoven's precise date of birth is unknown; he was baptized on 17 December 1770, and it is presumed he was born on 16 December.

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