For someone who was destined to be famous, Beethoven's start in life was horrible. Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 17,1770 in Bonn, Germany, the son of an unpopular tenor singer in the employ of the Elector of Cologne. His father was said to be a violent and intemperate man, who returned home late at night drunk tobeat? music lessons into the young Beethoven's head. There are also stories of his father forcing him to play his violin for amusement of his drinking friends. Despite these and other abuses, the young Beethoven developed an interest in music.
Despite Beethoven's father's brutal teaching methods Ludwig began to show signs of determination, other teachers were called in. By the age of seven he was advanced enough to appear in public. A year or so later the composer Christian Gottlob Neefe took over his musical training and progress, from then on Beethoven's abilities improved greatly. Ch. G. Neefe introduced Beethoven to the works of Bach and Mozart. In 1787, Beethoven went to Vienna, a noted musical center, where then Count Waldstein engaged Beethoven. Waldstein was a piano teacher and became his friend and patron. It was here that Beethoven met the great Mozart. He received the boy doubtfully, but once Beethoven started playing the piano his talent was evident. .
About 1800, he discovered that he was slowly becoming deaf. It wasn't surprising that many people thought that Beethoven and his career were over. Beethoven, too, at times was close to total despair. After short time he withdrew from most of the social contacts. Once he even tried to commit suicide. However, he overcame his feelings and fears and continued to compose music. By 1820, when he was almost totally deaf, Beethoven composed his greatest works. These include the last five piano sonatas, the Missa solemnis, the Ninth Symphony, with its choral finale, and the last five string quartets. In the fall of 1826 Beethoven caught a serious cold, which developed into pneumonia.