Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16

December 16, 1770, is the accepted birthdate of German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven. Born in Bonn, he moved to Vienna in 1792 to study with Joseph Haydn (the father of the symphony and string quartet), where he became known as a virtuoso pianist. His first public performance in 1795 was one of his first two piano concertos. The following year, at age 26, he began losing his hearing, suffering from severe tinnitus that made it hard for him to hear music; he also avoided conversation. The cause of his deafness has been variously attributed to typhus, auto-immune disorders and his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake. When he died in 1827 an autopsy showed a "distended inner ear" that had suffered lesions over time. In his later years Beethoven and his friends communicated via 400 conversation books, more than half of which were later destroyed.

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