Beethoven was born in this house, at 515 Bonngasse,|
Bonn, on 17 December 1770. This pencil drawing was
made in 1889 by R.Beissel, 58 years after the death
of the composer
For someone who was destined to be lionized by the
his time, Beethoven's start in life was inauspicious. He was
Bonn in 1770, the son of an obscure tenor singer in
employ of the Elector of Cologne.
Though the exact date of his birth is not known, it is known that Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770.
It was customary for people to be baptized the day after they were born and indeed it is known that his family celebrated
his birthday on December 16th. There is also some debate in the field centering around the fact that Beethoven told people he was born in 1772 and that it was
his older brother Ludwig Maria was was born in 1770. However, Ludwig Maria is believed to have been baptized in 1769. Some scholars believe that Beethoven's farther
tried to move Beethoven's birth year to 1772 in order make him younger and there more of a musical prodigy. In the end Beethoven most probably born on December 16, 1770.
His father was said to be a
and intemperate man, who returned home late at
night much worse for drink and dragged young Ludwig from his bed
to "beat" music lessons into the boy's sleepy head. There are
stories of his father forcing him to play his violin for the
his drinking cronies. Despite these and other abuses - which
have persuaded as lesser person to loathe the subject - the young
Beethoven developed a sensitivity and vision for music.
When, despite his father's brutal teaching methods, Ludwig
show signs of promise, other teachers were called in. By the age
seven he was advanced enough to appear in public. A year or so
the composer Christian Gottlob Neefe took over his musical
progress thereafter was rapid. Ch. G. Neefe introduced Beethoven
works of Bach and Mozart. Beethoven must have felt immense pride
his Nine Variations for piano in C minor were published, and was
later in a prominent Leipzig catalogue as the work of 'Louis van
Betthoven (sic), aged ten'. (The former is an intentional
In 1787, Beethoven went to Vienna, a noted musical center,
then Count Waldstein engaged Beethoven was piano teacher and
friend and patron. Beethoven must have felt a little out of his
for he was clumsy and stocky; his manners were loutish, his
unruly and he habitually wore an expression of surliness on his
face. It was here that Beethoven met the great Mozart, who was
and sophisticated. He received the boy doubtfully, but once
started playing the piano his talent was evident. "Watch this
Mozart reported. "Some day he will force the world to talk about
The death of Beethoven's mother in the summer of 1787 brought
back to Bonn.