Ludwig van Beethoven is perhaps the most famous and celebrated classical composer of all time (the New York Times puts him second, behind Bach). But Beethoven's grim life was depressing, lonely, and difficult. That he went deaf, surely an impediment to a musician and composer, was but one of the many physical and emotional challenges he faced in his relatively brief life (though he looks old as hell in portraits, he died at 56).
Beethoven's musical immortality and body of work is even more remarkable in light of his family life and romantic disappointments. The man the New Yorker called "a singularity in the history of art—a phenomenon of dazzling and disconcerting force" faced almost relentless hardship in his personal life; there are many depressing facts about Beethoven, anchored by sobering stories about Beethoven.
Here are some harrowing highlights from the composer's life, including grim Beethoven stories concerning the triumph and tragedy of one of mankind's most phenomenal talents.
His Alcoholic Father Abused And Berated Him In An Attempt To Make Him The Next MozartPhoto: Artist Unknown / Public Domain
His Tutor, Tobias Pfeiffer, Was A Weirdo Who Made Him Practice In The Middle Of The Night
He Was Dyslexic, Never Learned To Multiply Or Divide, And Had Difficulty With Music TheoryPhoto: Artist Unknown / Public Domain
His Father's Alcoholism Forced Beethoven To Support Himself In His Early TeensPhoto: Christian Horneman / Public Domain
His Mistrust Of Father Figures Ruined His Relationship With Mentor HaydnPhoto: Joseph Neesen / Public Domain
He Was A Slob, Dressed Poorly, And Was Difficult Very To Get Along WithPhoto: Carl Schloesser / Public Domain