Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany. His father, who was a singer, was his first teacher. After a while, even though he was still only a boy, Ludwig became a traveling performer, and soon, he was supporting his family.
In his early twenties, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he spent the rest of his life. Beethoven was one of the first composers to make a living without being employed by the church or a member of the nobility. At first, he was known as a brilliant pianist. But when he was around 30 years old, Beethoven started going deaf. Even though he could no longer hear well enough to play the piano, Beethoven composed some of his best music after he was deaf!
Beethoven is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived. He may be most famous for his nine symphonies, but he also wrote many other kinds of music: chamber and choral music, piano music and string quartets, and an opera.