1. WHILE THERE IS NO AUTHENTIC RECORD OF BEETHOVEN’S BIRTH DATE, there is a record of his baptism on December 17, 1770. Babies were baptized the day after birth in the Catholic tradition in Bonn. Hence, most scholars agree that December 16, 1770, is Beethoven’s date of birth.
2. BEETHOVEN WAS BORN IN BONN, GERMANY, the same birthplace as candy company Haribo.
3. BEETHOVEN WAS KNOWN FOR HIS IMPROVISING ON THE PIANO. By 1793, he was 22 and had established an impressive reputation as a piano virtuoso in salons.
4. BEETHOVEN’S COMPOSITIONAL WORKS CAN BE ROUGHLY DIVIDED INTO THREE PERIODS OF HIS LIFE, tracking the evolution of his skill: Early (c. 1794–1800), Middle (c. 1801–14), and Late (c. 1814–27).
5. KNOWN FOR HIS DISDAIN OF AUTHORITY, BEETHOVEN WAS DEMANDING, MADE ENEMIES OF ARISTOCRATS, AND SOMETIMES CHASTISED AUDIENCES. People criticized Beethoven’s personality and manners.
6. AT THE PREMIERE OF HIS SYMPHONY NO. 9 IN VIENNA IN MAY 1824, BEETHOVEN WAS COMPLETELY DEAF AND CONDUCTED THE PIECE. The musicians were instructed to keep their eyes on Beethoven but to pay no attention to him. The real conductor sat to the side, keeping the correct time.
7. THREE DAYS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL IN 1989, LEONARD BERNSTEIN CONDUCTED BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONY NO. 9 WITH MUSICIANS FROM THE EAST AND WEST. To further honor the event, Bernstein changed the word “Freude” (Joy) to “Freiheit” (Freedom) in the choral finale Ode to Joy.
8. BEETHOVEN LEFT SCHOOL AT AGE 11 TO STUDY MUSIC FULL TIME. As a result, he lacked basic math or spelling skills for his entire life.
9. HIS GRANDFATHER WAS THE MOST PROMINENT MUSICIAN IN BONN AND BEETHOVEN’S NAMESAKE.
10. BEETHOVEN COMPLETED FUR ELISE IN 1810, BUT IT WASN’T PUBLISHED UNTIL 40 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH. The original manuscript was discovered and published by German music scholar Ludwig Nohl and has since been lost.
11. ADOPTED IN 1985, THE INSTRUMENTAL VERSION OF ODE TO JOY IS NOW THE NATIONAL ANTHEM FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, his last and most famous, was chosen by the eu because it conveys the “European ideals of freedom, peace, and solidarity.”
12. BEETHOVEN IS CONSIDERED THE WORLD’S FIRST ROCK STAR. With more attention and popularity than any other musician before him, some argue that his success paved the way for how we view artists as celebrities today.