Born in Germany, he spent most of his life in Vienna, where he quickly won fame - first as a remarkable pianist and then as a great composer. He composed slowly and with effort. Revered by his contemporaries, he was also criticized for the obscurity, eccentricity and violence of his music.
He broke through the conventions
of his time to establish his own powerful individuality, and enlarged the
boundaries of the symphony, sonata, quartet and concerto. Although
he was unsuccessful in love as he was as guardian to a much-loved nephew
and, after the onset of deafness in 1801, became increasingly solitary
and unhappy, he showed the same largeness of vision and generosity of spirit
in life as in his music.
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