Download a free copy of the Last Testament of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the document known as the Heiligenstadt Testament. This document was translated into English from the original German.
Beethoven was a German composer and pianist considered to be the most crucial figure in the transition period between the Classical and Romantic eras of Western classical music. He remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.
In 1792 Beethoven settled in Vienna to study with Joseph Haydn, and he quickly gained a reputation as a virtuoso. Beethoven had planned to study with Mozart, but Mozart had died the year before. By 1802, Beethoven had written 32 piano sonatas, 2 symphonies, 18 string quartets, and 3 piano concertos. Sadly though, it is around this time that his hearing began to deteriorate significantly.
He continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf. His 9th Symphony, his final 7 piano sonatas and a set of string quartets were completed after he had lost his hearing.
Although his personal life was troubled and he never married, he became the world's most renowned composer. He suffered from ill health for almost 20 years before his death, which led him to contemplate suicide. There are several theories as to what caused his death, but the most likely cause seems to be lead poisoning from treatments suggested by his doctor. His funeral was said to have been attended by more than 10,000 people.
Last Updated: 14-April-2016