[[caption-width-right:350:[[IncrediblyLamePun Isn't he a]] [[Creator/AndyWarhol colorful]] [[IncrediblyLamePun character]]?]]

->''"Duh duh duh DUH!"''
-->--'''Excerpt from the "Fifth Symphony", which everyone on Earth knows'''

->[[BadassBoast There are many princes and noblemen. There is only one Beethoven.]]

German Composer (c. 17 December 1770 –- 26 March 1827) of ClassicalMusic, generally considered one of the most talented and influential of all time.

Born in UsefulNotes/{{Bonn}} to a family of Flemish origin (that's why it's ''van'' Beethoven, not ''von'', and he's not a nobleman--Dutch "van" is no indication of nobility), he moved to Vienna in the 1790s, at first attracting attention for his virtuoso piano performances. His earlier compositions were accomplished but derivative pieces (on the surface, at least) in the Classical Era style of Music/JosephHaydn and [[Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart Mozart]].

Then he started to [[{{Irony}} go deaf]], and everything changed. He began to compose dramatic, emotional works on a scale far larger than anything most musicians had worked on before. These would eventually lay the foundation for the Romantic Era of music.

Beethoven wrote music in a wide variety of genres, including a single {{opera}}, ''Theatre/{{Fidelio}}''. He is most famous, however, for his symphonies. His ''Fifth Symphony'' is filled with [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome spectacular moments]]. His epic and inspirational ''Ninth Symphony'', first performed in 1824 when Beethoven was almost completely deaf, has become one of the world's most famous musical works, eventually becoming the anthem of UsefulNotes/TheEuropeanUnion. Thanks to PopculturalOsmosis you probably know the "OdeToJoy" from the fourth movement even if you've never heard the rest of the symphony.

Throughout the ninteenth century, Beethoven's works were upheld among even the greatest composers as the impossibly-high standard one should always try to strive to match, even if one could never succeed in doing so. Music/FranzSchubert went into a kind of compositional paralysis after he heard a Beethoven symphony, believing much of his own work was no longer worth pursuing when something ''that'' great was out there. Music/RichardWagner, whose ego was nearly as large as Germany itself and who would never hesitate to tell everyone how great he was, could only bring himself to proclaim that he was the ''successor'' to Beethoven, not Beethoven's equal or better.

Beethoven [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy may have been an alien spy]]. Or possibly [[TimeLord/BeethovenAndOtherAlienSpies a Time Lord]]. Or [[YouWillBeBeethoven maybe even you]]!

!! Tropes present in his work:
* EverythingIsAnInstrument: The overture "Wellington's Victory" calls for groups of muskets and cannons to exchange fire, depicting the battle rather literally.
* HeroWorshipper: The story behind Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 was that he created it with the life of NapoleonBonaparte in mind. The main reason was Beethoven viewed Napoleon as a [[LaResistance rebel hero]] during UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution. When the Frenchman went all AGodAmI and declared himself emperor, Beethoven lost it - he seized the title page of his work and tore it in half before throwing it to the floor - and renamed the symphony "Eroica" instead of "Bonaparte". He re-dedicated it as "[A] Heroic Symphony, written to celebrate the memory of a great man", which might be read as Beethoven declaring that Bonaparte was Dead to him, but when Bonaparte ''actually'' died, Beethoven remarked "I wrote the music for this sad event seventeen years ago", referring to the second movement of the symphony - the Funeral March.
* LetsSeeYOUDoBetter: ''Wellington's Victory'' is typically seen as absolutely horrible, especially by Beethoven's standards. His response to all the criticism was, "What I shit is better than anything you could think up!" He was probably right.
* MusicOfNote: Ask any person on the street to name a great composer; odds are very good that the first name they think of will be "Beethoven." And they'll probably also know that he wrote "Da da da DUM" and the "Ode to Joy" and....
* OutOfGenreExperience: A large set of arrangements of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh folk songs leave some critics scratching their heads, but he took a lot of time and care over them (of course the [[MoneyDearBoy generous commission]] didn't hurt either). In fact, the trope might even be {{inverted}} considering that by the numbers, he wrote more folk song arrangements than any other genre.
* ThePerfectionist: Beethoven's scores and sketches are famously filled with violently scrawled crossings-out and corrections in search of the exact right notes. Naturally, [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome it paid off.]]
* QualityOverQuantity: Unlike his teacher, [[Music/JosephHaydn Haydn]], who wrote more than a hundred symphonies, and the person who he wanted to study under, [[Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart Mozart]], who wrote a few dozen, good ol' Ludwig only wrote a symphony when he was inspired to, and, in effect, only wrote nine. Most musical historians say that his symphonies were also the pinnacle of western music.
* StandardSnippet:
** There is recent recognition that the introduction to Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" falls under this category.
** His Fifth Symphony. During WorldWarTwo, the first measure was an Allied LeitMotif, its four notes matching the MorseCode for "V" (for Victory). And the irony of using Germany's greatest composer against the Germans.
** ''Moonlight Sonata''. The first movement is probably best known to 8-bit-era gamers as "the ''VideoGame/JetSetWilly'' theme".
** Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony is the official anthem of the European Union.
** Für Elise

!! Tropes present in his life:

* ByronicHero
* ChildProdigy: His talent was recognized early in life. Unfortunately, his gift was heavily exploited by his father.
* {{Determinator}}: Even losing his sense of hearing couldn't prevent him from composing.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Commonly believed to have been a victim of child abuse, which could explain the eccentric behavior he maintained for the rest of his life.
* DoingItForTheArt: From his Heiligenstadt Testament: "[[DrivenToSuicide I would have put an end to my life]] - only art it was that withheld me, as it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce."
* DeafComposer: The [[TropeCodifier archetypal example]]. In real life, though, this caused him considerable SenseLossSadness, and although he eventually found that being deaf would not stop him from composing, his conducting and performing did not fare so well.
* DefiantToTheEnd: Legend holds that as he lay dying he shook a fist at a raging thunderstorm.
* GeniusSlob: His house was full of half-eaten food and full chamber pots; his clothes were tattered and his personal hygiene was so poor that he was mistaken for a tramp.
* HandicappedBadass: In a way.
* HotBlooded: According to many accounts, and evident in the nature of much of his music.
* InspirationallyDisadvantaged: When ineptly presented, Beethoven's story can skirt into this territory.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: There are many accounts of Beethoven verbally abusing his friends and accusing of them of cheating him... only to get over it and apologise the next day.
** His temperament was so radical some historians suspect he had bipolar disorder. He once wrote to his friend Johann Hummel, "You are a false dog, and may the hangman do away with all false dogs!" The very next day, he wrote again saying, "You are an honest fellow and I now realize you were right. Kisses from your Beethoven, also called dumpling".
* {{Jerkass}}: Many times he didn't apologise for being a dick.
* MadArtist: Beethoven was one of the most important {{Trope Codifier}}s. Before the Romantic era, musicians and composers were generally regarded as more-or-less brilliant craftspeople, and not so much as inspired but wayward geniuses. Beethoven wasn't the first tortured composer to use music to express his emotions but he was certainly the best-known example, although he averts this trope to the extent that he wasn't actually mad, just somewhat moody at times.
* MoneyDearBoy: Even Beethoven was not above accepting a commission for this reason. The infamous overture "Wellington's Victory" was hardly his greatest work, but it did help pay the bills.
** Unlike [[Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart Mozart]], Beethoven was a shrewd businessman and ''did'' know how to make a profit. At the time in Vienna, a composer had to be an entrepreneur, responsible for all expenses of performing his work. His two performances of the ''Eroica'' symphony made enough money for him to live on for three years.
* PromotionToParent: Beethoven's mother died when he was still in his teens, leaving him to care for his younger siblings, because his father's alcoholism (the man was a wine merchant, which didn't help his habits) hindered his ability to parent.
* {{Pushy Stage Parent}}s: Beethoven's father tried to make him into the next child music star, like Mozart.
* SenseLossSadness: In his [[TearJerker poignant]] "Heiligenstadt Testament," Beethoven describes his feelings of despair as his hearing loss progressively worsened. He reveals that he was nearly DrivenToSuicide, but, fortunately for everyone, he eventually [[HeroicSpirit resolved to keep creating music]] [[{{Determinator}} whether he could hear it or not]].
* SitcomArchNemesis: Music/JosephHaydn, in a case of OlderThanRadio. Haydn took Beethoven on as a pupil but for various reasons they never hit it off, and Beethoven came to suspect that Haydn didn't take him seriously. It got worse when Haydn advised Beethoven not to publish one of his early pieces; Beethoven assumed that Haydn was jealous, but actually Haydn was worried that nobody would like it and that publication would harm Beethoven's career. It didn't, which unfortunately confirmed Beethoven's opinion of Haydn. [[HilarityEnsues With hilarious consequences]].[[note]] They were on friendlier terms in later life, though; Haydn came to admire Beethoven's music, while Beethoven showed up to a concert in honour of Haydn's 76th birthday to pay his respects, and spoke with reverence of the older composer after his death in 1809.[[/note]]

'''Beethoven in popular culture'''
* ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'': Schroeder is a massive LoonyFan of the composer. Generations of children grew up reading ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' strips in which character Schroeder was an obsessive LoonyFan of Beethoven, originally as a means for cartoonist Charles Schulz to parody one of the first children's fads, the cult of UsefulNotes/DavyCrockett merchandise in the 1950s. According to the Beethoven Exhibit at the Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, Schulz liked Mozart more, but decided that "Beethoven" was [[{{Rule Of Funny}}inherently funnier]] as a name.
* ''Literature/AClockworkOrange'': In the novel, as well as the film version, Alex adores the music of Beethoven as one of his few passions other than rape and violence. The film version, ''Film/AClockworkOrange'', uses music from the Ninth Symphony on the soundtrack, which causes SoundtrackDissonance due to it actually being composed as an ode to peace.
* A bust of Beethoven can be seen on the album cover of Music/FrankZappa's ''Music/WereOnlyInItForTheMoney''. Actually Zappa wanted a bust of his real hero Music/EdgardVarese, but since they couldn't find any he settled on one of Beethoven instead.
* Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" inspired Music/TheBeatles song "Because" on ''Music/AbbeyRoad'', which supposedly has the "Moonlight Sonata" played backwards on the soundtrack.
* Beethoven's ''Pastorale'' in used in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' and his Fifth Symphony at the start of ''Disney/{{Fantasia}} 2000''.
* His life story is shown in the {{Biopic}} ''Film/ImmortalBeloved''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TimeSquad'' visits him in a wrong timeline where he became a wrestler and has to be persuaded to become a composer again.
* WebVideo/EpicRapBattlesOfHistory: Once battled against Music/JustinBieber.
* Music/{{Sparks}} released a ConceptAlbum called ''Music/LilBeethoven'' in 2002. It told the story of how the titular character - a Reclusive Artist and the present day descendent of composer Ludwig van Beethoven - had been approached by the brothers to work on new material with them, the nine songs bearing the fruits of this supposed collaboration.
* Music/TransSiberianOrchestra released a RockOpera named ''Music/BeethovensLastNight'' about his work.
* Despite his name, he does not feature in ''WesternAnimation/BeethovenTheAnimatedSeries''.
* Has nothing to do with [[Film/{{Beethoven}} a Sint Bernard in the movie series that bears his name]].
* He is mentioned as being dead in the song "Decomposing Composers" by Creator/MichaelPalin sang on Creator/MontyPython's ''Audioplay/MontyPythonsContractualObligationAlbum''.