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Ludwig van Beethoven: 10 quotes for his birthday

Ludwig van Beethoven was likely born on December 17, 1770. Beethoven's father, Johann, quickly realized that his son was a musical prodigy. Beethoven learned music from an early age, giving his first public performance at the age of seven. Known for his iconoclastic musical style and his short temper, Beethoven was soon considered a great pianist and the most important composer of his generation. He began to lose his hearing at the age of 26, and contemplated suicide for a while while attempting to come to terms with the idea of being a deaf musician. Fortunately, he pushed through, composing some of his greatest works without being able to hear a single note. After the finale of his Symphony No. 9, he had to be turned around to see the massive standing ovation from the shouting audience. His works pushed the boundaries of what music was capable of, calling for more powerful orchestras and more skilled musicians. Beethoven also threw off the shackles of the upper-class nobility that had controlled Western classical music for centuries, challenging the status quo and forever helping to establish music as a force for political and social change. Here, for his birthday, are 10 profound, temperamental, and epic quotes from one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time.

In this undated photo provided by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin.
AP Photo/Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
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1. Music

"I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy."

– from a letter to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (May 28, 1810)

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