Chronology of Beethoven’s life

Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most celebrated composers in the history of classical music, left an indelible mark on the world through his extraordinary compositions and a life filled with triumphs and tribulations. From the moment he entered this world in December 1770, to his last notes composed amidst deafness and turmoil, Beethoven’s journey is nothing short of a captivating chronicle. In this article, we embark on a journey through time, exploring the intricate tapestry of Beethoven’s life. We will unravel the pivotal moments, artistic evolution, and personal challenges that shaped the genius behind timeless masterpieces like the Ninth Symphony and the Moonlight Sonata. Join us as we delve deep into the chronology of Beethoven’s life, discovering the man behind the music and the enduring legacy he left behind.

1770 When was Beethoven born? December 16th uncertain in Bonn, Germany
December 17th: Baptized at Bonn

April 8th: Baptism of his brother Caspar Anton Carl
Ludwig learns music with his father


October 2nd: Baptism of his brother Nikolaus Johann


March 26th: Ludwig’s first known public performance, at Cologne

1779 February 23rd: Baptism of his sister Anna Maria Franziska (died four days later)
October: Neefe pursues Ludwig’s musical training
1781 January 17th: Baptism of his brother Franz Georg (died two years later)
1782 Publication of first work in Beethoven life known as the Dressler Variations
1783 October 14th: Publication of three sonatas and other works

June: Ludwig is appointed organist to the Choir of Maximilian Franz. He is 14 year old.

1786 May 5th: Baptism of his sister Maria Margaretha (died one year later)

Visited Vienna, studied with Mozart
July 17th: death of his mother


Played for four seasons as violinist at the Opera of Bonn
Numerous Beethoven compositions

1791 December 5th: Death of Mozart
1792 November 2nd: Left for Vienna
November 10th: Arrived at Vienna
Musical studies with Haydn
December 18th: Death of his father
1794 May: His brother Carl arrives at Vienna
January 19th: Haydn returns to London. Ludwig studies with Albrechtsberger
Composition of his first major work: Trios for Piano (opus 1)

March 29th: First public appearance at Vienna; he played his own works
July: Finished his studies with Albrechtsberger
August: Trios for Piano (opus 1) published
September: Haydn returns to Vienna and meets Ludwig
December 26th: His brother Johann arrives in Vienna
Proposes to Magdalena Willmann, but she refuses him


Numerous Beethoven compositions and a concert given at Prague
July: Returns to Vienna after Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin before leaving for a concert in Budapest

1797 Probably the year of a serious illness, which triggered his deafness

Composition and publication of works

1799 Instruction by Salieri
Began composing the first symphony

Concert at Vienna, playing of his first symphony
End of the year: Composition of his second symphony


February: Finished his second symphony
April: left for Heiligenstadt in the hope that his hearing would improve.
Returned to Vienna in October

1803 January: Ludwig became the composer of the Theatre of Vienna, where he lived with his brother Carl
June-October: Composed the Eroica symphony
August 6th: The piano maker Sébastien Erard sent him a new piano, as a present. This allowed for bigger intervals – like the pianos we have today.
1804 April: His contract with the theatre finishes

April 7th: First public performance of the Eroica symphony
Numerous workings on Leonore, with a premiere on November 20

1806 May 25th: Marriage of his brother Caspar Carl
Journey with the Prince Lichnowsky, and composition of the fourth symphony
1807 Composition of the Coriolan Overture
March: First performance of the fourth symphony
Autumn: Composition of the fifth symphony

Spring-Summer: Composition of the sixth symphony – The Pastoral
December: Playing of the sixth symphony

1809 April 9th: War is declared against France
May 10th: French army surrounds Vienna
May 11th-12th: France takes possession of Vienna
Beethoven teaches music to Archduke Rudolphe
1810 April 27th: Beethoven presents ‘The Letter for Elise’ to Thérèse Malfatti
1811 October: Beethoven begins writing the seventh symphony

March 2nd: Presentation of ‘To the Beloved’ to Antonie Brentano
May: Writing of the seventh symphony
Writing of the letter to “The Immortal Beloved”…

1813 December 8th: First public presentation of the eighth symphony
1814 February 27th: Playing of the eighth symphony
May 23rd: First presentation of Fidelio
1815 November 15th: Ludwig’s brother, Carl, dies. After several court cases, Ludwig is given guardianship of his nephew.
1816 October: Beethoven becomes ill
Beginning of the year: Beethoven is still ill
September 10th: Writing of the first bars of the ninth symphony
1818 February 14th: Beethoven and Salieri recommend the metronome in the Viennese press.
February: Beethoven’s deafness is such that he has to use a notebook and pencil to converse with visitors.
December 3rd: Karl runs away to his mother’s home, but Beethoven demands that the police bring him back.
1819 January 11th: The guardianship of Karl is taken away from Beethoven on grounds of his deafness.
November: Composition of ‘Missa Solemnis’
1820 April 8th: Beethoven becomes Karl’s tutor again, with Karl Peters.
1821 January and the following months: Beethoven becomes regularly ill
1822 October: Pursues the composition of the ninth symphony and the beginnings of the tenth
1823 March 6th: Beethoven names Karl as his heir
Works on the ninth symphony
1824 Works on the tenth symphony (only the first movement was written in detail)
February: Finished writing the ninth symphony
May 7th: Public playing of the ninth symphony
1825 May 7th-October 15th: Beethoven installs himself at Baden
1826 August 6th: Karl attempts suicide by shooting himself in the head. He’s only injured.
December: Beethoven’s health starts to decline. He undergoes an operation.

He undergoes three further operations in the first two months of the year…

Frequently Asked Questions About the Chronology of Beethoven's life

Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16 or 17, 1770 (the exact date is debated) in Bonn, which was then part of the Holy Roman Empire and is now located in Germany. He was baptized on December 17, making that date more commonly associated with his birth. Beethoven’s birthplace, a house in Bonn, has been preserved as a museum dedicated to his life and work. This historic city on the banks of the Rhine River played a significant role in his early musical education.

Beethoven’s birth marked the beginning of a life that would be immersed in music, eventually leading him to become one of the most influential composers of all time. His early exposure to music in Bonn laid the foundation for his remarkable career, which would see him create groundbreaking compositions and revolutionize classical music.

Beethoven’s formative years were marked by his growing passion for music and his early musical education. His father, Johann van Beethoven, recognized his talent and began teaching him the piano and violin at a young age. Beethoven’s natural abilities soon became evident, and he started composing music at the age of 12.

In his late teens, Beethoven embarked on a journey to Vienna, the musical capital of Europe, in 1787. This move was significant as it allowed him to study under the guidance of prominent composers such as Joseph Haydn and gain exposure to the thriving musical scene in Vienna. Vienna would become Beethoven’s home for most of his life, and it was here that he honed his skills, developed his unique style, and composed some of his most iconic works.

Beethoven’s early compositions reflect his growth as a composer during his formative years in Bonn and Vienna. Some of his notable early works include piano sonatas, string quartets, and symphonies. His “Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor” composed in 1795 is an example of his early mastery of the piano. This period also saw the composition of his first symphony, “Symphony No. 1 in C Major,” which showcased his talent for orchestration.

Beethoven’s compositions from this time already displayed elements of innovation and originality, setting him apart from his contemporaries. These early works laid the groundwork for the revolutionary compositions he would produce in the years to come.

Beethoven’s struggle with hearing problems began in his late twenties, and it would become a defining challenge in his life. Around 1798, he started noticing symptoms of hearing loss, including tinnitus and difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. This condition gradually worsened over the years, leading to profound deafness.

Beethoven’s hearing impairment posed a tremendous obstacle for a composer and musician, but his determination and passion for music kept him from abandoning his craft. He continued to compose and perform, relying on the vibrations he could feel through his piano and by using conversation books to communicate with others.

Beethoven’s life and career are often divided into three main periods: the Early Period, the Middle Period, and the Late Period. The Middle Period, also known as the “Heroic Period,” encompasses the years roughly from 1803 to 1814. During this time, Beethoven’s compositions took on a more revolutionary and emotionally intense character.

Some of the key compositions from Beethoven’s Middle Period include the iconic “Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major,” also known as the “Eroica Symphony,” which was initially dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte before Beethoven withdrew the dedication due to political reasons. Other notable works from this period include the “Symphony No. 5 in C minor,” the “Emperor Concerto” (Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major), and the “Appassionata” Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor). These compositions marked a significant departure from classical conventions, showcasing Beethoven’s innovative spirit and emotional depth.