Before writing a composition, Beethoven would put his head in a bowl of cold water.

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Beethoven was the first-ever full-time composer. The broadening market for published music enabled him to succeed as a freelance composer, a path that Mozart a decade earlier had found full of frustration.

Typically, he would get up at dawn and promptly start composing until dinner at 2 pm. Beethoven liked to work for long stretches without a break to let his thoughts develop and flow.

1778 Introduced as a prodigy. Became a court organist before he was 12.

1789 Due to his father's alcoholism, he began to support his family as a court musician.

1791 Went to Vienna to study under Haydn and became a freelance composer. He later claimed "he had never learned anything from Haydn."

1795 First public performance in Vienna.

Beethoven suffered from jaundice, but his main affliction is deafness. Originally in his late twenties, it was an occasional loss of hearing, which developed into a constant ringing in his ears. Signs of his growing lack of sense of hearing threw him into a dire depression and made him contemplate suicide. In 1802, in Beethoven's celebrated Heiligenstadt Testament, a quasi-legal letter to his two brothers, he expressed his agony over his growing loss of hearing. His deafness was rendered more severe by cold baths, blister treatments, and sharp ear trumpets strapped to his head. By 1814 however, Beethoven was almost totally deaf with a constant ringing in his ears. For the last ten years of his life, he could only communicate with guests by means of conversation books in which visitors write their remarks to him. Despite being aurally disadvantaged many of his greatest works were written in his last 10 years when he was completely deaf. (You'd have thought a deaf composer would have been as much use as a steeplejack with vertigo). He was aided by placing a sticker on the top of his piano and biting on it, which helped him to "hear" a little.

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