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Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist, famous for his incredibly wide array of pieces and for his remarkable role in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic periods of music.

Beethoven was born December 16, 1770 in Cologne. His first piano instructor is generally agreed to have been his father. In his early 20s, he moved to Vienna and studied music and performance under Joseph Haydn, a prominent composer. After Haydn returned to England, Beethoven remained in Vienna, receiving financial support from wealthy donors who recognized his talents. Beethoven gave his first performance in 1795, and just a year later, is reported to have began losing his hearing.

Beethoven's life thereafter included prolific composing. Historians and forensic scientists now believe that an unusually high amount of lead in his body, as detected in hair samples, may have led to his violent rages and emotional swings. Around 1802, he entered his "Middle Period" of composing, and his Eroica published in 1802 marked the first piece that established Beethoven as a prominent composer.

In his "Late Period," Beethoven suffered from numerous personal crises, including unsuccessful attempts at relationships and a failed custody battle for a nephew. He eventually succumbed to his lead-related illnesses and died March 26, 1827. Originally buried in western Vienna, his remained were relocated to the Zentralfriedhof cemetery in 1888, where he lies today. 
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