By the age of 5, Beethoven was playing the violin under the tutelage of his
father--also an accomplished musician. By the time he was 13, Beethoven was a concert
organist. In his 20s he was already studying under the very watchful eyes of Haydn and
Mozart. In fact, Mozart spoke prophetic words when he declared that Beethoven would give
the world something worth listening to by the time his life ended. As Beethoven began to
develop his skills, he became a prolific composer. During his lifetime, he wrote nine
majestic symphonies and five concertos for piano, not to mention numerous pieces of
chamber music. Ludwig van Beethoven also wrote sonatas and pieces for violin and piano. He
has thrilled us with the masterful works of unique harmony that broke with the traditions
of his times. The man was a genius.
Beethoven was not, however, a stranger to
difficulties. During his twenties, he began to lose his hearing. His fingers "became
thick," he said on one occasion. He couldn't feel the music as he once had. His
hearing problem haunted him in the middle years of his life, but he kept it a well-guarded
secret. When he reached his fifties, Beethoven was stone deaf. Three years later he made a
tragic attempt to conduct an orchestra and failed miserably. Approximately five years
later, he died during a fierce thunder storm. He was deaf, yet a magnificent musician. On
one occasion, Beethoven was overheard shouting at the top of his voice as he slammed both
fists on the keyboard, "I will take life by the throat!"
C. Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, pp. 190-191.