The tempestuous, deeply felt music of Ludwig van Beethoven was often considered obscene by his contemporaries -- a testament to the intense passions roused by true genius. Now A&E's renowned Biography series offers a glimpse into both the historical context and the personal tragedies -- abuse, heartbreak, violent temperament, and a slow descent into deafness -- from which, paradoxically, arose his transcendent and immortal music. Tracing the life of Beethoven from his career as a child performer, to his rising notoriety as a composer and social provocateur, through his collapse under the weight of madness and despair, celebrated musicians Isaac Stern and Kurt Masur serve as guides to this enigmatic and fascinating life.
Ludwig von Beethoven made some of the most powerful and inspiring music ever created. His nine symphonies and countless smaller works made him a giant star in his day - the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But the pressures of fame also made this temperamental and fragile soul go through extreme anguish and raging self doubts. For Beethoven's personality was as intense unwieldy and extreme as his music. He was filled with contradictions. For example though he grew to be incredibly rich he dressed like a pauper and scorned the delicate social mores of his aristocratic patrons; though supportive of populist anti-aristocratic causes he spent a good part of his fortune in court in a failed attempt to prove he had a noble heritage. And most tragic of all the man who gave the world such powerful music became totally deaf by the time he was 40. A gloomy failure in romance erratic and bombastic with his patrons and fans often isolated and lonely Beethoven's personality is as complex as his creative output was profound.