Although we celebrate Beethoven’s birthday on December 17, there is no actual record of his birth. It is speculated that he may have been born up to two days before this.
Beethoven studied under Joseph Haydn in his early 20’s, however the two were frequently frustrated with each other's company, ultimately resulting in neither liking the other much.
It is rumored that Beethoven was sent to Vienna in 1787 to meet Mozart. Although this information was never confirmed, a quote from Mozart surfaced in which he talked about the talent of Beethoven, stating: “don’t forget his name – you will hear it spoken often!”
When the CD was being developed, Karajan stated that it should be possible for a person to be able to listen to the entirety of Beethoven’s 9th symphony on one CD. A typical performance of the symphony lasts approximately 70 minutes and it is said that this was partially the reason why 74 minutes of audio could fit on the first CDs.
It is rumored that Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’ was in fact mistitled and instead should have read ‘Für Therese’, for Therese Malfatti, an apparent lover of Beethoven’s. There is no record of any ‘Elise’ in Beethoven’s life.
Beethoven was a coffee fanatic and would famously count out exactly 60 coffee beans by hand for each cup he drank.
A recording of the first movement from Beethoven’s fifth symphony is currently “lost in space”, it was sent up as a message for other civilizations, alongside this movement is also his String Quartet no.13 in B flat major, op.130 (including the Grosse Fuge in B flat major, op.133).
At the premiere of Beethoven’s 9th symphony, Beethoven himself was seated on stage to direct tempo. After the piece had finished, it is said that since he was seated facing the musicians he could not hear the monstrous applause or see the standing ovation. He assumed that the piece had been a failure, until a vocalist on stage averted Beethoven’s attention to the eruption of the audience behind him.
After Beethoven lost his hearing, he took a little book around with him to social events. He would use this book to communicate with others and called it his ‘Conversation Book’. We have learnt an immense amount about Beethoven’s life through these records.
The European Union uses ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven's 9th symphony as their national anthem.