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Ludwig van Beethoven, Born December 16, 1770, was a German composer and virtuoso pianist. He was a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most respected and influential composers of all time. Born in Bonn, then in the Electorate of Cologne (now in modern-day Germany), he moved to Vienna, Austria, in his early twenties and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. Beethoven's hearing gradually deteriorated beginning in his twenties, yet he continued to compose masterpieces, and to conduct and perform, even after he was completely deaf.