Ludwig van Beethoven is perhaps the best known classical composer of all time, and his compositions have been a continuous part of the musical canon since his lifetime. Born in Bonn in 1770, Beethoven was talented from a young age, and was initially taught by his father, later studying with the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying with Haydn. It was around this time that he completed his first compositions to be given an opus number.

Beethoven became known in Vienna as a virtuoso pianist, and initially made his living mostly through performing. However, from around 1801 his hearing began to deteriorate, and by 1814 he was almost completely deaf; he gave up performing in public around this time. After 1810 he became more and more of a recluse, though despite his deafness he managed to compose many of his most admired works in this time. He died in 1827 after months of bedridden illness.

Double Bass