Ludwig van Beethoven is remembered as more than a composer; his is one of the notable cultural names in the western world. Of all composers, Beethoven is the one that is elevated to such a heroic status by posterity. His music had a profound influence on later music and his popularity continues unwaveringly in the present day.
Beethoven was born into a family that had consisted of musicians for three generations. He was one of three brothers to survive into adulthood. The family lived in reasonable financial circumstances until the mid-1780s, however young Beethoven’s formal education ended after elementary school, as was customary at the time for many middle class children, a fact which accounts for his lack of care in handwriting, spelling, punctuation and his inability to carry out simple sums.
He became an assistant to his first important keyboard teacher, court musician Christian Gottlob Neefe, at the tender age of 11, from which he grew a considerable reputation as a young prodigy. The first ever printed evidence of Beethoven’s existence as a musician was in the Magazin der Muzik dated 2 March 1783 in which he is declared as 'a boy of 11 years and of most promising talent…. He would surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart if he were to continue as he has begun.' Neefe was a very enthusiastic mentor for Beethoven. Working as his assistant (as ‘cembalist in the orchestra’) not only gave Beethoven responsibility and exposure, but it also allowed him to regularly listen to the most popular operas of the day.