Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) - German composer and pianist considered by many to be the greatest in history (with Mozart up there as well).  He composed five piano concertos, 32 sonatas, 16 string quartets and nine symphonies, including his Fifth, which has the most recognizable introduction in classical music, and his famed Ninth, which many consider the greatest piece of classical music ever (or music in general).  Although considered a classical composer, Beethoven lived at a time of transition in music, from the Classical Period to what is called the Romantic Period; with Beethoven himself being key transitional figure.  He came from a family of musicians.  His grandfather, Lodewijk, was a musician and his father, Johann, was his mentor.  Like Mozart, he was a prodigy, displaying considerable talent by the age of five, and performing publicly at seven.  In fact, he met Mozart once when he was 17, and had intended to study under the master; but, of course, Mozart died shortly after.  In addition to his music, Beethoven is also famous for losing his hearing starting at the age of 30.  Within a decade he was almost completely deaf.  As a result, he withdrew from public life, but continued to write music.  Also known for initially being a supporter and admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte.  His Symphony No.3, Eroica ("heroic" in Italian), was dedicated to Bonaparte.  However, he quickly turned on him after Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804; and thereafter refused to ever perform his Third Symphony again.