5 things you might have in common with Beethoven

5 things you might have in common with Beethoven.Brooke Knoll

December 15, 2020

Dec. 16, 2020, marks the 250th birthday of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who is believed to have been born in December 1770. While he is known for being one of the "Three B's" of Western classical composers and a household name, there were many parts of his life that were extraordinarily ordinary.

Even though you might not be a composing legend or a piano prodigy, here are five things you might have in common with Beethoven.

He was an older brother

Beethoven had two younger brothers that survived to adulthood: Nikolaus Johann and Caspar Carl (who both went by their middle names.) They all ended up living in Vienna at the same time, with Carl working part-time as Ludwig's agent and secretary, and Johann avoiding the music industry entirely, working at an apothecary. Like all siblings, they had their quarrels and disagreements, but they ultimately remained close throughout their lives.

He was bad at math

Beethoven left school at 11 to help with household income and never completed his formal education. According to Jan Swafford's biography, he never learned how to divide or multiply.

He was a hopeless romantic

The composer had many love interests in his life, some of whom inspired his music. Fur Elise is suspected to be written for Elisabeth Rockel, who even visited the composer on his deathbed, and Moonlight Sonata is dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. A love letter, dubbed Immortal Beloved was found in his possession after his death, and was written to a woman that he had met only days before.

He never quit his day job

It's now strange to think of Beethoven's composing as a "side hustle," but it was! He made a consistent living by teaching piano lessons, writing commissions and publishing his own music.

He loved macaroni and cheese

According to Anton Schindler's biography, Beethoven was a fan of "Macaroni mit Parmesan-Käse" (macaroni with parmesan cheese). A big difference between that and today's mac and cheese, however, was the price. In Beethoven's time, macaroni was three times as expensive as rice, and parmesan cheese had to be imported from Italy, making for an expensive comfort food.