Ludwig van Beethoven Net Worth at Death – How Did He Get Rich?

Ludwig van Beethoven Net Worth

Ludwig van Beethoven had an estimated net worth of $5 million at the time of his death. Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer whose Symphony 5 is a beloved classic. Some of his greatest works were composed while Beethoven was going deaf. He earned the majority of his income from music performance. 

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German pianist and composer widely regarded as one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. His innovative compositions combined voice and instruments and expanded the possibilities of the sonata, symphony, concerto, and quartet. He is the crucial transitional figure between the classical and romantic eras of Western music.

Beethoven’s personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness, and some of his most important works were written during the last decade of his life when he could barely hear. He died at the age of 56.

To calculate the net worth of Ludwig van Beethoven, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Ludwig van Beethoven
Net Worth: $5 Million
Monthly Salary: $50 Thousand
Annual Income: $800 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Musician, Composer, Pianist

Early Life

Born in Bonn, of Flemish ancestry, Ludwig’s childhood was made miserable by a father determined to turn him into an infant prodigy, in the mold of the distinguished Mozart. In fact, the father’s yearning to see his son succeed as a child was so intense that he had Ludwig’s birth records post-dated to 1772. 

Preferring to drink overwork, the elder Beethoven saw the boy’s four-year-old talent as a way to earn money to lift the family out of its impoverished conditions. Ludwig did his exercises frequently in tears, under the iron hand of his father and the beatings he imposed. 

One day, when Ludwig’s mother protested this cruelty, she too was beaten, upsetting the boy so much that he resolved to become great in order to buy his mother a better life. Beethoven began composing early on, publishing some compositions at age twelve. 

In 1787 he met and performed for Mozart in Vienna, who commented on the lad, “Keep your eyes on him. Someday, he will give the world something to talk about.” Indeed, he was to become perhaps the greatest of all musical composers. 

Returning to Bonn, Ludwig played viola in the city’s orchestra, but composed without much promise. In 1792, with French troops marching on Bonn, he was again sent to Vienna, residing there the remainder of his life. Young Ludwig studied under Haydn, Albrechtsberger and Salieri. 

These associations turned sour, however, due to Beethoven’s radical ideas about his music. He felt confined by the rules of composition set forth by his teachers, and sought to write with a freer, more modern interpretation. 

Still, his talent and drive to succeed carried him even during the periods in which he felt shunned. And, over time, he became immensely popular both as a piano virtuoso and teacher. Soon, his compositions also became well received. 

Vienna’s high society tolerated Beethoven despite his repulsive appearance (he was stocky, hairy, broad-handed, and his face was pock-marked) and his unruly manners (he laughed over-loudly, was arrogant and untidy). 

He frequently caused “unpleasant scenes” where he would excitedly call people cheats – or worse – in public. He was a stranger to rules of etiquette and never concerned himself about such things. As one of Beethoven’s few students, Ferdinand Ries, explained: 

Attempts were made to coerce Beethoven into behaving with the proper deference. This was, however, unbearable for him. … One day, finally, when he was again, as he termed it, being “sermonized on court manners,” he very angrily pushed his way up to the Archduke and said quite frankly that though he had the greatest possible reverence for his person, a strict observance of all the regulations to which his attention was called every day was beyond him. 

The Archduke laughed good-naturedly about the incident and gave orders to let Beethoven go his own way in peace; he must be taken as he was. 

Ries went on to describe his mentor’s personal habits, which were quite the opposite of what one would expect from a master musician: 

Beethoven was most awkward and bungling in his behavior; his clumsy movements lacked all grace. He rarely picked up anything without dropping or breaking it. … Everything was knocked over, soiled, or destroyed. How he ever managed to shave himself at all remains difficult to understand, even considering the frequent cuts on his cheeks. … He never learned to dance in time with the music.

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Beethoven’s music, more than any composer, was characterized by his moods. Three periods seem to define his life, and thus his musical creations:

First Period (1792-1802) 

The composer’s initial musical style didn’t differ markedly from that of Haydn’s or Mozart’s. A traditional flavor dominated his first two symphonies, which included Sonata in C Minor and “Pathetique” and “Moonlight” Sonatas. In his late-twenties, just as his reputation was climbing, Beethoven’s first signs of deafness appeared. 

This crisis deeply disturbed the young man, who actually contemplated taking his life, though in a letter to his brother he bravely prescribed for himself “patience and determination.” 

Second Period (1802-1812) 

Beethoven’s growing depression caused him to withdraw socially – and his musical style became dramatically altered as well. Though he never married, he had several romantic affairs with female pupils during these years, and the romantic, emotional notes harbored deep inside of him flowed out. 

He produced a prolific output of compositions within this ten-year time frame. Despite the fact that he paid little attention to what was fashionable with the audiences of the day, Beethoven’s music increased in popularity. 

His lengthy Third Symphony, the “Eroica” (originally dedicated to Napoleon, but recanted by an angry Beethoven when Napoleon crowned himself as France’s sovereign), the dazzling “Kreutzer” Sonata, the celebrated Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, the Violin Concerto, the overture “Lenore,” followed by the quiet Sixth Symphony, all had an originality previously unseen. 

A number of songs, his first five quartets, and the brief, lilting Seventh and Eighth Symphonies closed out these impassioned years. At this point, Beethoven was beset by health and business worries. 

Quarrels with some of his friends and contractual disappointments caused him much grief. Additionally, Beethoven was given custody of a nephew who brought the doting and eccentric uncle great sadness during the rest of his life. 

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Final Period (1817-1827) 

As the years passed, Beethoven became totally deaf. His compositions became both fewer and more difficult to understand, and critics often spoke unkindly of his works. Beethoven was said to have defended his latter masterpieces with the futurist’s view. 

“They are not for you, but for a later age,” he dictated in a letter. Found within his last symphonies is Beethoven’s masterpiece, the choral finale “Ode to Joy.” Its last four quartets stand as Beethoven’s supreme achievement. 

“Ode to Joy’s” final quartet was written in October of 1826, while the composer was housed at his cruel brother’s farm. Prohibited from having a warming fire in his room, Beethoven developed a severe chill. 

Then, the journey back to Vienna in an open buggy dealt him his death blow. But his final months were at last filled with confidence and contentment. As he himself proclaimed, he had “endured beyond grief”; he was now “above the battle.” 

Beethoven died of pneumonia in March of 1827. All of Vienna turned out to mourn his passing. Beethoven was by far the premier musical innovator of his age. Mozart and Bach were traditional perfectionists of musical form and elegance, and truly great composers. 

But Beethoven was original, bending music to his own will. He made lasting changes in style: he enlarged the introduction and the coda; he extended the length and scope of the symphony; he introduced episodes; he multiplied key relations within movements; he introduced the chorus for use in the symphony’s finale; he invented “song-cycles” (sequences of songs connected in subject); he redefined the variation; he initiated modern “program-music”; and he was the driving force in achieving independence of musicians and composers from the control of either church or court. 

Two of his most important contributions included expanding the size of the orchestra and establishing the piano as the foremost symphony instrument. 

Beethoven’s works marked the transition from the classical to the romantic style of music and, more than any other musician before or since, inspired divergence from orthodox form among composers who followed after him. 

Among those who borrowed from his style and employed his freeing philosophies were Brahms, Wagner, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Strauss. Beethoven’s paradoxical loss of hearing drove him to frequent and deep melancholy. 

But unlike many afflicted persons, who might have given up, he continued to compose, and during his years of deafness produced his greatest masterpieces. Overall, he yielded nine symphonies, five piano concertos, 32 piano sonatas, 16 magnificent string quartets, an opera, a mass, a ballet and some 70 songs and theatre arrangements. 

More important than his mere quantity of writings, Beethoven transformed instrumental music into quality and sensitive art form. Though far from an ideal, dignified individual, Beethoven left us gifts of music and profound creativity in musical theory, plus an influence that will likely be felt for centuries to come. 

Three years before his death, Beethoven conducted the first performance of his Ninth Symphony. When the “Ode to Joy” concluded, the soloist from the violin section took him by the arm and turned him around so he could see the wildly clapping audience. 

Clearly, his works were appreciated by his own generation, as well as by us in this later age.

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Ludwig van Beethoven Quotes

Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors.


I will seize fate by the throat; it shall certainly never wholly overcome me.


The true artist is not proud: he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal, and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.


The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, ‘Thus far and no farther.’


Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.


What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.


I must confess that I lead a miserable life. For almost two years, I have ceased to attend any social functions, just because I find it impossible to say to people, ‘I am deaf.’ If I had any other profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my profession, it is a terrible handicap.

View our larger collection of the best Ludwig van Beethoven quotes.

Further Reading

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