If Beethoven was deaf, how did he compose?

If Beethoven was deaf, how did he compose?

Although Beethoven was known for being deaf, there is a big misconception about his disability. Beethoven was, indeed, deaf, but for the majority of his life he had perfect hearing. In fact, it wasn’t until he was 30 years old that his hearing started to diminish. By that time, he had already composed many piano concerts, six string quartets and had even composed his first symphony. Luckily, the loss of his hearing was a slow process, which allowed Beethoven to continue composing music. Since he had played and listened to music for the first three decades of his life, he was extremely familiar with how he wanted music to sound. 

His hearing ability dwindled over the next few years, and unfortunately he lost all of his hearing by the age of 44. However, his intuition was strong, and he had a strong memory. He was still able to recognize and imagine how music should sound! Beethoven’s earlier works were composed using a full range of frequencies, but in his later works, lower notes were used. This was due to his hearing loss. As his hearing began to fail, he started to use notes that he was able to hear more clearly. He still continued to use higher notes in his compositions, and towards the end of his career he began using them again. It is said that towards the end of his career, he was relying exclusively on his imagination, therefore using higher notes once more.

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