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Famous German People

Albert Einstein

On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Wurttenburg, Germany. Very shortly after his birth when Einstein was six weeks old, his family moved to Munich. Einstein would begin his education at the Luitpold Gymnasium. But the family would move again to Austria and Italy and Einstein would have to continue his education in those places. He eventually ended up at the Swiss Polytechnic School in Zurich. There, he studied and trained to be a teacher in both physics and mathematics.

Einstein attempted to get jobs at universities, but failed at each attempt. Instead, he secured a job at the Swiss Patent Office. During the time he spent there, Einstein would work on his mathematics and physics and it was then that he honed his theories and began to publish papers on those subjects. In 1903, Einstein married Mileva Maric. She had been the lone female member of Einstein’s physics class. The couple had two boys, one born in 1904 and another in 1910. The couple would end up becoming estranged, and Einstein began a relationship with his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal. He would divorce Mileva and marry Elsa all in the same year of 1919.

In 1914, Einstein was invited to accept a research fellowship and appointment in physics by the German government. It was a prestigious position. However, earlier in Einstein’s life, he had denounced his German citizenship along political lines and his disdain for their military forcefulness. But the position in Berlin would prove too tempting, and Einstein ultimately accepted. He would publish his paper on the general theory of relativity in 1916, and go on to write dozens more papers.

Einstein’s work is considered some of the most groundbreaking and relevant to physics and mathematics in all of history. Einstein moved to America in 1933, and died in New Jersey on April 18, 1955.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Born in 1770, Ludwig was most likely born on December 16, but baptized on December 17. Today, his birth date is not really known because no formal record exists. But, most agree that with a baptism on the 17th, Beethoven was probably born the day before. Beethoven was born to Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich in Bonn, Germany. The couple had seven children in all, only three of whom survived infancy. Ludwig would remain the oldest of three boys. At a very early age, Ludwig’s father would recognize his amazing talents. Ludwig’s grandfather (also named Ludwig) was a bass singer in the electorate of Cologne, and rose to the position of musical director there. Therefore, Beethoven’s father Johann was also a musician and history maintains that it was the father that served as Beethoven’s first teacher of music. But by the age of nine, Beethoven was under the tutelage of Christian Gottlob Neefe. By the age of thirteen, Neefe would teach Beethoven how to compose his first piece of music.

In 1787, after studying music and possibly meeting Mozart in Vienna (history cannot docment whether or not the two actually met), Beethoven returned to Bonn to help his sick mother. She died shortly after his return, and Beethoven’s father spiraled downward into addictions. So by the age of 17, this musical virtuoso would become the primary caregiver for his two younger brothers. Several years in Bonn, Ludgwig decided to move back to Vienna and shortly after his departure from Bonn, his father passed away.

Now Ludwig was able to focus on studying music and performing. While he did not necessarily plan on becoming a composer, the gift was already bestowed upon him. In the early 1800’s, Beethoven began to write the Moonlight Sonata and The Creatures of Prometheus. These would prove to be two of his best and most famous works. At the same time, Ludwig would hire his brother Carl to work on the business side of handling his compositions and the sale to publishers.

Beginning in the year 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. While the exact cause is not known, Beethoven would write of his symptoms, and complained of ringing in his ears. While his hearing issues would prove to hamper social situations it was the impact of his hearing on his ability to play music that would ultimately affect him the most. Ludwig was able to still compose music with ease, but he was becoming increasingly unable to play even his own concertos.

Years later, Beethoven would grow ill and he spent months bedridden. On March 26, 1827 Beethoven died. During his funeral procession, it is estimated that there were over 20,000 people in attendance in Vienna.