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German composer Ludwig van Beethoven created melodies and harmonies we instantly recognize, even in this entertainment-saturated 21st century. Overcoming childhood abuse, hearing loss, romantic rejection, and bouts of depression and alcoholism, Beethoven channeled his stormy emotions into music that compelled audiences to viscerally feel what he felt. In the process, he helped end the regimented Classical era and usher in the Romantic period, when even the most flawed artists were sovereign.