House of birth, Bonn, Bonngasse 20, now the Beethoven-Haus museum
Beethoven was the grandson of a musician of Flemish origin named Lodewijk van Beethoven (1712–73)(Ludwig is the German cognate of Dutch Lodewijk) who was employed as a bass singer at the court of the Elector of Cologne, rising to become Kapellmeister (music director). Lodewijk had one son, Johannvan Beethoven (1740–1792), who worked as a tenor in the same musical establishment, also giving lessons on piano and violin to supplement his income. Johann married Maria Magdalena Keverich in 1767;she was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Keverich, who had been the head chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier.
Prince-Elector's Palace (Kurfürstliches Schloss) in Bonn, where theBeethoven family had been active since the 1730s
Beethoven was born of this marriage in Bonn. There is no authentic record of the date of his birth; however, the registry of his baptism, in a RomanCatholic service at the Parish of St. Regius on 17 December, 1770, survives. As children of that era were traditionally baptised the day after birth in the Catholic Rhine country, and it is known thatBeethoven's family and his teacher Johann Albrechtsberger celebrated his birthday on 16 December, most scholars accept 16 December, 1770 as Beethoven's date of birth. Of the seven children bornto Johann van Beethoven, only Ludwig, the second-born, and two younger brothers survived infancy. Caspar Anton Carl was born on 8 April 1774, and Nikolaus Johann, the youngest, was born on 2 October1776.
Beethoven's first music teacher was his father. Although tradition has it that Johann van Beethoven was a harsh instructor, and that the child Beethoven, "made to stand at the keyboard, wasoften in tears," the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians claimed that no solid documentation supported this, and asserted that "speculation and myth-making have both been productive."...