Ludwig van Beethoven is arguably the greatest composer of all time. But his greatness, and the greatness of his music, was not the result of genius alone (though he certainly had the lion's share of that). Out of the great tragedy of his life -- the loss of a composer's most treasured sense: his hearing -- and the anguish, loneliness, and bitterness engendered by that tragedy, was born that extraordinary music. The music of Beethoven -- by turns, passionate and sublime -- was destined to stir and to break the hearts of all its listeners. Beethoven was a master symphonist - the master symphonist in the eyes of most musicians and listeners. His compositions for orchestra were revolutionary in his day; while he adhered to classical musical forms, his melodies and orchestration were of such unprecedented power and beauty that they astonished even the most hardened listeners.