10 of Beethoven's family members
An introduction into some of Ludwig's relatives
Michel van Beethoven (1684-1749)
A baker by training, Beethoven’s paternal great-grandfather also traded art and lace.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1712-73)
Born in Flanders, Beethoven’s paternal grandfather was Kapellmeister at the Bonn court and ran a wine business.
María Josepha Poll (1714-75)
Beethoven was nicknamed ‘The Spaniard’, possibly due to his alcoholic paternal grandmother’s Spanish roots.
Johann van Beethoven (c1739-92)
Beethoven’s tyrant father was a tenor at the Bonn court and alcoholic. The composer battled to ensure he supported his sons.
Maria Magdalena Keverich (1746-87)
Beethoven was fond of his mother, but she died of TB while he was a teenager. Three of her seven children survived.
Kaspar Karl van Beethoven (1774-1815)
Eldest of Beethoven’s younger brothers, he worked in Vienna’s Finance Department. Married Johanna Reiss, 1806.
Nikolaus Johann van Beethoven (1776-1848)
Like Karl, Johann followed Ludwig to Vienna where he worked in a pharmacy before making a fortune in Linz.
Karl van Beethoven (1806-54)
Subject of a custody battle betwee uncle, Beethoven, and mother. Attempted suicide. Served in military, married and had children.
Johanna van Beethoven, née Reiss (c1784-1868)
Beethoven distrusted his sister-in-law, whom he called the Queen of the Night.
Therese van Beethoven, née Obermayer (1787-1828)
Therese had an illegitimate daughter, Amalie Waldmann, with Beethoven’s brother Johann.
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.