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Beethoven's Late period began around 1816 and lasted until Beethoven ceased to compose in 1826. The late works are greatly admired for their intellectual depth and their intense, highly personal expression. They include the Ninth Symphony (the "Choral"), the Missa Solemnis, the last six string quartets and the last five piano sonatas.

Beethoven's personal life was troubled. Around age 28 he started to become deaf, a calamity which led him for some time to contemplate suicide. He was attracted to unattainable (married or aristocratic) women, whom he idealized; he never married. A period of low productivity from about 1812 to 1816 is thought by some scholars to have been the result of depression, resulting from Beethoven's realization that he would never marry. Beethoven quarreled, often bitterly, with his relatives and others, and frequently behaved badly to other people. He moved often from dwelling to dwelling, and had strange personal habits such as wearing filthy clothing while washing compulsively. He often had financial troubles, but such had been the life of most professional composers since his time.

It is common for listeners to perceive an echo of Beethoven's life in his music, which often depicts struggle followed by triumph. This description is often applied to Beethoven's creation of masterpieces in the face of his severe personal difficulties.

Beethoven was often in poor health, and in 1826 his health took a drastic turn for the worse. His death in the following year is usually attributed to liver disease.

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