Ludwig van Beethoven lived from 1770-1827. During his life he created numerous pieces that pushed the boundaries and possibilities of traditional music. He was "the first musician to make a living almost exlusively through composition." (A History of Western Music, Burkholder)
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Fidelio was Beethoven's one and only opera. Originally produced under the name Leonore it unsuccessfully premiered in Vienna as a 3 act opera. It was later shortened into 2 acts with spoken dialogue and renamed Fidelio. After several revisions it was finally successful in 1814.