Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827 ) is known as one of the greatest composers in history. His work marked a turning point for composers, who had previously written primarily for religious services, to teach, or to entertain at social functions. But Beethoven's music was listened to for pleasure. His pioneering work gave musicians a new freedom to express themselves.
All About Beethoven includes a bio and a timeline, but my favorite section is Beethoven's Music, where you'll be introduced to Beethoven's major works in ten different genres. "Beethoven is the composer responsible for bringing chamber music to the concert hall. ... They [his chamber music pieces] are also seen as pushing the boundaries of acceptable harmony of that time, and are regarded as some of his most profound works." There is also a section of free classical sheet music (in PDF) that includes works by Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and a handful of others.
Yup, you read it correctly. This is a page devoted entirely to Beethoven jokes. All of them are entirely clean, of course, with the exception of this one: "What's brown and sits on a piano bench?" I'll let you look up the punch line. While there, you can browse the rest of the Beethoven Depot site which includes a Beethoven discussion board, chat room, mailing list, portrait gallery, and a large MIDI collection of Beethoven's works.
"Beethoven is recognized by many as the greatest composer whoever lived. But very often we overlook the man in favor of seeing the feats of the master composer. This biography is dedicated to exploring the life of this most unique genius in an endeavor to discover more of the man behind the music." In addition to the detailed biography, you'll find a well-organized portrait gallery and a few fascinating (but wordy) peeks into the history behind several of Beethoven's major works (listed under Research Projects.)
John Suchet is a television journalist who did extensive Beethoven research for a three-part television special titled "The Last Master." This site is a compilation of that research, including photos he took of "all the important locations in Beethoven's life," portraits of Beethoven's friends and family, a chronology of Beethoven's life, and a "friendly guide" to Beethoven's music, arranged by genre. "What is it that sets Beethoven's music apart? ... For me it is this: Beethoven broke the rules."