Yes, he started to lose his hearing after the 5th Symphony, the Pastoral (#6 symphony)was him coming to grips with the fact he was going deaf. Many of his greatest works were composed when he was deaf, including the 9th Symphony and his Hammerklavier piano sonata.
^^Yes he is my favorite composer, along with being a genius he was a full blown eccentric as well. He had a tumultuous life, but at the end whenever he appeared in public conducting the orchestra he got treated with class and respect. At his funeral tens of thousands of people paid tribute to him.
LG, on the subject of LvB...we attended a funeral last week of the husband of a good friend of my wife, and he was a great life long lover of Beethoven, and his family requested that my wife, along with 3 of her colleagues from the orchestra she plays with, should play the very short adagio movement from the Beethoven Opus 131 C sharp minor string quartet as the coffin was being carried out of the church at the end of the service, and I have to say it was quite overwhelming. For me the Beethoven quartets are amongst the most miraculous sequences in western chamber music, and this short movement is almost unbearably poignant, and as you would imagine it made for an extremely moving farewell as the funeral party left the church. It was composed by a totally deaf Beethoven in the last year of his life, to me it's incomprehensible how he achieved such perfection in his deafness with all of those late works, in musical terms it's the equivalent of Michelangelo being blind - but somehow still managing to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel....
At the premiere of Beethoven's 9th Symphony he could not hear the roaring applause from the audience at the conclusion of the performance. He was directed by someone to turn around so he could see the people applauding.