Beethoven's 9th He lost his hearing towards the end of his life. He wrote the 9th symphony when he was deaf. The first time he performed it in front of an audience, he received a standing ovation. Someone from the orchestra had to get up and turn him around because he couldn't hear and he was facing away from the audience. When he saw how popular the 9th was with the crowd, he couldn't help but cry. To communicate with his friends, they would pass notes back and forth.