Surely, the official date of Beethoven’s deafness was withheld from the public for many years before it was “officially” revealed, and had it not been for him being caught in the act (of not hearing), we never might’ve found out about his deafness.
It turns out Ludwig was in cahoots with his assistant/disciple/girlfriend, and whilst people spoke to Ludwig, she stood behind them signaling (sign language), so that Ludwig would pretend he could hear every word, and respond accordingly; however, one day, whilst entertaining an aristocrat, the conversation got very convoluted and the assistant/disciple/girlfriend could not keep up; leaving Ludwig stranded in the dark. The aristocrat noticed this, and then further propagated the news/gossip, “he’s deaf,” which further led to inquisitive minds testing Ludwig without the presence of his assistant, “can you hear me now….!”
It was only then that he admitted he’d just gone deaf “a few weeks ago,” but it turns out he’d been deaf for years prior, yet nobody noticed.
I have this from the most reliable source of them all: the man, himself! For he appears to me at night to shoot the breeze, play billiards, and gossip ‘bout Mozart!