There's a very good Wikipedia article on orchestras. And I didn't realize that Beethoven had been so instrumental (heh heh) in the development of the modern orchestra.
The Beethoven wiki says that he died during a thunderstorm. That is shown in the movie "Immortal Beloved" but I had assumed it was just a ridiculously melodramatic director's choice.
Like everybody else I am an admirer of Beethoven's work but I never really studied him. I am very interested now in his Late String Quartets which were described by composer Louis Spohr as "indecipherable, uncorrected horrors", while Schubert said "After this, what is left for us to write?"