Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


What killed Beethoven? Genome sequencing of composer’s hair finds likely cause

Scientists have sequenced the genome of Ludwig van Beethoven by analysing his hair. They found the likely cause of his death at 56 years old, and also a possible affair in his paternal lines.

A team of international researchers from Cambridge University examined hair strands from eight different locks, both public and private. Five of these were authentic and one was European.

Born in Bonn in 1770, the German composer and pianist. He began to experience progressive hearing loss in his 20s and was eventually left functionally deaf in 1818. In 1827, he died in Vienna at the age of 56.

Image Scientists sequenced the genome of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven

Although it was not possible to determine the cause of Beethoven’s hearing loss or digestive problems, researchers found that there is a strong possibility that Beethoven died from a combination of a genetic predisposition and a hepatitis B virus.


Over the past two centuries, many questions have been raised about his death. Speculations began almost as soon as he was laid down to rest.

One reason was lead exposure. Some scientists suggested that he had consumed too much low-quality wine sweetened with lead to mask the bitterness. This was the norm in 19th century.

A 2010 study proved that this was not the case. Researchers found no lead in a small fragment of Beethoven’s skull.

Learn More about the World

Image Researchers deemed the hair authentic and it was from one European male

“His alcohol intake was very frequent”

Tristan Begg, a Cambridge University researcher, led the study. He said that Beethoven’s “conversation” books, which he kept during his last decade of life, indicate “that his alcohol intake was very regular, though it is difficult to quantify the volume.”

He said: “While most of his contemporaries claim that his alcohol consumption was moderate according to early 19th-century Viennese standards,” there isn’t complete agreement among these sources. This still suggests that he consumed large amounts of alcohol today which could have been harmful to his liver.

His cirrhosis could be explained by his excessive alcohol consumption over a prolonged period of time.

Based on genomic data, the researchers believe that Beethoven’s gastrointestinal problems were not caused by coeliac disease or lactose intolerance.

Johannes Krause from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology said, “We can’t say definitively what killed Beethoven.” “But, we can at least confirm that there is a significant heritable risk of hepatitis B and that the infection has occurred.

“We also have the ability to eliminate other genetic causes that are less likely.”

“Taking into account the medical history, it’s highly probable that it was some combination these three factors, including his drinking, acting in concert. Future research will need to clarify the extent of each factor.”

The hair samples were not examined to determine if Beethoven’s hearing loss was genetic.

Image The locks of what is thought to be Beethoven’s hair, taken from both private and public collections

Affair in

An analysis of the hair revealed that there was a child from Beethoven’s affair, which researchers call an “extra-pair paternity” event.

This study shows that this event occurred in the direct paternal link between Hendrik van Beethoven’s conception in Belgium in 1572 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s conception seven generations later in 1770.

Maarten Larmuseau (a genetic genealogist at KU Leuven in Belgium) said that “through the combination DNA data and archival papers, we were able o observe a discrepancy Ludwig van Beethoven’s legal-biological genealogy.”

Mr Begg stated that he hoped that Beethoven’s DNA would be made publicly available to researchers and possibly added authenticated locks in the initial chronological sequence, so that any remaining questions regarding his health and genealogy could someday be answered.

Current Biology published the research.


Latest Tweets

London Globe

Omar Harfouch denounces state anti-Semitism in Lebanon..… #news #


You May Also Like


The controversial Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, well-known for his years-long counterstanding with his wealthy sister Elena, widow of Moscow ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is likely...

United Kingdom

Film director Ridley Scott has recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed while making the Oscar winning blockbuster Gladiator. Scott said hard-drinking Reed “just...

United Kingdom

The Watneys Party Seven is making a comeback. The ubiquitous 70s beer was a bland fizzing bitter ridiculed by many. The drink’s insipidness helped...

European Union

On April 9, 2022 Dimash Qudaibergen’s first solo concert in Germany took place in Düsseldorf. The colossal energy and the atmosphere of unity did...