Did Beethoven Die From Lead Poisoning? Facts And Myths
Ludwig van Beethoven, a well-renowned German composer and pianist, was an important figure in Western classical music. He remains to be one of the most influential and acclaimed composers in the world. He produced the finest music which later gained him the title of a virtuoso pianist.
In his early twenties, Beethoven moved to Vienna to study. His hearing began to deteriorate and yet he continued to perform, conduct, and compose even after his condition completely weakened.
Illness and Death
The pianist’s health began to deteriorate during when his nephew attempted to commit suicide. Even before this incident, he engaged in alcohol drinking which finally lead to his death in 1827. The autopsy revealed profound liver damage which may have resulted from his heavy alcohol consumption.
The famous musician was buried in West of Vienna and was later transferred to Zentralfriedhof. His body was exhumed and studied in the year 1862 where speculations about the real cause of his death began to surface. During which, his friends clipped portions of his hair and were later used for further analysis. Skull fragments have also been removed during this time and were subjected to additional laboratory exams.
The analyses have lead to controversies which are still being solved at present. Experts believe that Beethoven was accidentally poisoned with lead. The latter served as treatments administered and prescribed by his doctor. Although no physical evidence suggests such, people came to the conclusion that the famed musician died of lead poisoning.
New tests do not only suggest that Beethoven had indeed suffered from lead poisoning. The results confirmed that the legendary composer died from this condition. Although none had hard evidences why his lead levels are so high, there is no doubt about the cause of his death.
It is also possible that the pianist’s body may have been hyper sensitive to lead. However, his system found no way to eliminate it which later lead to poisoning.
Researchers used bone and hair samples for these tests. The two samples were derived from distinct sources and were matched by DNA tests. With this is mind, there is truly no doubt that he died from such accidental cause.
What remains a mystery now is his exposure to this highly toxic element. There are some suggestions that occurred over the years. The possibilities include his wine consumption which is believed to contain lead heavy metals. The wine, during those times, was laced with metals like lead.
Some researchers suggest that he had Syphilis and acquired lead from there. Years ago, mercury was a popular treatment for such disease condition. Others also believe that Beethoven got lethal doses of lead from the cup where he used to drink. This goblet was made partially of lead material which leads to such speculations.
Although none of these were proven true, the myths are considered to be the most probable cause of his lead exposure. This, however, remains true: Beethoven’s death was caused not by heavy alcohol consumption but by lead intoxication.