Shocking Genetic Clues Unearth Fascinating Details About Beethoven’s Life And Death

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Nov 03, 2023

Over the years, science has evolved in many ways, including aiding the understanding of complex problems. The misdiagnosis of these problems was majorly due to the lack of adequate scientific studies and equipment.

One such helpful scientific discovery is Deoxyribonucleic Acid, popularly known as DNA. Recent studies show that DNA can prove so much about human existence, including the root causes of illnesses and loss of life. Interestingly, there have been reports that this discovery has unearthed more information about the popular composer Beethoven. 

Before The Introduction And Advancement Of DNA

DNA can be traced back to when selective breeding became popular in agriculture to yield better harvests. This practice formed the basis for advanced research into modern-day DNA technology.


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In the past, identifying the causes of a person’s demise was majorly based on physical wounds and/or symptoms. This process has impacted medical investigations negatively, especially in an event of a mysterious passing, where evidence is necessary to understand everything. 


DNA Advancement: A Break From The Known

Years of genetic research have led scientists to an advancement in DNA. Notable scientists such as Friedrich Miescher, who is considered the father of DNA, have carried out years of research into genes and chromosomes. 


Source: Wikipedia

DNA has also helped in investigating fossils of animals that have gone extinct and uncovering some mysteries surrounding the passing of many historical figures, with Ludwig Van Beethoven as the latest focus.

The Early Life Of Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven, a classical music composer, and pianist in the 1820s was considered one of the best historical musicians of all time. He was born in Germany and the eldest surviving child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. The Beethoven family, who started out quite prosperous, lost their wealth as a result of the demise of Beethoven’s grandfather and his father’s addiction to alcohol. 


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His father tried to make him into a musical genius like his predecessor, Mozart, but it was not until his adolescence years that he began to garner attention. At the age of 18, Beethoven dropped out of school and took on the title of the breadwinner.

Music To Everyone’s Ears

Beethoven became a musician at the King’s court for nine years, after which he moved to Vienna, where he spent the rest of his life as an understudy and composer. Some of Beethoven’s notable work includes the Third (Eroica) Symphony (1804).


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He was also the first composer to earn a successful living from music and not earnings at court and church. 

The Beginning Of The End

At the age of 28, Beethoven began to notice defects in his hearing, but that didn’t stop his music career. He continued as a composer, pianist, and violinist. 

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He completely lost his hearing at the age of 45 and was unable to make conversation and, therefore, adopted the use of pen and paper in communication. He finally passed at 56. 


Understanding The Mystery

As medicine continues to evolve, scientists have developed a means to identify the causes of Beethoven’s hearing loss and other health issues through the use of DNA obtained from strands of his hair that had been preserved.

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This development comes nearly 200 years after the passing of the musical genius. Incredibly, the composer had also wanted medical research carried out on him after his demise. The study was carried out at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


A 200-Year Puzzle Solved

In the study, the DNA result gave no specific cause for Beethoven’s loss of hearing, but it pointed out some health issues the musical genius may have had to deal with when he was alive.

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The results from the composer’s hair samples showed possible genetic risks linked to liver diseases and hepatitis B. 


What Beethoven’s DNA Results Showed Us

Scientists deduced that liver diseases that affected the composer later in his life may have created some limitations in his career, as well. The composer was also known to be a chronic alcoholic during his time; this has been attributed to the onset of his liver disease.

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The clues obtained from research alongside several factors such as rheumatism, jaundice, and the composer’s chronic drinking problem may be probable causes of his passing.


Reflecting On The Evolution Of Genetic Science

The use of genetic testing in understanding the ailments that plagued the composer’s life was one that scientists consider fulfilling as it also proves how far science has evolved.

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Many scientists in various fields had considered the demise of Beethoven a medical mystery. Through the genetic analysis of Beethoven’s DNA, more light has been shed on the illness that adversely affected the renowned composer.


DNA Research In Other Fields

DNA analysis has also made easy the investigation of health risks linked to genes, the production of more nutritious foods through advanced selective breeding, and archaeology through its evolution. It has also helped in investigating pieces of evidence found at crime scenes. 

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The use of DNA in research has been highly advantageous in highlighting the roles of genes in various biological organisms. Although more research is being carried out on the role of DNA, it has come a long way in simplifying activities once considered complex.