1827: Was Beethoven Poisoned by his own Physician?

1827: Was Beethoven Poisoned by his own Physician?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Beethovens funeral

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 26 March 1827
  • After Beethoven's death, an autopsy of his body was performed, which revealed liver damage.

The famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven died on this day in Vienna at the age of only 56. While he was dying, a thunderstorm reportedly raged over Vienna.

The exact cause of Beethoven’s death still remains a mystery. It is known that he spent the last months of his life in bed. An autopsy of his body was made after his death, which revealed liver cirrhosis. There are theories that his liver was damaged due to alcohol or hepatitis, and perhaps even syphilis.

One of the most recent theories, from 2008, states that Beethoven was inadvertently poisoned by his own doctor, who gave him excessive doses of medication containing lead.

Beethoven on his deathbed
Beethoven on his deathbed

In any case, Beethoven’s death strongly echoed in Vienna at that time. Between ten and thirty thousand people attended his funeral, and he was ceremonially buried, unlike Mozart, whose place of burial remains unknown.

It is known that Beethoven had hearing problems towards the end of his life. In the end, he was almost totally deaf, so he communicated with his friends in writing. Books with these written conversations (originally over 400 books) are important for understanding Beethoven’s way of thinking.

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