Beethovens Hair: An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved by Russell MartinThe basis for the movie of the same name, an astonishing tale of one lock of hair and its amazing travels--from nineteenth-century Vienna to twenty-first-century America.
When Ludwig van Beethoven lay dying in 1827, a young musician named Ferdinand Hiller came to pay his respects to the great composer, snipping a lock of Beethovens hair as a keepsake--as was custom at the time--in the process. For a century, the lock of hair was a treasured Hiller family relic, until it somehow found its way to the town of Gilleleje, in Nazi-occupied Denmark. There, it was given to a local doctor, Kay Fremming, who was deeply involved in the effort to help save hundreds of hunted and frightened Jews.
After Fremmings death, his daughter assumed ownership of the lock, and eventually consigned it for sale at Sothebys, where two American Beethoven enthusiasts, Ira Brilliant and Che Guevara, purchased it in 1994. Subsequently, they and others instituted a series of complex forensic tests in the hope of finding the probable causes of the composers chronically bad health, his deafness, and the final demise that Ferdinand Hiller had witnessed all those years ago. The results, revealed for the first time here, are the most compelling explanation yet offered for why one of the foremost musicians the world has ever known was forced to spend much of his life in silence.
In Beethovens Hair, Russell Martin has created a rich historical treasure hunt, a tale of false leads, amazing breakthroughs, and incredible revelations. This unique and fascinating book is a moving testament to the power of music, the lure of relics, the heroism of the Resistance movement, and the brilliance of molecular science.
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But he could have well been writing about Ludwig van Beethoven December 16, —March 26, himself — a creator suffused with darkness yet animated by the benediction of light. Like Frida Kahlo , Beethoven sublimated a lifetime of unbearable bodily suffering to the irrepressible vitality of his creative spirit. Bedeviled by debilitating physical illness all his life — the anguishing pinnacle of which was his loss of hearing at the age of twenty-eight — he nonetheless became a servant of joy. Given the mysterious onset of his hearing loss and the rudimentary state of medicine at the time, Beethoven worried that his sudden deafness might be the symptom of a fatal disease. A brilliant and ambitious young man just beginning to blossom into his genius, he was uncertain whether he would live or die — ambiguity enough to hurl even the stablest of minds into maddening anxiety. But despite his constant struggle with physical pain and the torment of his deafness — particularly painful since until its loss his exceptional hearing had been a point of pride for him — Beethoven experienced as his greatest malady his bone-deep melancholy and its sharpest flavor of loneliness.
Happy Shredding First Day of Fall! Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, on December 16 or 15 , in a family of musicians. Beethoven's father tried to force Beethoven to become "The New Mozart". He was a piano virtuoso whose playing style exploded with fire and energy. He sought medical help, but with no success. In , by the age of 40, Beethoven could no longer perform as a pianist and in , by the age of 52, he was totally deaf. Beethoven became even MORE temperamental and furious and channeled all his anger into his music.
There is dispute about the cause of Beethoven's death; alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, infectious hepatitis, lead poisoning, sarcoidosis and Whipple's disease have all been proposed. In this article all primary source documents related to Beethoven's terminal illness and death are reviewed. The documents include his letters, the report of his physician Andreas Wawruch, his Conversation Books, the autopsy report, and a new toxicological report of his hair.
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