Scholar: Beethoven Was Not an Alcoholic
A medical secret about Ludwig van Beethoven may have been unlocked. A new study by an international group of researchers published in the journal Current Biology provides interesting new details about the composer’s health and genealogy.
Beethoven, the famous German composer, died in 1827. According to a New York Times article, friends and family took locks of Beethoven’s hair for remembrance.
Beethoven scholar William Meredith studied the DNA from some of these strands of hair, and Beethoven’s cause of death is speculated to be cirrhosis of the liver, but what would cause this?
“He drank, but not to excess,” Theodore Albrecht, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Music in Kent State University’s Hugh A. Glauser School of Music, was quoted by The New York Times in a story about these findings.
Albrecht is a Beethoven scholar and has studied the composer’s work for years. In 2017, at the International Beethoven-Days festival and conference, Albrecht was awarded the Beethoven Medal.
“In none of these activities did Beethoven exceed the line of consumption that would make him an ‘alcoholic,’ as we would commonly define it today,” Albrecht told The Times.
The DNA from Beethoven’s hair contained traces of hepatitis B, which is a liver infection. But the study also revealed that Beethoven may not be genetically related to people in the family line.
Read more about Albrecht’s research about Beethoven at Read Between The Lines: Kent State Musicology Professor Looks Deeper Into The Life Of Beethoven and Say What? Evidence Suggests Beethoven Not Deaf After All.
Listen to a March 29 interview Albrecht did with a radio show that airs on NPR stations serving Rochester and the Finger Lakes, New York, about Beethoven’s life.
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Theodore Albrecht, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Music in Kent State University’s Hugh A. Glauser School of Music, holds the Beethoven Medal he was awarded in 2017 in recognition of his musicological contributions to the study of composer Ludwig van Beethoven.