Scientists have pulled DNA from Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair to look for clues about the German composer’s many health problems and hearing loss.
What made Beethoven sick? DNA from hair offers clues
Nearly 200 years after Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, researchers pulled DNA from strands of his hair, searching for clues about the health problems and hearing loss that plagued him.
They weren’t able to crack the case of the German composer’s deafness or severe stomach ailments. But they did find a genetic risk for liver disease, plus a liver-damaging hepatitis B infection in the last months of his life.
These factors, along with his chronic drinking, were probably enough to cause the liver failure that is widely believed to have killed him, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.
This Sunday marks the 196th anniversary of Beethoven’s death in Vienna on March 26, 1827, at age 56. The composer himself wrote that he wanted doctors to study his health problems after he died.