The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #172240   Message #4168365
Posted By: Steve Shaw
25-Mar-23 - 07:50 AM
Thread Name: Beethoven's death - DNA project
Subject: RE: Beethoven's death - DNA project
A rather odd thing: when I saw this thread this morning I was listening to the string quartet Op 59 no 2 (I recommend it!).

The first thing to say is that Beethoven lived to the age of 56 or 57, not outstandingly old but not out of order for the time. His deafness is very well documented, but his other health issues, less so. It seems that we now know that he suffered from hepatitis B, which wouldn't have done his liver much good. We know that he was a wine drinker but also that he was outraged by any suggestion that he was a drunkard. Of course, drinking on top of hepatitis wouldn't have been the best way to steer through life. His very best output spanned over 30 years of his life, getting mightier by the year and enduring right to the end, hardly the pattern you'd expect from a raving alcoholic.

His lifestyle was unsettled and chaotic. He moved house many times and was known to be careless of personal hygiene. One of his friends noted that his "pot de nuit" was once so full that it could hardly be moved without spilling. It isn't too much of a stretch to suppose that a lot of his gastrointestinal troubles might have arisen from this. In the last few years of his life he was a fairly isolated figure, often at war with his associates and obsessed with his custody battle over his nephew Karl. At the same time his work output was prodigious (think Missa Solemnis, ninth symphony, Diabelli variations, late string quartets, late piano sonatas), and I can imagine him in his quarters all alone, hunched over his piano which he could scarcely hear, if at all, glass of wine to hand, neglecting his diet...Not a healthy lifestyle conducive to long life...

Lots of mythology, facts thin on the ground, but at least we've gleaned something from his locks of hair. Bottom line, not a well man, unhealthy, stressful lifestyle, lived to a reasonable age...Think I'll concentrate on his music. I have a Beethoven bust. He and I often have a chat. Pity there's no afterlife because I'd have loved a good face-to-face natter with him. Maybe I'll learn German before I die, just in case.