Reiter C1* and Prohaska T2
1Center for Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
2Department of General and Analytical Chemistry, University of Leoben, Austria
Beethoven died of liver failure with pre-existing liver cirrhosis on March 26th, 1827, after pneumonia accompanied by therapeutic complications. Fractionated elemental analysis of two of Beethoven's curls allowed the determination of the lead content during the last 420 days of his life with several pathological lead peaks during his last year. These correlate with Beethoven's records in the "Konversationshefte" about the therapy of his pneumonia and the dates of the performed paracenteses. The detection of abnormal lead concentrations in Beethoven's hair has opened up discussions in recent years about whether Beethoven's deafness might have been the result of chronic lead intoxication caused by the consumption of adulterated wine. Further heavy metal analyses based on Halm's curl presented here provided that Beethoven was not exposed to any relevant lead amounts between February 1826 and September/October 1825. Our investigations did not reveal any evidence that Beethoven's chronic progressive deafness could have been the result of long-term exposure to lead.
Halm's Beethoven curls; LA-ICP-MS; Deafness and lead exposure
Reiter C, Prohaska T. Toxicological Investigations Around the Humorous Stories of the Halm Curls of Beethoven's Hair. Am J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023; 6(1): 1225.