Thought piece by Shelby Britt. I grew up on classical music. Every night for years, my mom would turn on Mozart’s ... [Read more]
Beethoven: A Medical Biography
June 30 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pmFree
Speaker: Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, Gastroenterologist, Louis and Gloria Flanzer Scholar at Columbia University Medical Center
Much ink has been spilled on Beethoven’s personal struggles and the relationship between his life and works. The onset of Beethoven’s hearing loss prompted a personal and professional crisis that transformed his compositional output and altered the development of classical music. His late quartets, composed between major illnesses, are likewise monuments of artistic achievement. But what do we know now about Beethoven’s medical history? What are the leading theories as to the cause of his deafness, and the cause of his death from liver disease? Why, more than a century after his death, was a lock of Beethoven’s hair tested for lead content? In this talk we will review the major medical events of Beethoven’s life, highlighting eyewitness reports, doctors’ notes, conversation books, and the medical data that emerged after Beethoven’s death, including his autopsy report. In so doing we will gain a glimpse into medical practice in Beethoven’s time, and insight on Beethoven’s view that healing can be reflected in, and spurred by, music.
RSVP requested. Free to the public; all donations support performers and our programming mission.