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Researchers Study Beethoven’s Hair, Unlock New Secrets About His Life, Death



His music changed the world, and nearly 200 years after his death, new technology unlocks new secrets about the life and death of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, California is full of objects and information about the legendary German composer. Here is where experts are investigating more about him using a key element.

The center contains something more intriguing than his well-known compositions — a new genomic analysis of a strand of Beethoven’s hair.

“He’s been like the foundation, he’s the heart of music, he’s the founding father,” a student said.

Nearly 200 years after his death, we’re learning more tonight about Ludwig Van Beethoven thanks to a study at San Jose State University. NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke with Business and Tech Reporter Scott Budman for some insight.

Dr. William Meredith, Emeritus Director of the Beethoven Center at SJSU, says the composer died of cirrhosis and suffered from hepatitis B.


“What the study showed was that Beethoven had two sets of genes that predisposed you to have liver disease,” Meredith said.

Additionally, in a 23andMe-like twist, it turns out he’s not linked to certain relatives or even his last name.

“Beethoven, his last name shouldn’t be Beethoven. It should be something else,” Meredith said.

He said there’s more to learn about Beethoven using the resources from the center and the help of DNA technology.

“The Beethoven Center was very interested in technology, being in Silicon Valley of course, and if technology becomes available, of course, we want to understand the world better,” Meredith said.

Source: NBC New York


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