The Death of Beethoven

by K-Berens

A watercolor by Franz Stöber depicting Ludwig van Beethoven's funeral procession on March 29th, 1827.

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s death in 1827 is still a cause for speculation today. Some argue that Beethoven had died from lead poisoning due to a doctor’s careless dosage, and others make a case saying the cause of death could have been syphilis, liver failure resulting from alcoholism, or even hepatitis.

Beethoven was one of the most influential composers of all-time. His final last words were “Pity, pity – too late!” when told about a gift of twelve bottles of wine from a friend. During his time of death, people had cut off locks of his hair to treasure. After Beethoven’s death, a death mask was made, and he was buried in a coffin holding a cross and a lily.

After a church procession, Beethoven was buried in a cemetery in northwest Vienna but, his remains were moved in 1888 to Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof cemetery. The funeral procession was incredible – anywhere between ten and thirty thousand people were said to have lined the streets of Vienna.

Many people were offered money to rob the grave of Beethoven and cut off his head and because of these threats, Beethoven’s grave was kept on constant watch. Franz Schubert, another prolific composer, was buried beside Beethoven as his final wish a little over a year later. One of the locks of Beethoven’s hair is kept at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at the San Jose State University.


Read more:

Beethoven’s terminal illness and death | NCBI

The Beethoven Center | The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies

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