Ludwig Van Beethoven's Death

Caitlin Cavallaro

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Born: December 17, 1770 in Bonn, Germany

Died: March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Austria

He died at 56 years old.

He was a music composer.

History of Beethoven

Beethoven was a musical genius. When he was eight years old, he played his first gig. He stated losing his hearing at 27 and he ended up being completely deaf by the age of 45. He never married and he had no children. Occasionally he would go on concert tours and he even played for kings. He would be considered a rock star in modern terms. He is considered the greatest Romantic composer. He spoke with people by writing in a book because there was no such thing as sign language then. His life wasn't only about playing music. He also cared for his rather long hair. it turns out that Beethoven's hair helped discover how he died.

His Disease

Beethoven suffered from stomach problems for most of his life. He got pneumonia but he couldn't get rid of it. He also couldn't go to the bathroom (Chamber pot back then). This caused him to get dropsy. Dropsy made him fill up with waste lake a balloon. They tried to suck the waste out through a hole in his stomach. The doctors would plug up the hole with a rag and send him home. he had to continuously get waste taken out which caused the hole to get infected. he still wasn't getting better so they tried giving him a steam bath which just made him absorb all the water from the tub. soon enough not being able to go to the bathroom caused him to die. The doctors performed an autopsy. His organs were either too small or too big. They also cut off his head to see why he was so special. Somehow the doctors lost parts of his skull and they had given away all his hair. Then they found these pieces and analyzed them. the results concluded that Beethoven had massive lead poisoning.

Treatments: then and now


  • Doctors would drill a hole in his stomach to such out unwanted waste.
  • There was no such thing as pain medicine.
  • There was no such thing as stitches.
  • The doctors plugged the hole with a rag.
  • Doctors reused the same hole with unsanitary condition causing infections.
  • They tried to give him a sweat bath to sweat out the liquid. (Made him absorb all the water from the bath.)
  • They did an autopsy on him after he died and all they did was make a mess of things.


  • Doctors today would have figured out that Beethoven had lead poisoning.
  • Then they would remove all sources of contamination.
  • You could receive chelation therapy. This is where you take medicine that binds with the lead so it gets excreted with your urine.
  • Or you could receive EDTA therapy. This is where you take a drug that is mostly a chemical called ethylenediaminetetradcetic acid(EDTA).
  • In severe cases, it might not be possible to reverse the damage that has occurred. Instead, the doctors try to prevent it from getting worse.



Beethoven contracted pneumonia and he couldn't go to the bathrom. He got pneumonia and he couldn't get rid of it. This started a hole mess of problems to arise.

Later in 1827

He got dropsy and the doctors had to drain his waste. This made Beethoven sicker and he got infected.

March 26, 1827

Beethoven died at 56. This was the end of his life. He could no longer make any more music. The doctors never really knew what officially caused his death. They gave him an autopsy and they found that his organs were either too big or too small.


Doctors dug up Beethoven to look at his head. They were able to take pictures of it now. To keep it safe, some guy took it home. They soon found out that the guy ended up giving parts of Beethoven's skull away.


Some skull collectors were able to recover pieces of his skull. Some doctors were able to analyze the pieces again. They discovered that Beethoven had massive lead poisoning. The researchers believe that this is what Beethoven died of and that the lead poisoning caused most of his problems in his life.


  1. Analyze-to separate into constituent parts or elements; determine the elements or essential features
  2. Autopsy-inspection and dissection of a body after death, as for determination of the cause of death
  3. Dropsy-When fluid inside your body that's supposed to get out can't
  4. Lead Poisoning-a toxic condition produced by ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds
  5. Steam Bath-sweat out liquid; You're put in a tub filled with jugs of hot water