Locks of Beethoven’s hair reveal health issues

Beethoven had a likely genetic predisposition to liver disease and a hepatitis B infection months before his death, tests have revealed, the BBC reports.

A team of researchers led by Cambridge University analysed five locks of hair to sequence the composer’s genome.

They were, however, unable to establish a definitive cause of his hearing loss.

Lead author, Tristan Begg, said genetic risk factors, coupled with Beethoven’s high alcohol consumption, may have contributed to his liver condition.

The international team analysed strands from eight locks of hair kept in public and private collections, in a bid to shed light on Beethoven’s health problems.

Five locks were deemed “authentic” by the researchers and came from a single European male.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770 and died at the age of 56 in Vienna, in 1827.

The prodigious composer and pianist suffered progressive hearing loss, which began in his mid to late 20s and led to him being functionally deaf by 1818.

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