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Science. DNA testing of Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair. They reveal secret family history and health issues

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Scientists analyzed several strands of Ludvig van Beethoven’s hair for DNA. The analysis not only gave insight into the health problems of the famous German composer, but also revealed the secret of his family.

A team of 29 scientists led by Dr Tristan Begg of the University of Cambridge initially analyzed eight locks of hair attributed to Beethoven. As it turned out, only five of them came from one person. ‘We concluded that these matching samples were almost certainly genuine,’ reported the peer-reviewed scientific journal Current Biology, where the researchers published their analysis on March 21. The researchers then proceeded to sequence the composer’s DNA.

A lock of Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair Reuters

SEE ALSO: Verdi’s house for sale. This is the end of a 20-year quarrel between the composer’s heirs

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Ludwig van Beethoven. What results from the analysis of the composer’s DNA

The analysis presented in the journal showed that he had a genetic predisposition to liver disease and suffered from it hepatitis B virus at least a few months before his death. According to scientists, it probably contributed to Beethoven’s death. At the same time, the researchers emphasized that as part of the conducted research, they did not find a genetic explanation for the musician’s hearing disorders and his gastrointestinal problems.

Questions about the cause of Beethoven’s death were asked shortly after his departure. In the last years of his life, the composer underwent twice jaundice – which is why for years it was believed that he died of cirrhosis. “Our main goal was to shed light on the health problems of Beethoven, known for his progressive hearing loss, which he began to face in his early twenties,” study co-author Prof. Johannes Krause from the Evolutionary Anthropology Institute of Max Planck in Leipzig in Germany. As he pointed out, the composer lost his hearing completely before 1818, i.e. nine years before his death.

Ludvig van Beethoven, portrait from the Meyers Konversations-Lexikon encyclopedia shutterstock_88369921Nick / Shutterstock

Creator’s DNA test famous symphonies brought yet another discovery. After comparing Beethoven’s genetic profile to that of his living relatives from Belgium, the researchers concluded that one of the composer’s male ancestors must have had a premarital affair that resulted in a child – evidenced by the lack of a matching chromosome in Beethoven’s hair samples. According to researchers, the affair may have occurred between Hendrik van Beethoven’s conception in 1572 and Beethoven’s conception in 1770. Hendrik was separated from the composer by about seven generations.

SEE ALSO: Record price for John Lennon’s hair

Main photo source: Reuters



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