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Dry Bones
March 2, 2007 2:20 AM   Subscribe

Beethoven died from lead poisoning.
posted by sluglicker (41 comments total)

 
He shouldn't have kept sucking on the end of his pencil while he was thinking of the next bon note.
posted by chrismear at 2:25 AM on March 2, 2007


Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh Scientists Discover Biological Basis for Autism

In the arts, Jane Austen, Beethoven, Mozart and van Gogh also likely had autism.
posted by three blind mice at 2:49 AM on March 2, 2007


well i think it's quite obvious what this points to.

Murder
posted by cardamine at 3:18 AM on March 2, 2007


This is a work for Horatio Caine!

* put his glasses on *
posted by darkripper at 3:29 AM on March 2, 2007


I'm still alive, probably because I only have Best Supporting poisoning. Well, I think that's what it is, despite my doctor's insistence that it's only Special Guest Star on an 80s Sitcom poisoning. But what the fuck does he know? Motherfucker's been crazy with spirochetes all up in the brain since getting syphilis from Betty White when she was on Golden Girls.
posted by Eideteker at 3:40 AM on March 2, 2007


Funny thing his family having a piece of Beethoven's skull as a family heirloom. My family only had a chunk of Garibaldi's dog's hipbone in a little reliquary to pass on to me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:45 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


that's nuthin, i inherited a fragment of the true cross, and from close examination, it appears to me that jesus was nailed up on pressure-treated lumber.
posted by bruce at 4:04 AM on March 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Enough with the ObitFilter already!!
posted by knave at 4:04 AM on March 2, 2007


If the symptoms first appeared in his 20s, and fluctuating lead levels were found in a lock of his hair snipped at death, I assume he was ingesting lead on an occasional basis throughout his life. Can anyone suggest what the source of the lead might have been?
posted by Leon at 4:11 AM on March 2, 2007


You who else died from lead poisoning ... ?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:17 AM on March 2, 2007


Fishing weights. Little known fact: Beethoven was actually a fish.
posted by DU at 4:18 AM on March 2, 2007


Can anyone suggest what the source of the lead might have been?

Medicine, food additives, paint, and water run through lead pipes. Lead was everywhere, as we didn't fully understand how insidious lead poisoning was.
posted by eriko at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2007


KNOW (must. get. caffeine.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:22 AM on March 2, 2007


Or did he die from Led poisoning?


Rock on!
posted by tommasz at 4:42 AM on March 2, 2007


why is this best of the web?
posted by altolinguistic at 4:48 AM on March 2, 2007


I'm guessing there was some lead exposure during the preservation of his body for display during his funeral or some other type of faulty medication at the time. It is pretty much impossible to prove that this was a life-long thing.
posted by GavinR at 4:49 AM on March 2, 2007


I guess old Ludwig really needed to get the Led out.

(Apologies to Tommasz. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.)
posted by chinston at 5:07 AM on March 2, 2007


So, a report from 2005 and a press release from 2000? I mean, I realize that there was no real urgency since he's been dead for nearly 200 years, but why post about it now?
posted by Dave Faris at 5:10 AM on March 2, 2007


.
posted by Mick at 5:20 AM on March 2, 2007


... _ ... _
posted by donpardo at 5:24 AM on March 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I blame Salieri.
posted by Optamystic at 5:38 AM on March 2, 2007


.

That movie was great, I really liked that dog.
posted by phirleh at 5:49 AM on March 2, 2007


Wait... he's DEAD?!

.
posted by Rubber Soul at 5:53 AM on March 2, 2007


Recently, scientists also tested the hair of Mama Cass. They found traces of ham.
posted by horsewithnoname at 6:16 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing there was some lead exposure during the preservation of his body for display during his funeral or some other type of faulty medication at the time. It is pretty much impossible to prove that this was a life-long thing.

Well, there's his hair. Lead levels fluctuate over the life of the person, and are deposited in different amounts in your hair as it grows. If you can spot different concentrations along the length of each individual hair, that's supporting evidence for chronic poisoning.
posted by xthlc at 6:19 AM on March 2, 2007


I had the same question as Leon and found an article, "Lead Poisoning in Historical Perspective" [pdf], that has this to say:

...lead was widely used both for industrial, domestic, and medicinal purposes. For example, lead acetate ("lead sugar") was used as a sweetener of wine and ciders, and it caused severe epidemics of poisoning. In some German countries the problem was so severe that death penalty was prescribed, first in 1498 and later in 1577, for those caught mixing lead sugar into wine. Also mixing lead compounds into (so called) medicinal preparations helped many patients to a better world more quickly than "normally." Industrially lead and its compounds gained more and more use at the beginning of the New Age, for example, in pottery, piping, shipbuilding, window making, the arms industry, pigments, and later book printing. Lead poisoning became a plague in Europe and later in America during the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries...In the beginning of the 18th century Ramazzini wrote that potters who worked with lead became "paralytic, splenetic, lethargic, cachectic, and toothless, so that one rarely sees a potter whose face is not cadaverous and has the color of lead."

Sir George Baker made an important observation in 1767. He understood that the so-called Devonshire colic, which had plagued the county for a century, was due to contamination of cider with lead. He showed that lead had dissolved from the weights used to crush the apples; hence he could prove that the etiology of the colic was lead poisoning, not stardust or eastern wind, as formerly believed.


GavinR: "I'm guessing there was some lead exposure during the preservation of his body...It is pretty much impossible to prove that this was a life-long thing."

From the 1st link: "In addition, the presence of lead in the skull suggests that his exposure to lead was not a recent event, but may have been present for many years." The half life of lead in the human body is about 22 years, with 95 percent of "old" lead residing in the skeletal structure.

From the 2nd link: The two hairs analyzed by McCrone and the six studied at Argonne’s APS Facility all exhibited unusually high levels of lead. As expected, there was a wide variation in lead concentration from hair to hair, especially along the length of a hair. This reflects the major fluctuations in blood lead levels, as lead is deposited into growing hair.
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on March 2, 2007


That explains the crazy hair.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:33 AM on March 2, 2007


Everyone had elevated levels of blood poisining then. Lead was used everywhere. People sprinkled in their wine to sweeten it.

This "explanation" of Beethoven's death has been common for a long time, and debated as long. There's no evidence that the lead killed him, just that it was there. Syphillis and cirrhosis of the liver are equally plausible explanations.
posted by argybarg at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2007


So, a report from 2005 and a press release from 2000? I mean, I realize that there was no real urgency since he's been dead for nearly 200 years, but why post about it now?

Seriously, what the fuck? This isn't news or the best of the web. Can you imagine what you could have put in a great post about Beethoven? It's not like there's a lack of links.
posted by agregoli at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2007


In the arts, Jane Austen, Beethoven, Mozart and van Gogh also likely had autism.

That's a good candidate for Stupidest Line on the Internet.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2007



So, a report from 2005 and a press release from 2000? I mean, I realize that there was no real urgency since he's been dead for nearly 200 years, but why post about it now?

why is this best of the web?

Enough with the ObitFilter already!!

Seems like we see these type of comments in more and more threads...why post now?why is this the best?and enough of this type of post. I am getting sick of it myself.

By the way...

What does a single "." in a post mean?


Eye roll and tongue click away.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 6:59 AM on March 2, 2007


BozoBurgerBonanza, you're skidding towards recursive bitching. Bitching about the bitching. But am I bitching about your bitching about the bitching? Hmm...maybe.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:19 AM on March 2, 2007


John Bonham died of zeppelin poisoning.

I'm here all week!
posted by Pastabagel at 7:58 AM on March 2, 2007


donpardo wins.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:43 AM on March 2, 2007


LED poisoning
posted by matteo at 10:07 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


> LED poisoning

Seriously.
posted by SteelyDuran at 11:01 AM on March 2, 2007


So, a report from 2005 and a press release from 2000? I mean, I realize that there was no real urgency since he's been dead for nearly 200 years, but why post about it now?

They're just building up for when they break the big news:

Mama Cass didn't even like ham.
posted by katillathehun at 12:47 PM on March 2, 2007


That's a good candidate for Stupidest Line on the Internet.

That's like the highest award that can be conferred upon online media, isn't it? I mean, along with Most Offensive.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2007


there was a great book on this 'beethoven's hair' which intermingled the hair analysis with the historical discussion - tracing the journey of a piece of Beethoven's hair from whereever he died (Vienna?), through Germany, through Nazi occupied Sweden, to Christies in London. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
posted by gnomesb at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2007


Fact sheet on the Guevara lock of Beethoven's hair. The Beethoven's Hair book's official site, with excerpt and interactive map.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 PM on March 2, 2007


Clearly lead makes you a genius. I have got to start eating that shit.
posted by stavrogin at 11:29 PM on March 2, 2007


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