Beethoven was able to hear out when he composed his final masterpiece

Beethoven was able to hear out of his left ear when he composed his final masterpiece expert claims, despite widely held belief that he was deaf by 44

  • Ludwig van Beethoven continued to write music despite suffering from tinnitus
  • He could ‘could still hear something’ in 1824 , three years before his death at 56 
  • The legendary pianist composed Ninth Symphony while suffering with it 
  • Professor Albrecht found 23 references to hearing in Beethoven’s notebooks 
  • The revelation will send everyone ‘scurrying to revise biographical concepts’

He was believed to have composed his final masterpiece while completely deaf. But an expert claims Ludwig van Beethoven could in fact hear out of his left ear.

Theodore Albrecht says contemporary evidence contradicts the widely held opinion that the composer was profoundly deaf by the age of 44.

Instead, the professor of musicology says scribbled-down conversations from Beethoven’s later years suggest he ‘could still hear something’ in 1824 – three years before his death aged 56.

Genius: Beethoven suffered from tinnitus. By 1798 his hearing was still going despite the common thought that he was totally deaf by the age of 44 in 1814, according to Theodore Albrecht

Professor Albrecht, from Kent State University in the US, told The Observer: ‘This is going to send everybody scurrying to revise biographical concepts.’

Beethoven established himself as a virtuoso pianist in his twenties and composed his first symphony aged 31. But by 1798 his hearing was going and he was thought to be almost totally deaf by the age of 44 in 1814.

Yet, despite also suffering from tinnitus, he continued to write music – including the Ninth Symphony, in 1824.

Despite suffering with the ringing in his ears, it is thought that he conducted the Ninth Symphony masterpiece during this period in 1824. Pictured is a mural graffiti of the legendary pianist in Bonn, Germany

Legend has it that he conducted the masterpiece at its premiere despite being unable to hear the singers, orchestra or applause at its finale.

However, Professor Albrecht believes he has uncovered evidence that suggests Beethoven did not lose his hearing ‘to the very profound depths’ that musicologists had once assumed.

The virtuoso pianist continued to compose (pictured) while suffering with the ringing in his ears, scribblings from his notebook have revealed. Mr Albrecht found 23 references to the subject of hearing, and estimates that others will show ‘he could still hear something’

The academic has translated 139 booklets containing conversations between the composer and his companions from 1818 until his death in 1827. As his hearing worsened, Beethoven asked people to jot down conversations in notebooks.

Professor Albrecht said he has found 23 references to the subject of hearing, and estimates that others will show ‘he could still hear something’.

One key passage from 1823 reveals that he could in fact hear out of his left ear to some extent as it was ‘fairly preserved’. Professor Albrecht said: ‘Not only was Beethoven not completely deaf at the premiere of his Ninth Symphony in May 1824, he could hear, although increasingly faintly, for at least two years afterwards.’

 

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