017 – Ludwig van Beethoven | His Finale

Travis Brown This Medical Life Ludwig van Beethoven podcast

This is the story of Ludwig van Beethoven’s death.

In 1770, in the small German town of Bonn, a child was born that would impact the world on a par with great emperors and conquerors. Yet, it was not with a sword or bloodshed but with imagination and composition. This man was Ludwig van Beethoven and his influence is possibly even more important today than when he was alive.

Ludwig was one of seven children but only three of them survived beyond infancy. Ludwig’s musical gifts were apparent at a very young age but he had an abusive and alcoholic father who demanded performances at any time he desired (often back from the pub with his similarly inebriated friends). At the age of 16, Ludwig’s mother died of tuberculosis. At the age of 21, his father died.

Beethoven’s life was beset with poor health including gastrointestinal problems and headaches. He was not fond of doctors but he loved his wine, his women and his music. Unfortunately, in his late twenties, Ludwig experienced progressive hearing loss which eventually led to complete deafness in his late 40’s and 50’s.

At the age of 56 years, on the 26 March 1827, Beethoven died. His final words ‘Pity, pity, too late’.