If Beethoven died of lead poisoning, then its good enough for you

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 08:11.


Lots of people know that lead poisoning played a role in the fall of the Roman Empire (lead pipes) but in December 2005 it was learned that Beethoven died of lead poisoning - probably from a combination of pipes, lead seals on wine and documents, crystal, ceramics and paints - they started outlawing lead in Europe at the end of the 19th Century... it took America nearly a century longer...


From "Online NewsHour": An expert in forensic analysis talks about the detective work that solved the mystery of Ludwig van Beethoven's death.

JEFFREY BROWN: What we've long known about Ludwig van Beethoven: He made incredible music and he suffered through illness for much of his adult life. What hasn't been known is the nature of his illness, and what eventually killed him in 1827.

Today, through an unusual x-ray experiment done at the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory a team of scientists confirmed that Beethoven suffered from lead poisoning.

Here to tell us about it is the director of that project. William Walsh is an expert in forensic analysis and director of research at the Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Warrenville, Illinois.

And welcome to you. You used hair and bone samples, I understand, to do this work. How did they lead you to the findings about lead poisoning?

WILLIAM WALSH: Well, we had the major relics of Beethoven that still exist in the world, both the fragments his skull and hair samples. And we really didn't know what to expect going in.

But after we did very careful chemical analysis, we found that both samples which had come from different sources, they both were the only unusual thing was that they were both extraordinarily high in lead concentration.


great media to get the lead out

This is a great image. I can't wait to see it on nonprofit billboards all over town and in many many print publications! You go Norm!

If Beethoven died of lead poisoning, maybe the Cleveland Orchestra would do a benefit concert! Yikes!

GCLAC and Adcom came up with the PR campaign

No credit here for the great media campaign - that is a result of the hard work of the GCLAC, their Outreach and Advocacy Subcommittee and their vendor, Adcom - let me know whenever you see one of these billboards or buscards around town

Susan, you are a genius - Beethoven to spread awareness on lead

Okay - you win 15 minutes of fame for the best idea I've heard for raising awareness about lead eradication, and spreading culture at the same time. So for the rally at City Hall July 15th (tentative date) we need a Beethoven performance. But, no offense to the Cleveland Orchestra, we need an all urban Beethoven fest - who could we enlist for a fifth of B? All City Orchestra? Shaw High School Marching Band?

Not to say the Orchestra couldn't do their own things - how about donating a special Beethoven for the Brain performance and recording for CD sales, all to fund lead eradication in NEO. That would have huge global value and sales, all for good... could be their biggest seller ever.

beethoven and lead

The resaon to use the cleve orch is the moneyed audience that could pour thousands into the campaign if only they were aware of the issue. Next year's season is a good time to continue with this. Contact Gary Hanson or Franz Welser Most and ask them to consider an all Beethoven concert to benefit lead awareness/eradication in Cleveland. Don't deny the blue hairs an opportunity to join in here. That's wahere the bucks are.
Gotta run, but I will research the diverse orchestra that can play your pastoral symphony for ya...

How about masked oboe players on every corner

Can you imagine dozens of oboe and violin players on the corners around downtown playing Beethoven in sync - one for each county or something like that - put black masks over their heads - then they can be picked up by the marching jazz funeral, which I hope will have the Prayor Warriors and we should get a marhing band from Shaw and Cleveland schools. Everyone march to the Free Stamp and continue with some Philip Glass or invent something or all improvise - anyone want to try conducting this - add drums and steel drums and other instruments - anyone may drop in - all coming together on duh duh duh duh... probably the most recognized four notes in music... add dance

Peter Holmes is very active with the orchestra so I'll see if he can help with that.