Study: Beethoven’s increasing deafness affected his style

Posted on: December 22, 2011

A report Wednesday (12/21) on the BBC News site states, “Composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s gradual deafness may have influenced his compositions, experts have announced. As his hearing got worse, he favoured lower and middle-range notes in his music, scientists have said in the British Medical Journal. An analysis of Beethoven’s music has found that once he became totally deaf, he began to use high notes again. Researchers say the findings explain Beethoven’s music, which has always been divided into three periods. … Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have found his early quartets (opus 18, 1798-1800) used a variety of high notes. Beethoven, who suffered from a severe form of tinnitus, first mentioned his hearing problems in 1801 in a letter to Franz Wegeler and Karl Amenda. … By 1810, when he composed the opus 74 and 95 quartets, the amount of high notes he used dropped significantly, tending towards lower frequency notes. But the higher registers increased again in 1825, when he wrote the late string quartets opus 127 to 135 and it was thought he had become completely deaf.”

Posted December 22, 2011