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Old 07-16-2017, 03:01 PM   #1
Megan
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Ludwig's Deafness

The onset of Beethoven's deafness may remain a mystery, but has variously been attributed to typhus, auto-immune disorders (such as systemic lupus erythematosus), and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake!
I didn't know he dunked his head in cold water!
But I was thinking another cause which hasn't been mentioned and may have contributed is the loudness of the piano , day in day out of his working on pieces and practicing, could have had some effect. I wonder if he suffered from tinnitus?
I have read that, Czech composer Smetana suffered from tinnitus in the latter part of his career.
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Old 07-16-2017, 07:41 PM   #2
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Yes Beethoven did suffer from tinnitus. I doubt that his piano practice could have caused his deafness, especially considering pianos were not as powerful as those of today and we don't have health warnings today on our pianos - it would be a great excuse for my pupils not to practice!!
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Old 08-10-2017, 03:01 PM   #3
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On Beethoven's deafness. I wonder if researchers have investigated every possible ailment that can lead to hearing loss? In my case, for instance, recent dramatic loss seems to stem from TMJ Syndrome/Disorder. Certainly it began to noticeably decline not terribly long before I was officially diagnosed with the disorder. It also heralded a marked increase in Tinnitus in my left ear. Before, tinnitus (both ears) was loud but to an extent ignore-able due to it being a steady ringing of sine-wave like frequencies which are "comfortably" above what I can actually hear, if that makes sense. Since contracting TMJ Disorder, the left hear now has an additional unsteady lowish range noise that sounds like a wobbly machine of some sort active in the distance, its sound somewhat muffled by intervening walls. This new sound is harder to ignore, and can bug me to no end, though I am becoming more accustomed to it. Thankfully, it is usually rather low volume and occasionally disappears.

I'm not suggesting that TMJ Syndrome lead to Beethoven's deafness. Only that it or another not yet considered (?) condition might at some point have contributed to it. (As a reminder, my Tinnitus (both ears) and first awareness of hearing loss (right ear only at the time) began following a specific non disease related incident during the mid 1960s.)

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Old 08-11-2017, 08:08 AM   #4
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I also wonder whether the onset Beethoven's deafness was caused by a few clips round the ears by his drunken father.
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Old 08-11-2017, 11:25 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Megan View Post
I also wonder whether the onset Beethoven's deafness was caused by a few clips round the ears by his drunken father.
It's possible I suppose, but I would have thought the damage would have been instant rather than progressive - in any case it must have hurt!! The strange thing is though that musically we would have been worse off if Beethoven had normal hearing, undoubtedly his creativity would have taken a different and perhaps more conventional path than he was forced to follow particularly in the late works.
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