By Russell Martin
Ludwig van Beethoven lay death in 1827, a tender musician named Ferdinand Hiller got here to pay his respects to the nice composer. In these days, it was once general to snip a lock of hair as a memento, and this Hiller did an afternoon after Beethoven's dying. by the point he was once buried, Beethoven's head have been approximately shorn by way of the numerous those who equally had sought after a long-lasting keepsake of the nice guy. Such used to be his strong impact on all those that had heard his music.For a century, the lock of hair was once a precious Hiller relatives relic, and maybe was once destined to finish up sequestered in a financial institution vault, until eventually it one way or the other discovered its method to the city of Gilleleje, in Nazi-occupied Denmark, throughout the darkest days of the second one global warfare. There, it was once given to an area physician, Kay Fremming, who used to be deeply fascinated by the hassle to aid store enormous quantities of hunted and worried Jews. Who gave him the hair, and why? And what was once the destiny of these refugees, holed up within the attic of Gilleleje's church?After Fremming's demise, his daughter assumed possession of the lock, and finally consigned it on the market at Sotheby's, the place American Beethoven fans, Ira terrific and Che Guevara, bought it in 1994. accordingly, they and others instituted a sequence of complicated forensic checks within the wish of discovering the possible factors of the composer's chronically undesirable health and wellbeing, his deafness, and the ultimate dying that Ferdinand Hiller had witnessed all these years in the past. the implications, printed for the 1st time the following, are startling, and are the main compelling rationalization but provided for why one of many most efficient musicians the area has ever identified used to be compelled to spend a lot of his existence in silence.In Beethoven's Hair, Russell Martin has created a wealthy ancient treasure hunt, an Indiana Jones-like story of fake leads, outstanding breakthroughs, and exceptional revelations. This special and interesting publication is a relocating testomony to the ability of track, the trap of relics, the heroism of the Resistance stream, and the brilliance of molecular science.An magnificent story of 1 lock of hair and its remarkable travels--from nineteenth-century Vienna to twenty-first-century the United States.
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Extra info for Beethoven's Hair: An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved
A lot o f w a t e r will flow d o w n the R h i n e b e f o r e a J e w is g i v e n a fine f u n e r a l in G e r m a n y . I f i n d t h e p o l i t ical a n d r e l i g i o u s c i r c u m s t a n c e s e v e r y w h e r e t o b e w o r t h y o f the strongest criticism," he w r o t e to aging J e w i s h theologian Berthold Auerbach shortly before Auerbach's death. "I w o n d e r w h e t h e r y o u a n d I w i l l r e a l l y miss t a k i n g p a r t i n t h e n e x t fifty y e a r s . I d o n ' t t h i n k so.
H e b e g a n o n e m o r e p r o j e c t , a series o f essays h e h o p e d t o title Letters from the Sick Room, b u t s o o n his failing h e a l t h p r e c l u d e d it. "You w a n t to k n o w h o w I ' m doing," he scribbled in response to an i n q u i r y from friend and fellow c o m p o s e r Carl R e i n e c k e . " T h i s i s h a r d t o a n s w e r . I eat, s l e e p , e v e n c o m p o s e a little, b u t i n b e t w e e n I a m p l a g u e d b y s u c h m i s e r y t h a t I basically h a v e little j o y left i n life.
Liszt a n d t h e racist W a g n e r r e m a i n e d a m o n g t h e q u i c k , a n d a l t h o u g h Liszt l a m e l y i n s i s t e d t h a t t h e a n t i - S e m i t i c beliefs a t t r i b u t e d t o h i m h a d b e e n i n s e r t e d i n t o h i s b o o k w i t h o u t his a p p r o v a l b y his l o n g t i m e m i s t r e s s V r i n c e s s C a r o l y n e o f S a y n Wittgenstein, and that he was a friend of m a n y J e w s , b o t h m e n p r e s e n t l y w e r e a s far f r o m H i l l e r ' s life a s h e c o u l d p u s h t h e m .