Arts & Entertainment

Vienna’s House of Music explores impact of Beethoven’s deafness

Vienna, Aug 27 (EFE).- Vienna’s House of Music is taking visitors on an extraordinary journey via an interactive show that teaches the audience about the anguish musical genius Ludwig van Beethoven felt as a result of his deafness.

“Beethoven’s cochlea was incapable of transforming high-pitched sounds and his auditory nerve was completely atrophied, which would explain his difficulties in talking about it,” Elisabeth Albrecht, director of the museum’s music education team, tells Efe.

Through a series of interactive screens, the installation reveals how Beethoven would have heard thanks to hearing implants used by people with the same disease.

“Composing without being able to hear was something extraordinary that was only within his reach. When Beethoven died, Franz Schubert said that there was nothing left to do in classical music,” the expert adds.

Beethoven arrived in Vienna aged 22 to work with Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. He ended up staying for the rest of his life.

“Vienna allowed Beethoven to compose freely and without economic necessity. Archduke Rudolf of Habsburg personally made sure that Beethoven received everything he needed,” the curator adds.

Beethoven composed his best symphonies and pieces including Für Elise, Clair de Lune and Fidelio in Vienna.

The composer created his famous Ninth Symphony when he was completely deaf.

Researchers think the composer’s hearing problems may have been caused by a typhus infection he contracted in his youth.

Beethoven suffered from hearing problems from the age of 27 until his death at 56.

At the age of 32, he confessed his anguish in a letter addressed to his two brothers that he never posted and which has come to be known as the Heiligenstadt Testament.

The museum explains that the composer wrote his second and third symphonies shortly after penning the testament.

In just five years, the composer had lost the ability to perceive high frequencies of sound and, partially, the ability to communicate with other people.

“When he couldn’t hear anything anymore, Beethoven disassembled the legs of his piano to better feel the vibrations of the keys. He hugged the body of the piano to feel what he was playing,” he adds.EFE


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