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September 21, 1970

Beethoven's Deafness

Author Affiliations

Miami, Fla

JAMA. 1970;213(12):2082. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170380056024

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To the Editor.—  After reading the thorough article on Beethoven's deafness which covered it from every angle and point of view and eliminated most of the diseases and afflictions which might have been the cause of his deafness, nevertheless I feel that one important cause has not been considered.Young Beethoven had a very unhappy childhood. His father Johann, a singer in the Electoral Chapel at Bonn, was a chronic drunkard who earned little, drank a lot, and made his home sordid with drunken brawls. Yet, when the child Ludwig began to show an interest in music, his father was fired with ambition. He knew that Mozart as a child prodigy had brought in a great deal of money, so why not Ludwig? He enlisted his friend Tobias Pfeiffer to teach the boy piano. Without pity the greedy drink-crazed father forced the boy to play hour after hour. At times