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Legendary Musical Drunks: Ludwig Van Beethoven

ludwig van beethoven Legendary Musical Drunks: Ludwig Van BeethovenBeethoven: Classical Musical Genius, Alcoholic, Abusive, Paranoid

By Matt Goldstein

The iconic German born classical composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, was a drunken mess and social wrench.  Famous for his legendary and pioneering classical music compositions such as the 5th and 9th symphonies, the deaf pianist Beethoven drank heavily and drank every single day.  Mostly drunk on wine and religiously attending the local tavern, Beethoven showed the classic signs of alcoholism.  Having an alcoholic father and an alcoholic grandmother on his mother’s side, Beethoven also suffered from cirrhosis of the liver.  Beethoven was very difficult to get along with socially.  Mostly drunk, Beethoven was notoriously mean, abusive and suspicious of everyone.  Beethoven hated all of his servants, and thought most of them stole from him and thought some were even plotting against his life.  It was the same for his business partners; Beethoven thought all of them were out to get him and steal his money.  His mood swings are mostly attributed to a drunken state and the paranoia would soon follow.  Friends and family were treated just the same, abused and distrusted.  An infamous womanizer, Beethoven also moved 71 times, indicative of an alcoholic.  Yes, a consistent trait of alcoholism is the need to constantly change residence, perhaps running from their problems or chasing a cure from their ills, be it social or physical.    

There are many suspicions to Beethoven’s cause of death but cirrhosis of the liver was definitely a possibility.  Alcoholism could have been Beethoven’s eventual downfall.  Beethoven died on March 29th in 1827 in Vienna Austria at the age of 56.  Although an alcoholic, Beethoven is one of the most influential musicians of all time with an immeasurable impact upon the world.                       



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2 comments to Legendary Musical Drunks: Ludwig Van Beethoven

  • Howard

    He had to drink to write the greatest classical music ever scored.


    Matt Goldstein Reply:

    There’s no question that Beethoven wrote his symphonies while he was drunk.


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