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Did Beethoven's Hearing Loss Shape His Compositions?
Date:12/21/2011

"the most interesting issue is the composition of some of our most wonderful music in the absence of hearing," Balkany said.

Dr. Guy Petruzzelli, vice chair of otolaryngology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said that Beethoven likely had a form of progressive congenital hearing loss. "This is a really fascinating article," he said. "Originally, Beethoven's hearing was OK and then he began to experience high-frequency hearing loss so he began to use lower tones more and more often that he could hear."

The message is clear, Petruzzelli noted. "We shouldn't be limited in terms of what we aspire to be or do based on our physical limitations," he said.

More information

For more information on how humans hear, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

SOURCES: Guy Petruzzelli, M.D., professor and vice chair, otolaryngology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Thomas J. Balkany, M.D., professor and director, University of Miami Ear Institute, Miami; Edoardo Saccenti, postdoctoral research fellow, Biosystems Data Analysis Group, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam; Dec. 20, 2011, BMJ, online


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