Syphilis in composers and musicians—Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Schubert, Schumann, Smetana

  title={Syphilis in composers and musicians—Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Schubert, Schumann, Smetana},
  author={Cola Franzen},
  journal={European Journal of Clinical Microbiology \& Infectious Diseases},
  • C. Franzen
  • Published 1 July 2008
  • Art, Medicine
  • European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
In the pre-antibiotics era, syphilis was an extremely common disease. The first well-recorded European outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in 1494, when it appeared among French troops besieging Naples. Thereafter, the disease spread all over Europe and, in the 18th and 19th centuries, many artists became victims of syphilis, among them poets, painters, philosophers, and musicians and composers. This review presents biographies of several musicians and composers that probably… 

The Heartfelt Music of Ludwig van Beethoven

This essay strengthens the hypothesis that Beethoven suffered from cardiac arrhythmias by placing his music in its historical context, and by identifying several compositions that may reflect beethoven’s experience of an arrhythmia.

Enfermedades que acompañaron a Beethoven durante su fructífera vida

Beethoven was a man who lived with his time; he suffered a number of diseases, but the deafness was the one that affected him the most, and the cause of death was confirmed.

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It can be argued that neurosyphilis was a major source of inspiration as well, being responsible for the genesis of musical masterpieces.

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Tertiary Syphilis (General Paralysis of the Insane) and Bipolar Disorder; the role of these two disorders in the life of famous composers.

The works of the classical composers Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Smetana, who all suffered from mental illness, are used to gain an insight into what it is like to live with these conditions.


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  • S. Oiseth
  • Medicine
    Journal of medical biography
  • 2017
Paget's disease, complicated by hyperparathyroidism, gout, and attempts to find relief of symptoms through the use of alcohol, quinine, and possibly salicylates can explain virtually all of Beethoven's medical problems, some of which appear to have influenced his musical compositions.

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Given the increasing incidence of syphilis among the immunosuppressed patient population, recognition of atypical cutaneous manifestations is critical for adequate management.



How the mighty have fallen: fatal infectious diseases of divine composers.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Johannes Bap.(Born; Bonn, bap. 17 Dec 1770; Died; Vienna, 26 March 1827).

XV Beethoven's Deafness

Much of the greatest music which ever lifted the human spirit flowed from his pen and the most magnificent of this music Beethoven never heard.

Creativity and chronic disease. Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840).

  • P. Wolf
  • Medicine
    The Western journal of medicine
  • 2001
Judging from Paganini's physical appearance, the most likely cause of his flexible joints was Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and experts cannot determine from the composers' physical features alone which type Paganini inherited.

Deafness, dysesthesia, depression, diarrhea, dropsy, and death

The traditional explanation for Beethoven’s deafness has been otosclerosis, and his multisystem disease in later life has generally been ascribed to syphilis, alcoholism, or both, but a differential diagnosis involving irritable bowel syndrome, postdysenteric reactive arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cryptogenic cirrhosis, chronic autoimmune hepatitis, and sarcoidosis is proposed.

Robert Schumann.

Robert Schumann, one of the giants of early romantic music, was born in Saxony in 1810 and died in an asylum shortly after his 46th birthday in July 1856, considered most likely that he suffered from a major affective disorder, bipolar type.

Paganini. The riddle and connective tissue.

Largely self-taught as a violinist, Paganini developed his own technique, enabling him to perform unprecedented feats with dazzling perfection, and the fact that the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to master makes his accomplishments even more amazing.


  • S. London
  • Medicine
    Archives of internal medicine
  • 1964
The mere fact that a musician of such towering genius was, despite his deafness, able to create music which so profoundly affected his art has made him a proper target for otologists and psychiatrists.

Beethoven's Illness: Whipple's Disease Rather than Sarcoidosis?

  • O. Sharma
  • Medicine
    Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
  • 1994
An intriguing explanation implicating sarcoidosis as the root cause of Beethoven's many problems is proposed, however, a closer analysis of the course of the disease and organ involvement does not adequately support the diagnosis.

Beethoven's Deafness

  • B. Mccabe
  • Medicine
    The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology
  • 1958
The natural history of Beethoven's deafness, together with a judicious examination of pertinent necropsy findings, provides adequate evidence for a chronic, progressive perceptive deafness. Marked