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Beethoven Reportedly Suffered From Rare Rheumatic Disorder

October 14, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ Ludwig van Beethoven, the composer who gradually went deaf, lost his hearing and died from a rare rheumatic disorder that is easily treated by modern medicine, a doctor was quoted Sunday as saying.

The theory challenges previous claims that the German composer’s deafness was caused by syphilis and that he died from liver failure brought on by alcoholism, the Sunday Times said in reporting the findings.

The newspaper said Dr. Tom Palferman, a rheumatologist and amateur cellist, has spent 10 years sifting through Beethoven’s private letters and autopsy reports to arrive at his diagnosis. It said his findings will be published in the Royal Journal of Medicine this month.

″I approached the problem as if Beethoven was one of my own patients,″ Palferman told the newspaper.

His theory is that Beethoven died of sarcoidosis, which affects hearing and eventually destroys the liver, the newspaper said. The doctor believes Beethoven could have been treated with modern steroids and his life saved by a liver transplant.

The composer lived from 1770 to 1827.

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