Deaf Jams: How Beethoven Was Able To Hear His Final Symphony

"Did you know that Beethoven was deaf?" The words tumble from the mouths of every elementary school music teacher in the world, building, one upon the other, into a glorious symphony of Snapple Fact education. It's said that you can still hear the words echoing through the eons if you hold a plastic recorder up to your ear.

And now, 250 years after the composer's death, we find ourselves in the unenviable but all-too-common position of learning that everything we learned in school was dumb, as historian Theodore Albrecht has discovered evidence that Beethoven retained at least partial hearing in his left ear until shortly before he passed away.

Bliss and heaven

In an announcement equivalent to spitting in the mouths of everyone who ever cried during Mr. Holland's Opus, Albrecht, a professor of musicology at Kent State University, has revealed evidence that Ludwig van Beethoven could probably still hear out of his left ear through March of 1826. This means that the stern-faced German would have been able to experience his 9th Symphony, as well as his String Quartet in B-flat, OP 130.

The revelation comes courtesy of a series of written notes and letters from Beethoven himself, in which Albrecht claims to have uncovered "23 direct references to the subject of hearing," according to MSN. Albrecht made sure to point out that, although Beethoven still retained partial hearing, that "doesn't take away from the fact that this man did what he did in the face of overwhelming difficulty."

In his notes, which are currently being translated into English for the first time, the composer discussed his hearing loss and his patented life hacks for keeping what was left of his auditory senses: lots of baths, avoiding ear horns, and communicating via note so that your "hearing will be spared." This last piece of advice is why Albrecht has so much material to go off of. Current estimates point to a final published compendium of the writings stretching out over twelve volumes which, yes, will be available for purchase.