Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of jrsocmedLink to Publisher's site
J R Soc Med. 1993 March; 86(3): 159–161.
PMCID: PMC1293908

Beethoven's nephropathy and death: discussion paper.


The autopsy description of Beethoven's nephropathy is so typical of renal papillary necrosis, that the diagnosis is as near to certain as is possible, in the absence of a histological examination. A review of the symptoms and clinical course of Beethoven's final illness is consistent with this diagnosis. It is proposed that the cause was an acute onset diabetes mellitus, complicating chronic pancreatitis. Beethoven's case appears to be the first report in the literature of an autopsy proven case of renal papillary necrosis.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (684K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Davies PJ. Beethoven's deafness: a new theory. Med J Aust. 1988 Dec 5;149(11-12):644–649. [PubMed]
  • LINDVALL N. Renal papillary necrosis. A roentgenographic study of 155 cases. Acta Radiol Suppl. 1960;192:1–153. [PubMed]
  • LONDON SJ. BEETHOVEN: CASE REPORT OF A TITAN'S LAST CRISIS. Arch Intern Med. 1964 Mar;113:442–448. [PubMed]
  • Palferman TG. Classical notes: Beethoven's medical history. Variations on a rheumatological theme. J R Soc Med. 1990 Oct;83(10):640–645. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • LAULER DP, SCHREINER GE, DAVID A. Renal medullary necrosis. Am J Med. 1960 Jul;29:132–156. [PubMed]
  • HULTENGREN N. Renal papillary necrosis. A clinical study of 103 cases. Acta Chir Scand Suppl. 1961;Suppl 277:1–84. [PubMed]
  • MANDEL EE. Renal medullary necrosis. Am J Med. 1952 Sep;13(3):322–327. [PubMed]
  • SPUHLER O, ZOLLINGER HU. Die chronisch-interstitielle Nephritis. Z Klin Med. 1953;151(1):1–50. [PubMed]
  • Dubach UC, Rosner B, Pfister E. Epidemiologic study of abuse of analgesics containing phenacetin. Renal morbidity and mortality (1968-1979). N Engl J Med. 1983 Feb 17;308(7):357–362. [PubMed]
  • Kincaid-Smith P. Analgesic nephropathy. Aust N Z J Med. 1988 May;18(3):251–254. [PubMed]
  • Larkin E. Beethoven's illness-a likely diagnosis. Proc R Soc Med. 1971 May;64(5):493–496. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press