The “Seligmann Fragments” and Beethoven’s Physicians
About the exhibition
The Seligmann fragments, the presumed skull parts of Ludwig Van Beethoven, are being presented for the first time in the Josephinum in connection with Beethoven's doctors Johann Adam Schmidt and Johann Peter Frank.
“… as soon as I am dead if Dr. Schmidt is still alive ask him in my name to describe my malady and attach this document to the history of my illness so that so far as possible at least the world may become reconciled with me after my death.” Ludwig van Beethoven, Heiligenstädter Testament, 1802.
Beethoven, distraught over the progressive loss of his hearing, expressed a desire to inform posterity of his health ailments. 36 years after Beethoven's death, his mortal remains were reburied and medical examinations were carried out. In accordance with the cult of genius of the time, the composer’s skull in particular was examined. The physician Franz Romeo Seligmann was involved in this event. The pieces of skull bone, today called “Seligmann fragments,” are said to have come from Beethoven.
In July 2023, a descendant gifted the “Seligmann fragments” to the Collections of the Medical University of Vienna. They are the starting point for investigations into the authenticity of the bone fragments and, if necessary, the clarification of Beethoven’s illnesses. They are on public display at the Josephinum for the first time.