Lock of Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair
At the time of Ludwig van Beethoven’s (ca. 1770–1827) death in 1827, mourners frequently snipped hair from their loved ones and from celebrities as mementos. Beethoven’s hair possessed particular iconic value as a visible manifestation of the “untamed” creativity that distinguished his compositions and piano playing. We know of at least five parties who cut locks of his hair. According to one source, visitors began to do so two days before Beethoven actually died.
The lock of hair now in the Library’s collection most likely belonged to the Beethoven Association, a New York City society that held Beethoven-themed concerts from 1918 to 1940 and collected important editions of the composer’s works. When the association dissolved, its collection came to the Library’s Music Division.
Currently on View at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
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