Beethoven's Hair


The Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair 

The "Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair," which has been on continuous display for the last twelve years, has been removed from the Center's exhibits for an indefinite period as of January 26, 2017.

The Guevara Lock of Beethoven's hair was purchased at auction for £3,600 ($7,300 including commission) at Sotheby's, London, in December 1994 by four members of the American Beethoven Society: Dr. Alfredo Guevara, Mr. Ira Brilliant, Dr. Thomas Wendel, and Caroline Crummey. Mr. Brilliant, Dr. Wendel, and Mrs. Crummey then donated their portion to the Beethoven Center.

Dr. Guevara, the principal investor, donated a majority of his portion to the Center as well, and the lock is named in honor of this generous gift. In 2016, Dr. Guevara gave some strands from his portion for testing in the Beethoven Genome Project. Results from these tests have not yet been announced.

Beethoven's HairDescription of the Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair

The lock contains hair with three clearly observable colors: grey, white, and brown. The hairs range in length from 7-15 cm. (ca. 3-6 inches). Given that hair grows at an average rate of one-half inch per month, the hair cut from Beethoven's head on his death bed represents hair grown during the last 6-12 months of Beethoven's life.

Other locks of Beethoven's hair are located in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the University of Hartford, Connecticut; the British Library, London, Great Britian; the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna, Austria; the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Germany, and some private collections.

Beethoven's Hair by Russell Martin

For an extended history of the Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair, please consult the book Beethoven's Hair by Russell Martin (New York: Broadway Book, 2000), released on October 17, 2000 (ISBN 0-7679-0350-1). Martin's book recounts the riveting tale of the Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair and how it traveled from Beethoven to the Hiller family and then to Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War II, on to Sotheby's in London, and reached its final destination at the Beethoven Center in 1996. The book also reveals preliminary results of scientific testing on a few strands of the hair, including DNA and trace metal analysis.

Paperback copies of the book are still in print from Amazon and other online vendors.

Beethoven's Hair on film

A film version of Beethoven's Hair, produced for Canadian television by Rhombus Media in 2005, is available for purchase or rental from Bullfrog Films. It received five nominations for Gemini Awards (Canada's equivalent of the Emmy Awards) and won awards in three categories: sound, screenwriting (Thomas Wallner), and directing (Larry Weinstein).



Beethoven's Hair - Exhibit