On this day in 1827, Ludwig Van Beethoven died at age 56. Much controversy surrounds his manner of death: alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, sarcoidosis, infectious hepatitis, Whipple’s disease, and lead poisoning have all been suggested. His autopsy would show serious damage to the liver, which most likely was caused by years of alcohol abuse.
Bed ridden for his remaining months, friends would visit often. It is said by his close friend, Anselm Huttenbrenner, who was with Beethoven when he passed, that there was a “peal of thunder at the moment of death”. Beethoven did pass during a violent thunderstorm.
His funeral was held on March 29, 1827 at the parish church in Alsergrund. He was buried in the Wahring cemetery, northwest of Vienna. Theatres were closed that day and many famous artists attended, as well as participated in the funeral as pallbearers and torch bearers. It is said that somewhere between 10,000 to 30,000 bystanders were lining the streets.