Campus: San Jose State University -- November 17, 2005

Fragments From Beethoven's Skull Discovered In California Now On Loan At San Jose State

The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Josť State University today announced that two fragments of Beethoven's skull, which were kept back when his remains was exhumed in 1863 to preserve them in a new coffin, have been located in California and are now on long-term loan to the Center.

The skull fragments have been in the possession of the Seligmann-Kaufmann family since 1863. Danville residents Paul and Joan Kaufmann, who inherited the fragments from a relative, have been working with the director of the Beethoven Center, William Meredith, since 1999 to authenticate the fragments and undertake DNA and other scientific testing.

The fragments have been studied at the Argonne National Laboratory's APS facility in collaboration with the Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Illinois. Their findings are scheduled to be released next month.

Additionally, the Kaufmanns and Meredith have been working with a forensic laboratory that is trying to match DNA from the fragments with the mitochondrial DNA signature obtained from the Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair owned by the Center. DNA from strands of the lock of hair was obtained in 1999 by Dr. Marcia Eisenberg of LabCorp (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina).

Paul Kaufmann, whose parents were of Austrian and German birth, said, "Today, my parents and ancestors would be so very proud to know that we are pursuing the validation of the skull bones, with an additional goal of making them available for all to see in the future."

Meredith notes that the discovery of the fragments in California only 40 miles from the Beethoven Center "is another extraordinary development in the already remarkable story of the history of the fragments."

The Beethoven skull fragments were part of an inheritance that also included memorabilia and letters from the family of the great German poet and playwright Wolfgang von Goethe. This discovery is the main subject of the double issue of The Beethoven Journal (2005) that has just been published. A detailed discussion of the fragment's history and provenance is provided in the lead article, followed by reports on the first exhumation and the treatment and analysis of the skull in the 19th century. See http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/beethoven.

The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, located on the fifth floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at Fourth and San Fernando streets in San Josť, is the only research and study center in North America devoted to Beethoven. The Center, founded in 1983, is supported by San Josť State University and the American Beethoven Society.

Contact: Nancy L. Stake at 408-924-1166
William Meredith at 408-808-2056


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