I found this book in the Book festival, and it is quite an interesting topic, of which I had never heard before. Since I love a real life mystery, it was a must for me. It seems that when Beethoven died in March 1827, the fifteen-year-old musical protégé Ferdinand Hiller was in Vienna, visiting the composer together with his instructor Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Hiller later wrote:
"He lay, weak and miserable, sighing deeply at intervals. Not a word fell from his lips; sweat stood out on his forehead. His handkerchief not being conveniently at hand, Hummel's wife took her fine cambric handkerchief and dried his face again and again. Never shall I forget the grateful glance with which his broken eyes looked upon her."Three days later Beethoven died and a day later they went back to pay their respect.
"The two did not remain for long beside the coffin, but before they left, young Hiller asked his teacher if he could cut a lok of the master composer's hair. …Hummel quietly whispered yes to his student, and the two of them were moved by the deep sadness of the moment. Ferdinand Hiller took the scissors he had brought with him, lifted a small lock of Beethoven's long half-gray hair, pulled it away from his head, and cut it free."This is the story of how the hair travelled through the Hiller family in Germany, through the Second World War and Denmark and ended up in the United States with two Beethoven enthusiasts, Dr Alfredo "Che" Guevara and Ira Brilliant. Circumstances made them find a note in Sotheby's catalogue about the sale of a lock of Beethoven's hair. They used part of it to make forensic tests to find out what ailed Beethoven.