Roll Over, Beethoven

10/23/1997 AT 12:00 AM EDT

Stop the presses: German musician Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the worlds first great composer for the piano, suffered from lead poisoning. Not a little lead poisoning, either, but 100 times the levels commonly found in people today, according to findings by researchers at Illinois Health Research Institute, where a lock of his hair was recently tested. "It was a surprise, but it stood out like a sore thumb in the analysis," William Walsh, director of the institute's Beethoven research project, told the Associated Press. Now scientists presumably know why Luddie behaved like an erratic genius.

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