Date: 01 Jul 2008

Syphilis in composers and musicians—Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Schubert, Schumann, Smetana

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Abstract

In the pre-antibiotics era, syphilis was an extremely common disease. The first well-recorded European outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in 1494, when it appeared among French troops besieging Naples. Thereafter, the disease spread all over Europe and, in the 18th and 19th centuries, many artists became victims of syphilis, among them poets, painters, philosophers, and musicians and composers. This review presents biographies of several musicians and composers that probably suffered from syphilis.