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'Was Beethoven Black?': Bizarre post claims composer was African, Internet says 'history is being whitewashed'

According to a picture being circulated on the internet, Beethoven may have been a black man and not the white man we have seen in his portraits
Ludwig van Beethoven (Three Lions/Getty Images)
Ludwig van Beethoven (Three Lions/Getty Images)

There is no dearth of bizarre theories on the Internet. The latest one to hop onto the bandwagon is none other than a theory about the greatest composer of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven. We all know Beethoven as the famous German composer and the mastermind behind several popular classical musical pieces like '5th Symphony', 'Moonlight Sonata', etc, among many others. According to a picture being circulated on the internet, Beethoven may have been a black man and not the white man we have seen in his portraits.

Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, to Johann van Beethoven and  Maria Magdalena Keverich. The prefix van before Beethoven hints at the family's Flemish heritage, while the family surname Beethoven suggests that the family was involved with beetroot farming at some point. This is often coupled with descriptions of Beethoven being nicknamed “Spaniard” or “Moor” because of his dark complexion and certain portraits of the composer which show him with very dark skin.

A screenshot from a website called The Concordian claims that Beethoven was actually a black man. It says, "Ludwig van Beethoven was of African descent, and the truth of his ethnic origins was covered up through a mixture of white powder worn on his face when out in public, the use of body doubles for portrait and “euro-centric” historians, hiding the truth of his genetic heritage." Soon, Beethoven became a trending topic on Twitter, with users thrashing the education system for withholding this key piece of information from them and slamming the historians for "whitewashing" the history.

A user tweeted, "Wait was beethoven black and our f***ing history books really tried to make him white. is this a joke or like is it a conspiracy type sh*t OR IS THIS ACTUALLY REAL BC I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED." Another user wrote, "I was today years old when i found out that Beethoven possibly wasn’t white and historical accounts stating that he was dark skinned and may have possibly been black!! Go figure they white washed history and his portraits."

German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827). Original Artwork: Engraving after painting by Kloeber (Getty Images)

Accusations of history being whitewashing were flying fast on social media. "Oh f*ck no! I'm burning sh*t down. Ludwig van Beethoven, the musical genius, was really black and this whole time they tried to paint him as white? I'm tired of black people and history being erased and whitewashed," said one. Another echoed these thoughts saying: "White historians continue to prove how gross they are,,,, they literally tried to paint one of the best known musicians as a caucasian and made us believe for years that he was white when beethoven was black... white people tryna whitewash history again."

Another user jokingly wondered, "Well damn . was he really even deaf? i’m about to do my research." "Beethoven being black is wild, let me learn how to play piano right quick and tap into my heritage," joked another user.  Unable to believe what the Internet has been telling them, some users made their sentiments known saying: "Beethoven being black was not the plot twist i expected this year."

There are also those that claim that one can find traces of African music in Beethoven's piano sonatas. In an effort to reveal the alleged intended rhythmic identity of Beethoven’s music, an album, Beethoven was African – Polyrhythmic Piano Sonatas, is available, with artificially computer-generated performances of the African infused interpretations of Beethoven’s Sonatas.