Screened as part of NZIFF 2007

Beethoven’s Hair 2005

Directed by Larry Weinstein

This splendidly imaginative doco traces a lock of Beethoven's hair from 19th-century Vienna to the present day, when modern forensics uncovers the truth about the composer's hearing and temperament.

Canada In Danish, English and German with English subtitles
84 minutes DigiBeta



Thomas Wallner


Horst Zeidler


David New


Ludwig van Beethoven


Nicky Guadagni


Aside from the glorious music, the star of this riveting musical detective story is a lock of hair, clipped from Beethoven’s recently deceased head in 1827 by his student Ferdinand Hiller. The film retraces the lock’s fascinating journey, before it was put up for auction at Sotheby’s 13 years ago and bought by a couple of avid collectors of Beethoven memorabilia. The new owners, with the unlikely names of Ira Brilliant and Che Guevara, then decide to have the hair analysed to try and find out the reasons for Beethoven’s deafness. The results were conclusive, and explain much about the composer’s health and temperament.

“Told in a splendidly imaginative manner, the narrative moves through the intriguing milieu of Vienna in the 19th century, to the terrible drama of the Second World War, and right up to the world of contemporary science and a sort of CSI forensics plot. Even if you have zero interest in Beethoven, the true story of what happened to that lock of hair is way stranger than fiction.” — John Doyle, The Globe and Mail