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Prog Brain Res. 2015;216:305-16. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.012. Epub 2015 Jan 20.

Georg Friedrich Händel: a case of large vessel disease with complications in the eighteenth century.

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Department of Neurology, Klinikum Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany. Electronic address:


Georg Friedrich Händel was not only one of the greatest musical giants ever but also he was probably the first composer who was also the manager and promoter of his own works. Various myths embellish his various biographies. This is also true for his pathography: several articles written by authors from various specialties suggested him having suffered from psychiatric diseases, like cyclothymia or mania, and rheumatologic disorders, like arthritis, while others tended to interpret his recurrent palsies as typical sequelae of ischemic strokes. More recently, reports proposing lead poisoning as the main source of disease in Händel gained the attention of musical and lay press. During his last years of life, Händel was struck with blindness, which in his era had been interpreted as being due to cataracts. This led to three "coucher" operations, all of them without any lasting effect. Although a definite diagnosis cannot be proven from the original sources, the most plausible explanation for Händel's palsies and visual impairment may be based on one single context, i.e., cerebrovascular disease. The possible differential diagnosis will be discussed in this chapter.


Georg Friedrich Händel; blindness; carotid stenosis; cerebrovascular disease; stroke

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