I’ve heard somebody mention this before, but even I didn’t believe it until I looked at the facts. It wouldn’t be the first time a black man’s identity was stolen by caucasian culture, you’ve heard of Jesus right? History is riddled with instances of stolen identity, especially in regards to black culture and accomplishments. When you do more research then a simple “was Beethoven black” search on google then it becomes pretty obvious that “one of the most recognized and influential of all composers” was in fact a black man. Luckily, I found an excellent source that has already provided layers of research to prove the point of Beethoven being a black man.
A good, best and possibly only place to start is, “100 Amazing Facts About The Negro (With Complete Proof)” by J.A. Rogers. He thoroughly breaks it down more than anyone else I’ve seen so far. Rogers was able to discover many scholarly references to Beethoven being a brown to dark brown skinned man.
The 8th “Amazing Fact” in the book is:
8. Beethoven, the world’s greatest musician , was without a doubt a dark mulatto. He was called “The Black Spaniard.” His teacher, the immortal Joseph Haydn, who wrote the music for the former Austrian National Anthem, was colored, too.J.A. Rogers
Ok, so that’s the claim, that Beethoven is black. How does he prove it?
J.A Rogers explains:
“Frederick Hertz, German anthropologist, in “Race and Civilization,” refers twice to Beethoven’s “Negroid traits” and his “dark” skin, and “flat, thick nose.” (pp.123 and 178.)
Frau Fischer, an intimate acquaintance of Beethoven, describes him thus, “Short, stocky, broad shoulders, short neck, round nose, blackish-brown complexion.” (From R.H. Schauffler, The Man Who Freed Music, Vol. 1, p.18, 1929.)
In speaking of the immortal Haydn who was Beethoven’s teacher, Andre de Hevesy, says: “Everybody knows the incident at Kismarton or Eisenstadt, the residence of Prince Esterhazy. In the middle of the first allegro of Haydn’s symphony, His Highness asked the name of the author. He was brought forward.
“What!’ exclaimed the prince, ‘the music is by this blackamoor? ‘Well, my fine blackamoor, henceforward, thou art in my service.'”
Carpani, who originally related this says that “Haydn’s complexion gave room for sarcasm.” And that Haydn had the title of “second professor of music but his new comrades called him the Moor.” (G. Carpani: Le Haydine, etc. Letter 5. Milan, 1812.)
Referring to the above incident, Alexander W. Thayer, perhaps the foremost authority on Beethoven, says, “Beethoven had even more of the moor in his features than his master, “Negro”. Until recent times the German for “Negro” was “Mohr.”
Paul Bekker, another very noted authority on Beethoven, says that “the most faithful picture of Beethoven’s head” shows hime with “wide, thick-lipped mouth, short, thick nose, and proudly arched forehead.” (Beethoven, p. 41, 1925. trans. Bozman). Thayer adds that Beethoven was an ugly little man, and no one would be more astonished than the great composer should he return and see how he has been idealized by sculptors and painters.
Beethoven’s family originated in Belgium, which had been ruled for centuries by the Spaniards, who had large numbers of Negro soldiers in their army there. Theophile Gautier speaks of a Belgian type characterized by brown skin and dark hair “a second race which the soldiers of the Spanish Duke of Alva have sown between Brussels and Camrai.”
In short, the general description of Beethoven, even to his frizzly hair, fits that of many an Aframerican or West Indian mulatto. In the Southern States Beethoven would have been forced to ride in the Jim-crow car.”