An Alternate Timeline for Carl Maria von Weber's Health History Proposed

Katherine Buckler, Texas State University

Throughout our time, records on Carl Maria von Weber's life have reported the composer as having Tuberculosis either his entire life, being born with Bone Tuberculosis, or for a decade before his untimely demise (Kerner, 1967). New findings, using archival methods in conjunction with modern understandings of Tuberculosis, however, provide compelling evidence that this is not the case. Often overlooked, many of Carl Maria von Weber's early symptoms can be explained as a consequence of drinking nitric acid at age 19, leaving him with severe chemical burns in his throat and lungs that would result in Pulmonary Edema. In addition to Pulmonary Edema sharing strikingly similar symptoms to Tuberculosis, such as difficulty breathing and chest pain, it has been directly linked as a consequence to even inhaling mere fumes of the highly corrosive nitric acid (Sittig, 2007). Furthermore, the most prevalent symptom used in 19th century diagnosis of Tuberculosis, white sputum with blood, is additionally similar to one of the main symptoms of Pulmonary Edema, which causes frothy pink sputum. This poster seeks to present a new alternative timeline to the health of Carl Maria von Weber through his life, based on archival research and interviews with health professionals, cross referenced with his biographies and correspondences, to present the year his Tuberculosis began its post-primary stage, 1818, and to explain the years beforehand as tragic results from the consumption of nitric acid.