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Beethoven for the Deaf

A Hungarian orchestra is helping deaf people to “hear” and enjoy the music of Beethoven through touch.

Budapest’s Danubia Orchestra Óbuda holds concerts for hearing-impaired people who quite literally feel the Fifth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. The German composer famously battled with hearing loss and astonishingly wrote some of his greatest music while going deaf.

Some of the audience sit next to the musicians and place their hands on the instruments to feel the vibration. Others hold balloons that convey the vibration of the sounds. Some are given special hyper-sensitive hearing aids.

“When I sat next to the musician who played the double bass, I started crying,” says Zsuzsanna Foldi, who has been deaf all her life.

Máté Hámori, the orchestra’s conductor, says the aim is to bring music to people who otherwise have no chance to enjoy it, and to call attention to hearing difficulties that are often ignored.

“So the idea was to somehow lure those who are the most capable of sympathising with Beethoven and his own suffering into the world of music,” Hamori said. Beethoven’s hearing gradually deteriorated and he wrote the Fifth Symphony already with his hearing impaired in 1804-1808.


Smart Glove Translates: New smart glove translates sign language directly into speech. The inventors believe the innovation could allow for easier communication for deaf people.

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