Are the alleged remains of Johann Sebastian Bach authentic?

Med J Aust 2009; 190 (4): 213-216.
  • Richard H C Zegers1,2
  • Mario Maas1
  • A (Ton) G Koopman3
  • George J R Maat4

  • 1 Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 2 University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 3 Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • 4 Barge’s Anthropologica, Department of Anatomy, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Correspondence: r.h.zegers@amc.uva.nl


We thank the 12 church organists for their voluntary and enthusiastic cooperation, the hospitals that took their radiographs, and P J M van der Eerden, MD (Department of Radiology, Academic Hospital of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands) for commenting on the radiographs.

Competing interests:

None identified.

  • 1. His W. Anatomische Forschungen über Johann Sebastian Bach’s Gebeine und Antlitz nebst bemerkungen über dessen Bilder. Des XXII Bandes der Abhandlungen der mathematisch-physischen Classer der Königl. Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften. Leipzig: Hirzel, 1895.
  • 2. His W. Johann Sebastian Bach. Forschungen über dessen Grabstätte, Gebeine und Antlitz. Bericht an den Rath der Stadt Leipzig. Leipzig: Vogel, 1895.
  • 3. Rosenthal W. Die Identifizierung der Gebeine Johann Sebastian Bachs. Mit Bermerkungen über die “Organistenkrankheit”. Mitteilungen der Deutschen Akademie der Naturforscher. Leopoldina 1962/1963; 8/9: 235-241.
  • 4. Wustmann G. Bach’s Grab. Grenzbote 1894; 42: 117-126.
  • 5. Wustmann G. Die Auffindung der Gebeine Johann Sebastian Bachs. Grenzbote 1895; 54: 415-425.
  • 6. Ulrich H. Johann Sebastian Bach. Ein historisches Rekonstruktionsverfahren auf dem Schädel. In: Schädel-Schicksale historischer Persönlichkeiten. Komponisten und Maler. München: Dr Friedrich Pfeil, 2004: 19-26.
  • 7. Leopold D, Hammer HJ. Which picture characterizes JS Bach best? Craniofacial superimposition as a method of comparing the feature of the skull. Fingerprint Whorld 1989; 15: 61-63.
  • 8. Kennedy KA. Skeletal markers of occupational stress. In: Iscan MY, Kennedy KA, editors. Reconstruction of life from the skeleton. New York: Alan R Liss Inc, 1989: 129-160.
  • 9. Rogers J, Waldron T. A field guide to joint disease in archaeology. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 1994: 20-25.
  • 10. Dreiling SA. Pompöser Leichenzug zur schlichten Grabstätte. Die vergessenen Toten im Gruftgewölbe der Hamburger St Michaelis-Kirche 1762-1813. Hamburg: Medien-Verlag, 2006.
  • 11. Benjamin M, Toumi H, Ralphs JR, et al. Where tendons and ligaments meet bone: attachment sites (“entheses”) in relation to exercise and/or mechanical load. J Anat 2006; 208: 471-490.
  • 12. Kubba AK, Young M. Ludwig van Beethoven: a medical biography. Lancet 1996; 347: 167-170.
  • 13. Nelson LA, Michael SD. The application of volume deformation to three-dimensional facial reconstruction: a comparison with previous techniques. Forensic Sci Int 1998; 94: 167-181.
  • 14. Maat GJ. Facial reconstruction. A review and comment. Talanta 1998-1999; 30-31: 247-253.
  • 15. Stephan CN, Henneberg M. Recognition by forensic facial approximation: case specific examples and empirical tests. Forensic Sci Int 2006; 156: 182-191.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article