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Located at San Jose State University, the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is the only institution in North American dedicated to the study of Beethoven. Among the center's holdings is a lock of the composer's hair.


  • The Guevara lock
  • A copy of Beethoven's death mask in the possession of the Brilliant Center

On the fifth floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University is one of the world's most precious collections of musical history. The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is home to the largest collection of Beethoven materials outside of Europe.

In addition to being an acclaimed research library, the Brilliant Center is also a repository of a number of fascinating--if somewhat morbid--materials related to Beethoven. The center holds first editions of numerous works by Beethoven, as well as examples of his handwriting. Additionally, the center owns the Guevara Lock, a lock of the composer's hair taken the day after he died, as well as pieces of the composer's skull which were removed during his 1863 exhumation. Both the hair and the bone fragments have been tested and scholars are confident that they both belonged to Beethoven.

The center opened in 1985 and is the result of a gift by Arizona real estate developer, Ira F. Brilliant, believed to have had the finest private collection of Beethoven memorabilia. 


"Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University website http://www.sjsu.edu/beethoven/ Retrieved 7 June 2017.