Medical Pioneer. A brilliant gastroenterologist, he was the first surgeon on the world to achieve success against stomach cancer by removing part of the organ. After a few years in which he held the chair of surgery in Zurich, in 1867 he moved to Vienna, where he became chief surgeon of the II Surgical Clinic of the General Hospital and professor of surgery at the University. He was responsible for the first esophagectomy (1871) and the first laryngectomy (1873). He founded a school of surgery in Vienna and had numerous students from various countries, who then continued his studies ans his work. He also had a great passion for music, which he studied from an early age, and became a virtuoso of the piano and various string instruments. In Vienna he was a great friend of the famous critic Eduard Hanslick and Johannes Brahms. The latter, whose chamber compositions were often performed privately in Billroth's house, in 1873 dedicated to him the two quartets for strings opus 51, n. 1-2 (in C minor and A minor). Despite his precarious health conditions, on March 29, 1887 Billroth wanted to attend the first performance of Verdi's Othello at The Scala in Milan. The broad correspondence with Brahms allows us to appreciate his great culture and his profound humanity, as well as his ability to fully understand the compositions of the great musician, still handwritten, without having ever heard them yet.
Bio by: Marina Caracciolo