The voice of the voice went silent for ever – Prof. Hans Victor von Leden, MD, ScD, died on March 5, 2014, at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 95. Born in Breslau, Silesia, now Poland, November 20, 1918, he followed his father, a prominent Catholic physician who emigrated to the USA in the late 1930s for political reasons when realizing the threatening Nazi development in Germany. After medical graduation at Chicago’s Loyola University in 1941, he specialized in otolaryngology and plastic surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and worked as a throat specialist in Chicago. In 1961, von Leden and his wife, Mary Louise, moved to Los Angeles, where he became a professor at UCLA Medical School and opened his Institute of Laryngology and Voice Disorders. In 1966, he took over the Chair of Biocommunication at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Additionally, he worked as a consultant to the United States Navy, the Julliard School of Music, New York, and was member of the Honorary Staff of Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, and Curador of the Universidade Moderna, Portugal. Hans von Leden retired from his university work in 1985.
Care of the voice was the nucleus of all his professional life. Starting out from profound studies on physiology and pathophysiology of voice production including acoustic perspectives, he created a solid basis for a highest level clinical competence, and earned, very soon so, the nimbus of an outstanding expert, a go-to doctor for voice professionals of all kinds, be they singers, actors, attorneys, teachers, pastors, or politicians. Especially to be mentioned: his pioneering work in the field of microsurgery of the larynx to restore and to improve vocal function, to-day known as phonosurgery, a term coined by Hans von Leden himself together with Gottfried Arnold in 1963. His wide experience is documented in 21 medical and legal textbooks and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 149 original scientific articles, 13 scientific motion pictures, and numerous lectures at Universities in the United States and 26 foreign countries. Extended contributions to the cultural history of the voice are exceptional regarding the painstaking search for unique sources. To establish and to guarantee world-wide professional care of the voice, he founded the Committee on the Care of the Voice in the frame of the International Federation of Otorhinolaryngological Societies (IFOS) and the Collegium Medicorum Theatri (CoMeT), both successfully active since 1969 up to the present. Quite a number of other national and international scientific as well as professional organizations have drawn substantial benefit from Hans von Leden’s thoughtful cooperation. 18 medical and scientific associations elected him an honorary member, accompanied by 36 national and international awards for contributions to medicine and science, decorations and orders from the United States, The Holy See, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Mexico, New Zealand, etc. Coming from Berlin, I can take pride in mentioning that our friend also received the Honorary Membership of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohrenheilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie e.V., the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Phoniatrie und Pädaudiologie, and the Gutzmann-Medal.
The voice community is bowing to Hans von Leden in admiration of his outstanding scientific, medical, and professional merits. Over and above: As a member, Grand Hospitaller and Grand Prior, of the international Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and the national Grand Priory of America, he personified – so we can read in an obituary notice of that order – the quintessential Knight and lived his life by the code of Chivalry. More than 40 years of his life were dedicated to the charitable programs of the order. “Through his dynamic leadership, his tireless devotion, and his genuine compassion, the Chivalric community and our world at large shine a little brighter. In honor of this great man and his immeasurable achievements, it is up to us to perpetuate his memory across the spans of time.”
What can be added?
Requiescat in pace.
Jürgen Wendler, Berlin