Music Box – Hektoen International

Nicolo Paganini – a case of mercury poisoning?

Nicolo Paganini, the greatest violin virtuoso ever, was born in the Republic of Genoa in 1782. At age five he learned to play the mandolin and at seven the violin. When his city was invaded by the French revolutionary army in 1796 his family fled the city but later returned, and by age eighteen Paganini […]

Maurice Ravel’s neurologic disease

The French composer Maurice Ravel appears to have suffered from a localized neurological disease that spared higher brain functions but interfered with the basic activities of living. In neurological parlance this translates itself into loss of the ability to speak (aphasia), write (agraphia), read (alexia), or carry out complex brain directed movements or tasks (apraxia). […]

Sergei Rachmaninov, the pianist with very big hands

Sergei Rachmaninov, the famous Russian composer, pianist, and composer, was born in 1873 into a family that descended from the Moldavian prince Stephen the Great. At age four he began piano lessons and already displayed remarkable talent. He was sent to study music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory when ten years old, and, upon being […]

Alexander Borodin, the polymath who composed Prince Igor (1833-1887)

Alexander Borodin is remembered for his magnum opus, the great opera Prince Igor, which tells of the Kiev prince Igor Svyatoslavich fighting against the invading Turkic tribes known as Cumans, Kipchaks, or Polovtsians. He worked on the opera for seventeen years and left it unfinished because, in 1887, while attending a costumed ball, he slumped to […]

Visualizing Mozart

Vincent de Luise New Haven, Connecticut, United States     Figure 1. Portrait of Mozart by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange (©Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum) The music, life, and legacy of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart (Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, 1756-1791) continue to fascinate and enthrall.1,10,15,19, Footnote 1 Mozart has been the subject of more books, articles, and […]

The symbolic portrait of Mozart’s patron Dr. Ferdinand Dejean

Stephen Martin Durham, United Kingdom   Figure 1. Dr Ferdinand Dejean. Oil on canvas. Unsigned. Probably by Jacobus Buys. 47 x 55 cm Dr. Ferdinand Dejean (1731-1797) grew up in the Bonn Court alongside Beethoven’s father and trained as a surgeon.1,2 For ten years he worked on Dutch East India Company ships from Persian Gulf […]

In Consultation: Rachmaninoff, his physician, and the genesis of a masterpiece

Vincent P. de Luise New Haven, Connecticut, USA   “You need color to make music come alive. Without color, music is dead.” — Sergei Rachmaninoff Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) There are piano concertos and then there are Piano Concertos. While favorites include the Tchaikovsky First, Mozart’s Twenty-first, the Beethoven Fifth (“Emperor”), and the first concertos of Brahms […]

Song as a unit for physical activity: A-minor Proposal

Cillin Condon Dublin, Ireland Step to the beat. Created by Cillin Condon and photographed by Anthony Edwards,  St James’ Hospital, Dublin   “Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.” — Virgil Physical inactivity is recognized as a significant risk factor for diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer.1 […]

Mozart’s “Effect” on Us: A review of an aspect of music and cognition

Vincent P. de Luise New Haven, Connecticut   Portrait of Wolfgang Mozart For decades, neuroscientists have explored whether there exists a causal relationship between listening to music and enhancement of cognitive ability. Does music make one smarter? Can listening to music lead to more memory and greater intellect? Does listening specifically to the music of […]

Music and the brain

Rayda Aaishah Joomun Mauritius   “The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colours in your mind” – Maria Cristina Mena Music  brings a smile to our faces. Yet this abstract entity has no conventional defining criteria. Proust acknowledged this: “Music helped me to descend into myself, to discover new things; […]