Music Box | Hektoen International

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

Vincent P. de Luise New Haven, Connecticut (Spring 2017)   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 and the brain

Rayda Aaishah Joomun Mauritius (Winter 2017)   “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 […]

Was the Mozart Effect evident before the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?

Harishnath Ramachandran England, United Kingdom (Winter 2017)   “Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” – Plato   Statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) taken by Mrs. Sanju Ramachandran (Vienna 2009) The word music is derived from the Greek word “mousike”, meaning art of the muses. It is considered a […]

Medicine musica: the eighteenth-century rationalization of music and medicine

Daisy Fancourt Roehampton University, London, United Kingdom (Summer 2013)   Instruments de musique, 1770 Anne Vallayer-Coster Musée du Louvre, Paris Legends of music’s healing powers on both the mind and the body are estimated to go as far back as Paleolithic times, when music was believed to be a magic that could drive away the […]

Madness at the Opera

  Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor It is ironic and tragic that Gaetano Donizetti, author of the most famous mad scenes in the history of opera, should himself have died in a state of utter madness from what has been described “as the most terrible of all brain diseases”.1 In two of his operas, […]

Schubert, Schumann, and the Spirochete

Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)  Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) Their names sound Germanic and are somewhat similar, as are their portraits. They wrote beautiful music and rank high among the great composers of the romantic era. To confuse their names would constitute an unforgivable crime, especially in the eye of music lovers. Yet in […]

Surgery, note by note: Marin Marais’ Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille

James L. Franklin Rush University, Chicago, Illinois, United States (Summer 2012) Figure 1. Marin Marais, 1704 André Bouys How has medicine been depicted in music? Examples from the operatic stage come to mind: tuberculosis in Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s La Bohème; madness or delirium in the mad scene in Donizetti’s Lucia Da Lammermoor and […]

The sound of one hand clapping: meditations on sinistrality

James L. Franklin (Winter 2009)   Paper presented to the Chicago Literary Club on April 7, 2008  It all began on the coldest morning of the season in early December 2006. Painters were still in our apartment putting the finishing touches on what had proven to be an all too prolonged renovation project. However—the end […]

The castrati: a physician’s perspective, part 2

James L. Franklin Hektoen Institute of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States (Fall 2010) The first half of this article was previously published in Hektoen International, Summer 2010 as  The castrati: a physician’s perspective, part I Medical aspects In this second part, we turn to the medical aspects of our subject and questions of by whom […]

The castrati: a physician’s perspective, part 1

James L. Franklin Hektoen Institute of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States (Spring 2010)   A modified version of this paper was presented on March 1, 2010 to the Chicago Literary Club. “The castrati: a physician’s perspective” will appear in two installments. The first one in this issue details the history, sociology and musical history relevant […]