Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Music Box

  • The musical and medical journey of Jean Sibelius

    Michael YafiChaden YafiHouston, Texas, United States The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, was known for his ability to capture the stark beauty of his country’s landscapes through his unique, austere musical style. Born into a family with diverse talents, his father, Christian Gustaf, served as a municipal and…

  • Did Chopin die from tuberculosis?

    Philip LiebsonChicago, Illinois, United States Frederic Chopin, remembered for his brilliant piano works, suffered from a chronic illness leading to a short life of only thirty-nine years. Yet he lived longer than Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, or George Gershwin. Born in a suburb of Warsaw, he was sickly even as a youth and appeared on the…

  • How did deafness affect the creativity of Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770–1827)?

    Ting-Hsian (Denis) Chen Newcastle-under-Lyme, United Kingdom Introduction Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) is one of the most revered composers in the history of Western music despite the onset of hearing loss early in his career.1,2 Beethoven’s works are traditionally categorized into three periods: early, middle, and late. Increasing deafness forced adaptation and eventually propelled Beethoven’s work from…

  • What caused Offenbach’s death?

    Nicolas RoblesBadajoz, Spain Born in Cologne in 1819, Jakob Eberst (Jacques) Offenbach showed early musical talent. His father taught him to play the violin when he was six years old, and at the age of nine, he began to play the cello. At fourteen, he was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatory directed…

  • Two composers named Arlen

    Avi OhryTel Aviv, Israel “Medicine to produce health must examine disease; and music, to create harmony,must investigate discord.”– Plutarch (AD 46–120), Demetrius, sec I Harold Arlen,1 composer of popular music, was born in 1905 in Buffalo, New York, as Hyman Arluck, the child of a Jewish cantor. After singing in a local synagogue choir, he…

  • Gioachino Rossini: Opera, cuisine, and gonorrhea

    Nicolas Roberto RoblesBadajoz, Spain Born in a family of musicians in Pesaro, Italy, Gioachino Rossini1 displayed inordinate talent from an early age, encouraged by his mother Anna, a notable singer, so that by the age of six, he was already playing the triangle in his father’s musical group. In 1799, Rossini’s father was sent to…

  • The financial affairs of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    After more than 200 years, the music of the great genius Mozart has remained unsurpassed and the interest in various aspects of his life continues unabated. Most medical authorities now believe that he died from Henoch-Schönlein nephritis with severe edema, hypertension, and neurological complications in the form of a stroke.1 There is perhaps less agreement…

  • Tumultuous crescendos and tranquil decrescendos in Ravel’s work

    Michael Yafi Chaden Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Maurice Ravel in his hometown, 1914. Via Wikimedia.  The world is commemorating the 95th anniversary of Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. The composer continues to be one of the most enigmatic classical music personalities. Born in 1875 in Ciboure, France, he displayed from an early age a keen…

  • The parallel paths of opera and medicine

    Fête musicale. Oil on canvas by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, 1747. Louvre Museum. Via Wikimedia. In 1597 when Jacopo Peri composed Dafne, the first opera ever written, sporadic epidemics of bubonic plague were still striking his city of Florence. Venice was also suffering greatly. It had been visited by the plague twenty-two times, and some 50,000…

  • And for unto us… Medicine, Messiah, and Christmas

    Desmond O’NeillDublin, Ireland Although the very first performance of the Messiah took place in April 1742 in Dublin with the London première following in March 1743, the oratorio is closely associated with the Christmas season in the Anglophone world. The origin of this custom has been claimed by the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston…