Tag Archives: Music Box

Maria Callas—her inner voice revealed

Eelco Wijdicks Lea Dacy Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Cover: Prima Donna: The Psychology of Maria Callas. In Prima Donna: The Psychology of Maria Callas, Paul Wink convincingly concludes—based on largely secondary sources—that Maria Callas was not only a wildly ambitious operator who was not known for an emollient manner, but a prime example of […]

The finality in their voices II: physiology-defying violent opera death

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   The title character in Werther bleeding profusely from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but still able to sing an extended aria, used with permission from Alamy. In a previous article, we reviewed the plausibility of opera deaths in wasting diseases such as that of […]

The finality in their voices: death, disease, and palliation in opera

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Figure 1: Violetta’s deathbed in La Traviata, from 2009 Glimmerglass Opera production directed by Sir Jonathan Miller. Photo by Richard Termine, used with his permission. I know she had tuberculosis! She was coughing her brains out . . . but still she kept […]

Ludwig van Beethoven: music and medicine

Michael Yafi Chaden Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Beethoven home and surrounding area. Photos by Michael Yafi. December 2020 marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. The causes of the composer’s deafness and his death at the age of fifty-six have remained unknown, even after an autopsy carried out soon […]

Sergei Rachmaninoff: the dichotomy of life and music

Michael Yafi Chaden Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Rachmaninoff. Photo by Bain News Service. between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920. Library of Congress Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), a Russian composer, was known for having very large hands. With a span that covered twelve white keys on the keyboard (the interval of a thirteenth), he could […]

Robert Schumann’s hand injury

James L. Franklin  Chicago, Illinois, United States   Robert and Clara Schumann. By Eduard Kaiser. 1847. Via Wikimedia  The death of the American pianist Leon Fleisher (1928–2020)1 whose brilliant career as a piano soloist was upended in his mid-thirties by the development of a crippling movement disorder affecting his right hand, brings to mind the composer […]

The two nightingales

Inga Lewenhaupt Einar Perman Stockholm, Sweden   Jenny Lind standing at a keyboard. Library of Congress, Bain Collection. Accessed via Wikimedia. Source Two remarkable women were born in the same year two centuries ago: Jenny Lind (1820-1887) and Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). Both became world famous, Jenny Lind for her beautiful singing voice, Florence Nightingale for […]

Mahler’s endocarditis and broken heart

Michael Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), Austrian composer, and his wife Alma (1879–1964) near Toblach.. Unknown photographer. 1909. ÖNB, Bildarchiv Austria, Austrian National Library Gustave Mahler (1860-1911) suffered from personal setbacks throughout his life. Despite receiving more acclaim in early 1900, the death of his daughter Maria from scarlet fever and […]

Four Women Dancing

The urge to move to music is universal. Dancing represents an essential part of human culture, and acts as a social unifier, increasing cohesion in a group. Collective effervescence, a concept created by sociologist Émile Durkheim, is what sits at the heart of dancing and gives it its unifying power. A more unified community is […]

Gymnopédie

Mark Tan Northwest Deanery, UK   First phrase of Gymnopédie. Erik Satie, 1888. Gymnopédie No. 1. Public domain Oblique et coupant l’ombre un torrent éclatant Ruisselait en flots d’or sur la dalle polie Où les atomes d’ambre au feu se miroitant Mêlaient leur sarabande à la gymnopédie [English translation]: Slanting and shadow-cutting a bursting stream […]