Tag Archives: music

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 […]

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 […]

“Moonlight” and silence

Anne Jacobson Oak Park, Illinois, United States   Woman at the Piano. 1875/76. Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The Art Institute of Chicago. At seventeen, I knew little about the limitations or losses that might cause a person to second-guess a vocation, deeply held belief, or identity. Perhaps those questions about the unknowable future inhabit the soul of […]

Richard Dadd: art and madness

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Portrait of British painter Richard Dadd (1817-1886) showing painting Contradiction: Oberon and Titania. Henry Hering. circa 1856. Source Unknown. Public Domain due to age. Is there anything so extravagant as the imaginations of men’s brains? Where is the head that has no chimeras in it? . . . Our knowledge, […]

The lost art and the hidden treasure

Jennifer Bingham Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania   It is the moment we catch ourselves wishing someone had mentioned how many pieces were in this puzzle that we look up to find progress. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels. The puzzle box is empty and the pieces are scattered across the table. After all, a puzzle was never meant […]

Medical innovations made by doctors during the Napoleonic Wars

Craig Stout Aberdeen, Scotland   The Battle of Waterloo (1815), oil painting by William Sadler. Pyms Gallery, London. The Napoleonic Wars (1799 to 1815) brought great upheaval and turmoil to Europe, with as many as 2.5 million soldiers and 1 million civilians losing their lives. French military physicians, principally Dominique Jean-Larrey, made significant contributions to […]

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 […]