Tag Archives: music

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 […]