What Killed the Great and Not So Great Composers?

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Author House, Apr 23, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 652 pages
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      From a personally assembled database of 13,859 classical musicians, What Killed the Great and not so Great Composers delves into the medical histories of a wide variety of composers from both a musical and medical standpoint. Biographies of musicians from Johann Sebastian Bach of the Baroque period to Benjamin Britten of the Modern era explore in depth their illnesses and the impact their diseases had on musical productivity. Other chapters referenced to specific composers are devoted to such diverse ailments as deafness, mental disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, surgery and war injuries, to name a few. A unique section of statistics and demographics analyzes various aspects of composers’ lives such as their longevity related to contemporaneous nonmusical populations, the incidence of various illnesses they experienced over the centuries and the type of medical problems suffered by the so-called top 100 classical musicians. Although a precise and complete accounting of the great composers’ ailments may never be possible, a general understanding of the medical problems experienced by these unique individuals, nevertheless, can heighten one’s appreciation of their creative processes despite the hardships imposed by their physical and mental illnesses. Although some individuals surrendered to their disabilities for a variety of reasons, others were able to rise above their infirmities and produce the wonderful music mankind has enjoyed through the centuries.

 

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Contents

Joseph Haydn Chapter 4 37
4
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Chapter 5
45
Ludwig van Beethoven Chapter 6
71
Niccolò Paganini Chapter 7
103
Gioachino Rossini Chapter 9
121
Hector Berlioz Chapter 11
141
Fryderyk Chopin Chapter 13
161
Franz Liszt Chapter 15
183
Drownings Neardrownings and Lost at Sea Chapter 35
427
Warrelated Injuries Illnesses and Deaths Chapter 36
435
Composers Disabilities Chapter 37
453
Uncommon and Unusual Causes of Death Chapter 38
471
Famous Last or Nearlast Words of the Great
499
General Bibliography
513
Appendices
551
Statistical Methods
552

Johannes Brahms Chapter 17
213
Modest Mussorgsky Chapter 19
231
Pyotr Tchaikovsky Chapter 20
237
Gustav Mahler Chapter 21
247
Sergei Rachmaninoff Chapter 22
255
Maurice Ravel Chapter 23
265
Igor Stravinsky Chapter 24
273
George Gershwin Chapter 25
285
Dmitri Shostakovich Chapter 26
295
Benjamin Britten Chapter 27
305
Deafness and the Composers Chapter 28
313
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the Composers Chapter 29
325
Tuberculosis and the Composers Chapter 30
337
Surgery and the Composers Chapter 31
343
Mental Disorders and the Composers Chapter 32
369
Contemplated Attempted or Completed
395
Transportation Accidents and the Composers Chapter 34
411
Top 100 Composers
554
Composers Visual Problems
558
Sibling Survival Rates to Adulthood for Selected Composers
562
Composers with Absolute Perfect Pitch
565
A Partial List of Additional Diagnoses Purported to Have Sickened or Killed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
566
A Partial List of Suggested Causes for Ludwig van Beethovens Deafness
567
Abbreviated List of Abdominal Pain Causes
568
Composers with Varying Degrees of Deafness
569
Composers Who Used or Abused Tobacco
571
Composers with Suspected or Proven Tuberculosis
574
Composers Who Underwent Surgery
577
Established Musicians Incarcerated at Terezín Concentration Camp during WWII
581
Composers Who Died of Black Plague
582
Top 100 Composers Burial Sites
583
Index
591
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About the author (2010)

      Dr. Lewis obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Alabama and completed his cardiothoracic residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He served as Assistant Division Surgeon, 101st Airborne Division, for a year during the Vietnam conflict.

      After spending a year in England as a pediatric cardiothoracic registrar, Killingbeck Hospital, Leeds, Dr. Lewis joined the Division of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. During his 23-year career there, he participated in all aspects of cardiothoracic surgery including repair of congenital heart defects, heart transplants, pulmonary resections and other chest procedures. Additionally, he contributed numerous articles and book chapters to peer-reviewed medical publications.

      Musically, Dr. Lewis played trumpet in his high school band and learned to play the violin in college, the fulfillment of a life-long passion for that instrument. In 1985, he joined the first violin section of the Redford Civic Symphony and later became its associate conductor.

      An avid yachtsman, Dr. Lewis sailed the Great Lakes over a period of 20 years and helped crew a 42 foot sailboat that voyaged across the Atlantic in 2000 from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Stornoway, Scotland.

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