Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Mind Music

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 18, 2012

Richard Kogan MD, a psychiatrist, Julliard-trained pianist, helped fundraise for PER (see above link), by describing how Beethoven’s inner landscape contributed to his composition. In the above YouTube we see him playing Tchaikovsky, but we saw him playing Beethoven. We learned that his alcoholic father might have made Ludwig feel unloved, and hence unloveable, perhaps explaining why Beethoven never had a serious relationship. With such painful loneliness he composed music which seemed to correspond to his mood during that period in his life. Yet, the most fascinating part of the evening was when Dr. Kogan spoke of his own personal challenge of going from playing Beethoven to describing Beethoven. The transition between being immersed in the mind to being immersed in the music was something that Dr. Kogan had to work at. That amazed me given his talent for music, along with his medical credentials. Some people amaze. Beethoven and Kogan are both such people.

2 Responses to “Mind Music”

  1. Jon said

    In the above YouTube, Dr. Kogan well discusses the inner psyche of Tchaikovsky. From what you have said, it appears he does and equally well done discussion of Beethoven. Based on this, I am thinking in two different directions.

    First is the excellent understanding of music done by Dr. Robert Greenberg of The Great Courses. Greenberg’s discussion of both the music and the psychology behind them are excellent. I highly recommend any and all courses that Greenberg does.

    Second is a quote from the Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard. He starts off his work Either/Or with the following statement. “What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music. His fate is like that of the unfortunate victims whom the tyrant Phalaris imprisoned in a brazen bull, and slowly tortured over a steady fire; their cries could not reach the tyrant’s ears so as to strike terror into his heart; when they reached his ears they sounded like sweet music….”

    There are many ways to express the monster problem of being human.

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