Anxieties and Depression Disorders in Composers'

By Breitenfeld, Tomislav; Breitenfeld, Darko et al. | Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research, May 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Anxieties and Depression Disorders in Composers'


Breitenfeld, Tomislav, Breitenfeld, Darko, Pap, Mislav, Katinic, Krizo, Kostelic, Ivica, Resetar, Ivana, Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research


Introduction

From the biographies of more than ten thousand composers and over a thousand pathographies it appears that in the last five hundred years the average lifespan of com-posers was more than sixty years. Composers presented in this work were sorted chronologically by the year of their birth. [1-7] Some pathographies were more deeply elaborated, and all pathographies with diagnoses were shown chronologically in the additional list of composers affected by anxiety and depression. [8-11].

Rolande (Orlando) de Lassus (C 1532-1594)

Flemish - renaissance conductor and composer. In 1586 his mental and physical health worsened so he withdrew to the countryside, which helped him a lot. In approximately 1590 he became more and more depressed, paranoid, amnesic, leading to dementia. He had a stroke, which resulted in a speech disturbance.

Carlo Gesualdo (1560-1613)

Italian composer. He married his cousin for dynastic purposes, his wife was a daughter of the marquis of Pescara. She was not a very sincere and faithful wife. So he punished her by killing her. This act forced him to withdraw from the public life and he spent the rest of his life in his castle. Later he mar- ried a niece of the duke and this was another mistake. His marriage failed for the second time, there were conversations that he also killed his younger, maybe illegitimate daughter. All these circumstances caused a severe mental crisis to the point of the break down. A social misfit inclined to masochism, he let himself be whipped. Strangely enough, this was the only way he could empty his body properly. He died three weeks after the death of his only son Emanuel who was born from marriage with Carla, his first wife. He died deeply depressed, probably from the consequences of asthmatic problems when he was 53.

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Italian composer and violinist. There was a tragedy in his family when he was 40, his wife died and left him with two underage children. This resulted with depression and illness and consequently, he became less active. His later activities are tied with Venice. When he was 65, there was another period of depression and illness. It was the time of plague epidemic which eliminated all social activities, therefore orders for musical pieces as well. Whenever there was a hard time for him, he used to return to his family in Cremona, so did he just before his death. He had a need to see his family, hometown and Lombardia in general, since he was most appreciated there. All this was too tense for him, he returned home to Venice already ill and died in fever at the age of 76.

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

Italian composer and violinist. He was known as a humble, mild and moral man. Due to frail health he receded from public life, probably after prolonged hardship. It is believed that he suffered from depression, anxiety and melancholy. After he had turned sixty, he died in just three weeks. from a feverish acute illness.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

German composer, organist and conductor. He was qualified as a man of a big appetite, a trencherman, and it was even said he was apt to drink and change his mood. Thus, in the cases of overworking or failure in his business dealings, and probably due to his picnic constitution and cyclothymia, he was prone to shorter or longer depressive conditions which always ended with decreased activities. His frankness, extrovert nature, cheerfulness up to hypomania were rarely interrupted by deeper depressions, particularly in the years 1729, 1734, 1737, 1742, 1743, 1745, (strokes?, embolisms?, alcohol abuse?). When he was about seventy years old, he was especially down, due to his blindness and impossibility to lead further dynamic life of a performer and composer. He was often sitting "in the dark", feeling bad. If he had lived in modern times of alienation but also of professional developed improvement, he would probably go to see a psychiatrist, more probably because of the expressed disturbances than because of a severe manic-depressive disorder. …

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