Music and Mental Health: Guess Who
- December 23, 2017
The phrase “mental health” does not always need to have a negative connotation. Often a brain that functions differently can lead to beautiful and wonderful things, especially within the artistic realm. One area where this can be apparent is in the creation of music. Some of the greatest musical geniuses faced some serious mental health issues. We admire their work, continuing into even hundreds of years later, and this work inspires others to create more amazing things. One such composereven gained the admiration and respect of the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, with Mozart expanding on one of his pieces, and Beethoven hailing him as “the greatest composer that ever lived.” Born in Germany in 1685, this composer spent most of his days living in London, actually becoming a naturalized British subject in 1727. He loved writing Italian operas, but he also wrote English oratorios; his greatest masterpiece was an oratorio written in 1741 which was premiered for Easter in 1742. Now, however, this piece is most commonly played during the Yuletide season. Other than the text, this piece was solely written by this composer over a matter of mere weeks. The score was two-hundred and fifty-nine pages; this composer had to write from morning to night to make it happen. With this in mind, many believe that this piece in particular, as well as possibly some other pieces created by this composer, was written within a manic state. Comprised of a full orchestra and multiple choir parts, this piece is over two hours long, but there is one chorus within it that is known throughout the globe. Although this is the key piece this composer is remembered for, he also wrote over forty operas and at least seven oratorios, he even earned a pension from the court of the king and had a statue erected in his honor in Vauxhall Gardens before he died.
Although we may never know for certain whether or not this composer was given any kind of mental health diagnosis, it is most likely that he faced some mental health challenges at some points within his lifetime. This never stopped him from achieving amazing things, and his name will be forever be remembered for the masterpiece he created, one that is recognizable to almost every ear. This is an example of the potential darkness of mental health struggles being turned into something truly beautiful, and I just want it to be remembered that it is possible. There can be light even among the darkness, and things can get better even if it sometimes takes a lot of work.
If you are still uncertain who this classical composer may be, and if you have not already done so, click on one of the multiple links above to find out, and enjoy this amazing piece of work (or at least take a chance to listen to part of it)!
Ashley Hvidt is a Painted Brain MSW Intern with USC Chan School of Occupational Therapy