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Russian Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, while writing his now hallmark Piano Concerto No. 2, suffered such depression and apathy he was unable to continue work on the composition.

His family finally convinced him to see Dr. N. Dahl, a pioneer in hypnotherapy. The composer saw Dahl from January through April of 1900.

Rachmaninoff wrote in Recollections, "I heard the same hypnotic formula repeated day after day while I lay half asleep in an armchair in Dahl's study, 'You will begin to write your Concerto ... You will work with great facility ... The Concerto will be of an excellent quality....'

"I felt that Dr. Dahl's treatment had strengthened my nervous system to a miraculous degree. Out of gratitude I dedicated my second Concerto to him."

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"Learning music by reading is like making love by mail."

Luciano Pavarotti

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The history of opera doesn't begin until about 1600, when it became an art form in Florence. The earliest known operas were Euridice, a poem by Rinuccini set to music by G. Caccini, and Dafne, also written by Rinuccini with music done by J. Peri. The early operas, all, were performed in Florence.

In 1607 the first significant opera approximating the form we know today was performed. It was Monteverdi's La favola d'Orfeo.

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Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, whose Third Symphony became a cross-chart hit in 1996 was raised by his father who was a railway clerk. His mother died when he was two and, during World War II, many family members died in concentration camps and while fighting as members of the Polish resistance.

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Composer Franz Joseph Haydn also was of humble origin. His father was a wheelwright and his mother a cook. Franz Joseph and his brother were gifted with excellent voices and, when Franz Joseph was eight, the organist at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna heard him sing and recruited him immediately.

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One for irony, Russian Composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose works were constantly attacked by dictator Josef Stalin, surely would have found it wry that he and Stalin would, both, die on the same day; March 5, 1953.

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A Minneapolis radiologist who also plays violin took his instrument to work with him one day and during a slack moment X-rayed it. Subsequently, he has discovered through X-raying dozens of Amati and Stradivarius violins that worm holes, cracks and the like have been skillfully concealed by clever lutiers (see the "Words" page).

No wonder when prices upwards to a million dollars (US) are paid for the instruments.

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Lucky for me when I was in high school band that I didn't know the original instrument which became the trombone was the sackbut. We had some pretty big dudes who played the old sack..., uh, trombone, and I know my mouth would have got my eye or my nose into trouble.

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The German composer Johann Schobert may have known his music very well but he obviously didn't have the same proclivity for selecting mushrooms.

He ended up poisoning his family and himself with a bitter day's harvest.

(Musicologists, forgive me if I've spelled his name improperly. This has been a tough one to try to wrestle to the floor and the only direct record of it I've located was audio. If this is in error, please advise me. Also, I am aware that a promising French composer Emile <?> met a less than glamorous end when his bicycle crashed into a brick wall. If anyone knows more about that, that information would be appreciated, too.)

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Since even those who have absolutely no inclination for classical music are familiar with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart it seems almost beyond belief that he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Vienna when he died.

Some family, friends and benefactors he had.

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In what is sometimes declared "classical music's only unsolved murder," in 1764 French conductor and composer Jean LeClair was found dead in the hallway of his home. While an official conclusion never was reached, his estranged wife was believed by many to have been the murderer.

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Russian composer Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, who composed such well-know ballets as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker as well as many symphonies, overtures and other works, like many artists suffered from emotional problems. Whether because of that or not, he effectively committed suicide when, during a rampant cholera epidemic, he knowingly drank unboiled water.

And died.

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John Penman Jones
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