Music & Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Beethoven
Richard Kogan aspires to heal by using both medical and musical instruments. A practicing psychiatrist and concert pianist, he has combined his parallel careers in an exploration of the influence of mental illness on the creative processes of famous composers. While at Stanford, he explored Beethoven’s biography, speculated on how psychological factors appeared in his music, and then played pieces from Beethoven’s early, middle, and late periods. Very central to his story is an illness, specifically deafness, which had a profound impact on his creative process.
Kogan wants people to think about the connection in music and medicine, as he talks about Beethoven’s three sonatas. He illustrates how momentous events in Beethoven’s life impacted his compositions, and offers insightful interpretations and listening tips before beautifully performing the compositions.
The Art of Healing
Richard Kogan believes that by understanding the minds of composers he is better able to interpret their music, and he has found that many composers have life stories similar to those of his patients. Music has helped him realize that he wants his patients reach their creative peak and be emotionally expressive. “The whole has been better for me than the sum of its parts,” he said. “Learning about composers’ minds really helped me in terms of interpreting and playing their music, and I found that my work with music ended up helping my work as a physician.”
For Kogan, music should be used in conjunction with medicine in healing. “I think it’s really important for healthcare professionals to not lose sight of the fact that music has unparalleled capacity to ease pain, to soothe anxiety, and to lift spirits. When all the scientific findings come in, I think there’s potential for the explosion in the use of music in medical centers.”
Musical & Creative Genius & Mental Illness
West Side Story: The Mind & Music of Leonard Bernstein
Mozart: The Mind & Music of a Genius
Beethoven's Deafness: Psychological Crisis & Artistic Triumph
Tchaikovsky: Music & Melancholy
Music, Mood Swings & Madness