Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mozart's Genius

Few classical musicians would dispute that Mozart was one of if not THE greatest musical compositional geniuses that ever lived.  First of all, his life was so disappointingly brief.  He was born in 1756 and died in 1791.  So Mozart only lived to be 35 years old. 

In his 35 brief years, he composed over 600 masterpieces, including symphonies, concertos, sonatas, operas, chamber music of all kinds, and a stunningly beautiful final "Requiem." Mozart was a brilliant musician but apprently had a very child-like personality and was never able to manage his finances or personal relationships very well.

How he wrote music that has appealed to and helped so many different kinds of people over the past 250 years, we'll never know, but if you're looking for healing music, you can't go wrong with Mozart!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mozart Helps Preemies Gain Weight Faster!

.Playing Mozart music to premature babies seems to help them gain weight faster and become stronger, new research found.

Once a day for two consecutive days, doctors played either 30 minutes of music by the 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or no music, to 20 pre-term babies at the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel. After listening to the music, the babies were calmer and so expended less energy than the no-music group. When babies' energy expenditure is decreased, they don't need as many calories to grow, so can gain weight and thrive more quickly – exactly what preemies need.

"It's not exactly clear how the music is affecting them, but it makes them calmer and less likely to be agitated," said researcher Dror Mandel, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University.

Though the sample size was small, the scientists said their findings were statistically significant.

Previous research has shown that music can reduce stress, decrease heart rate, and increase oxygen saturation in preterm infants. Oxygen saturation is a measure of the amount of oxygen carried in the blood relative to the maximum amount the blood could carry. When this number gets low it can be a sign of heart or lung problems.

The researchers didn't try playing any music other than Mozart's, so they don't know whether the effect would hold true for other tunes.

"We want to know if what we found is a Mozart effect, or just music," Mandel told LiveScience. "I think that other composers will also have effects, however it might be that the Mozart music has particular effects compared to other composers."

The researchers decided to try Mozart music because of a 1993 study that found that college students could temporarily improve their performance on spatial–temporal tasks by listening to a Mozart sonata for 10 minutes a day.

"The repetitive melodies in Mozart's music may be affecting the organizational centers of the brain's cortex," Mandel said. "Unlike Beethoven, Bach or Bartok, Mozart's music is composed with a melody that is highly repetitive."

However, the so-called Mozart effect has sometimes been taken too far. A company called Baby Einstein (now owned by Disney) that publishes a series of Baby Mozart videos and music disks offered a refund last year for all Baby Einstein videos, after receiving complaints that the company had falsely claimed the videos were educational.

The Israeli researchers plan to test out different kinds of music soon. One team member suggested that rap music might evoke the same response as Mozart, since it has a similar pulsating and repetitive frequency.

Mandel and his colleague Ronit Lubetzky published their findings in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Mooozart Effect

After Playing Mozart at Milking Time, One Farmer Has Seen a Dramatic Shift in Cows' Temperament and Production

On Hans Pieter Sieber's Priegola dairy farm in Villanueva del Pardillo, Spain, the secret to success is not some newfangled technology or machine. Nor is it a time-tested technique or process handed down from generation to generation. Rather it is the dulcet, layered tones of classical music.

( not just any music.

Sieber exposes his herd of approximately 700 heifers to the famous chords, crescendos and cadences of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Once just normal, run-of-the-mill dairy cows, these Friesians now receive the rock star treatment -- listening to soothing music, sleeping on water beds, taking relaxing showers, and even enjoying sessions with an animal psychologist.

Believe it or not, since sending Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp in D Major soaring through their stalls at milking time, Sieber has seen a dramatic shift in the temperament and production of his Daisys and Besses.

Now his herd quietly lines up to be milked, seeming not to mind the poking and prodding that comes with being a dairy cow, and, most notably, producing anywhere from 1 to 6 more liters of milk per day than their non-Mozart listening counterparts.

"It is relaxing music for them, but at the same time it is dynamic, it keeps the cows active. The trick is not to have music too relaxing," said Sieber's son, Nicolas Sieber, the head of marketing for the Priegola farm. But Sieber believes it's simpler than that. "If you give the cows comfort they are more disposed to help out," he said.

Originally discovered by monks in Brittany, the effect of Mozart on cows' milk production is not a totally new concept.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Did Mozart believe in Lullabies?

There is a never-ending circle that connects Mozart with Dr. Alfred Tomatis with myself and Don Campbell and with new mothers and infants. The thread than runs through all of this is the time-honored lullaby. Of course mothers have lulled their babies to sleep for eons with lullabies of all kinds.

Mozart was very fond of a French folk song called "Ah, Je Vous dirai-je maman" and it's the tune we now know as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Mozart wrote a famous set of variations for piano on this now internationally know tune. Dr. Tomatis was huge proponent of the health benefits of Mozart's music and an expert on the development of the ear in the unborn child. Don Campbell and I both studied with Dr. Tomatis and Don subsequently wrote "The Mozart Effect" and I subsequently produced a "Lullaby CD." You can buy the lullaby CD with Mozart's lullaby on it now!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What did Mozart really die from?

European researchers investigating records of deaths in Vienna around the time of Mozart's death at the age of 35 on 5 December 1791 suggest that the composer may have died from a streptococcal throat infection that led to a fatal kidney syndrome.

The study is the work of first author Richard HC Zegers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and colleagues Andreas Weigl from the University of Vienna in Austria and Andrew Steptoe from University College London in the UK, and is published online in the 18 August issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The early death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has fascinated people all over the world for over 200 years, with some believing he was poisoned by a rival, while others have suggested he died from kidney failure, Henoch-Schönlein purpura (a condition where blood vessels become inflamed), trichinosis (a parasite disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork), and many other causes.

For the study, Zegers and colleagues examined the official daily register of deaths in Vienna and compared it to what witnesses said at around the time of the composer's death.

They analyzed all deaths recorded in Vienna during the three months from November 1791 to January 1792 and then also during the same three months in 1790 to 1791 and 1792 to 1793.

According to eyewitness accounts at the time, Mozart's body was very swollen before he died, suggesting he had severe edema (swelling caused by excess fluid in bodily tissues).

After analysing the records and comparing them to the eyewitness accounts, the researchers found that:
5,011 adults (3,442 men, 1,569 women) died in total in Vienna over the 3 periods.

The mean age of death for men was 45.5 years (standard deviation SD, 18.5) and for women it was 54.5 years (SD, 19.9).

The most commonly recorded cause of death was tuberculosis (TB) and related conditions.

The second most common was cachexia (wasting syndrome) and malnutrition, and the third most common was edema.

Deaths from edema were significantly higher among younger men the weeks surrounding Mozart's death compared with the same period in preceding and following years.

This minor epidemic may have started in the city's military hospital.
Zegers and colleagues concluded that their analysis was:

"Consistent with Mozart's last illness and death being due to a streptococcal infection leading to an acute nephritic syndrome caused by poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis."

Streptococcal infection is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria of which there are many strains, including some that cause a scarlet fever rash.

In the throat the infection ranges from mild to very severe and can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever and, as the authors suggest in Mozart's case, a rare kidney condition called poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys caused by an immune system reaction to streptococcal infection. The kidney's glomeruli play an essential role in filtering the blood.

Zegers and colleagues also said it was possible that scarlet fever killed Mozart, because it leads to the same kidney complication, but given the evidence from the records they examined, they thought this was less likely.

"The Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: An Epidemiologic Perspective."
Richard H.C. Zegers, Andreas Weigl, and Andrew Steptoe.
Annals of Internal Medicine Volume 151 Issue 4, Pages 274-278, 18 August 2009.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can Mozart Make you Smarter? Ask the expert!

Dr. Glenn Wilson, visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College, explains the effect of classical music - specifically Mozart - on the brain...

Friday, May 29, 2009

The next Mozart?

Mozart is often considered to be one of the greatest prodigies that ever lived. He was performing at age 3 and composing at age 5. But today, there is a little girl named Emily Bear, who is also a piano prodigy and composes as well. What do you think of little Emily and her playing?