Klarinet Archive - Posting 000663.txt from 2002/05
From: Bear Woodson <bearwoodson@-----.net>
Subj: [kl] Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Tinnitus
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 18:50:12 -0400
Hello, Klarinet List.
When I was in high school (31 YEARS ago!
Ouch!) I did a report on the life of Johannes
Brahms's father was a mousy little guy from
a poor family, who left home in his late teens to
join the military for a few years, and immediately
afterwards he married a woman old enough to
be his mother. (Move over Oedipus!) They
raised a few kids, of which Johannes Brahms
was one of them, and each of the kids had to
help put food on the table.
When Johannes was old enough he had to do
gigs, playing piano anywhere that would pay a
few bucks (Deutsch Marks, actually), and since
they lived in the rough neighborhoods of the
Hamburg docks, bordellos were the closest thing
to anything plush and arty. Yes, Johannes played
piano in bordellos, but he also grew up with a
mother who was old enough to be his grand-
mother, and a mousy little father who was more
like a brother, than a strong, leadership figure
of a father.
Clara Wieck Schumann was also old enough
to be Johannes Brahms's mother, and being a
brilliant pianist and composer in her own right,
Johannes couldn't help but fall in love with her.
Robert and Clara Schumann made their daily
living by working as writers for the "Allgemeine
musikalische Zeitung" [AMZ] (the "General
Musical Newspaper"), founded in 1798. (Some
sources say that the Schumanns founded this
newspaper, but that is not correct.)
Since both Robert and Clara Schumann had
solid jobs, (at least some of the time), as well as
being talented composers and pianists, Johannes,
who grew up admiring talent and financial stability,
couldn't help but to be infatuated with them both,
but especially the matriarchal Clara Schumann.
But Robert Schumann had "Tinnitus", which
is a constant ringing in the ears. The Human Ear
Canal is equal to the size of a tiny Organ Pipe
near the highest F to F# on the piano. This is
near the note that Tinnitus sufferers constantly
By the way, William Shatner from Captain
Kirk fame from Star Trek has Tinnitus, and it
has nearly driven him to suicide on many
occasions. He is a big advocate to raise money
to find a cure.
(As a Terminal 20th Century Music Theory
Geek and Composer, I have noticed that most
Americans are fans of Popular Music, which
often uses 5 Tonal Chords, or less, per piece
of music. Isn't it interesting that people who
love living in a world, with as little Harmonic
Variety as possible, NEVER Complain about
hearing ONE Note all day long! Hmmm???
Just the observation of a Theory Geek who
easily gets bored from a lack of Harmonic
However in Robert Schumann's case it did
drive him crazy, and he tried to commit suicide
by jumping into the icy, filthy Rhein River. He
was fished out of the water, and placed in an
insane asylum, which were filthier and more
cruel that most prisons then. (It was Beethoven
who was suspected of having Syphilis, NOT
Robert Schumann.) He died a few years later
from the filth and malnutrition of the hospital.
If this is how they treat composers, (and Star
Trek fans), it's no wonder I'm afraid of the Space
Aliens being out to GET me! (The Paranoids
sent them after me! I can tell!)
Composer in Tucson, Arizona, USA
"Bear Woodson" <bearwoodson@-----.net>
"Have you ever noticed that the same people who say:
'Instant Gratification takes too long', also often say
'Three-Chord-Wonder music has too many chords'?"
- Bear Woodson, (1998)