[Mental disease in two classical music composers].Psychiatriki. 2012 Oct-Dec; 23(4):344-53.P
A study οn two neglected classical music composers suffering a not syphilitic mental disease, is attempted here, syphilis of the central nervous system being frequent in that time. A brief overview on the psychiatric ailments of many great composers reveals suicide attempts and more or less severe depression following external events. The issue of a possible relationship between mental disease and (musical) creativity can be discussed, as mood swings and a certain tendency to melancholia are frequent features of a talented brain (a fact that can also be detected in their works). The first case presented here is Hans Rott from Austria, the beloved student of Anton Bruckner, who was considered to be at least equal to his famous classmate Gustav Mahler. The great expectations of his teacher and his friends suddenly came to an end, when he suffered a crisis of schizophrenia and was hospitalized in an insane asylum in Lower Austria. The tragic psychiatric adventure of the young musician lasted almost four years. He was diagnosed as a case of "hallucinatory insanity" and "persecution mania" by the medical staff, before dying of tuberculosis, aged only 26, and having completed only one symphony and several smaller works. His name came again on surface only a century after his death, when in 1989 his Symphony in E Major was discovered and premiered with great success, permitting to its creator a posthumous recognition, among Bruckner and Mahler. The second case of mental illness is that of the Armenian Komitas Vardapet. He was an orphan who grew up in theological schools and became a monk and later a priest, though he spent some years in Berlin in order to develop his musical skills. He is considered to be an authority of Armenian ecclesiastic music, introducing polyphony in the Armenian Church's music and collecting numerous traditional songs from all parts of Armenia. In 1915, during the Armenian genocide he was deported, tortured but finally saved, due to interventions of influential friends and politicians. His mental health was destabilized and he spent almost 20 years in psychiatric hospitals in France. He never recovered from a mental disease, whose cause is still debated, as some researchers do not admit its schizophrenic character and consider it as a severe post traumatic syndrome. The issue of a mental disease in relation to artistic creation is discussed, especially concerning biographies and mental diseases of these two gifted but strangely forgotten music composers.