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Who, after being fished out of the Rhine by a boatman in February 1854, asked to be taken to an asylum for the insane?
Answer: Robert Schumann. He entered a sanatorium in Bonn and remained there until his death in July 1856.
Which Austrian composer likewise attempted suicide by drowning, this time in the Traunsee in 1898…and likewise asked to be placed in an asylum?
Correct! His last piece of writing was 60 pages of an unfinished opera from 1897.
‘Truly there would be no reason to go mad were it not for music.’ Which composer said this?
Diagnosed as suffering ‘delusional insanity’ after a mental breakdown initially, but almost certainly wrongly, ascribed to ‘shell shock’ suffered in WW1, this British composer spent his last 15 years in mental hospitals. Who was he?
Charles Villiers Stanford
Correct! Ivor Gurney. He was gassed in September 1917, but had shown symptoms of bipolar disorder since his teens.
An 1835 opera based loosely on a work byWalter Scott contains the most famous mad scene of them all. Name the composer and the opera.
Bellini's I puritani
Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor
Correct! Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. After being forced into marriage Lucia murders her husband on their wedding night
Henry Purcell’s 1683 song ‘From Silent Shades and the Elysian Groves’, which depicts the hysterical delusions of an insane woman, is better known by which name?
'Mad Bessi' or 'Bess of Bedlam'
Correct! It depicts Bess, driven insane by a broken heart.
'I love my love'
'Musing on cares of human fate'
Viewing a set of eight Hogarth paintings that depict a young man descending into debauchery and then insanity provided a composer with both the title and the inspiration for a 1951 opera. The opera is The Rake’s Progress; name the composer.
Answer: Stravinsky. The protagonist, Tom Rakewell, deserts Anne Trulove to explore the delights of London in the company of Nick Shadow, who turns out to be the Devil.
A composer largely remembered by history as a model of restraint and good humour, who composed the anthem ‘Insanae et Vanae Curae’?
Answer: Josef Haydn: The title translates as 'Vain and Raging Cares'
Confined in St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics in the 1750s, poet Christopher Smart passed the time by considering his cat Jeoffry in his Jubilate Agno. Who set his words to music in 1943?
Answer: Britten used the poem for his festival cantata Rejoice in the Lamb
Which British composer, when not serving swan terrine to Orcadian policemen, wrote Eight Songs for a Mad King?
Peter Maxwell Davies
Correct! The 1969 piece contains a section in which the staves are arranged to look like a birdcage
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