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  #1  
Old 27 April 2007, 07:16 PM
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Crash Schumann mangled his hands?

Comment: Have you ever heard the story that the famous pianist and
composer Robert Schumann messed up his hands with a machine he thought
would strengthen his hands? He thought it would make him a better piano
player but it ruined his career, and eventually it drove him insane.

I'd like it if y'all did some looking into this. This one gets told in a
lot of music history classes.
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  #2  
Old 27 April 2007, 08:00 PM
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Glasses

While not the most reliable source, his wikipedia biography has this to say about his 'insanity':


Quote:
According to studies by the musicologist and literary scholar Eric Sams, Schumann's symptoms during his terminal illness and death appear consistent with those of mercury poisoning. Mercury was at the time a common treatment for syphilis and many other conditions.
No mention was made of his 'messing up his hands'.

The Classical Music Pages page states the following:

Quote:
But he soon had trouble with his hands (allegedly due to a machine to strengthen his fingers, but more likely through remedies for a syphilitic sore). Composition, however, continued; several piano works date from this period.
ETA: The biography on carolinaclassics.com give the same info.
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Old 28 April 2007, 01:24 AM
Malruhn Malruhn is offline
 
 
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Isn't palsy a symptom of advanced syphyllis?

It could have been added to arthritis... enough to put any pianist into an asylum.
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Old 30 April 2007, 06:13 AM
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The textbook we used at school say he invented a "finger exerciser" that was supposed to strengthen his little fingers when playing. More recent sources suggest it was dystonia (a neurological disorder)
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Old 30 April 2007, 10:28 AM
Kizhe Kizhe is offline
 
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I read that he tied his finger to the ceiling at night while he slept in order to increase the range of motion in it. Unfortunately I can't remember where I read it, and all my music books are in a different country... It might have been Classical Music for Dummies - not the best source ever.

I only remember this because while I was quite drunk at the last New Years' Eve party I went to, someone decided that a great conversation opener would be "So, (myname), why would you tie your finger to the ceiling anyway?"
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Old 30 April 2007, 11:53 AM
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In the music textbook, it was a device that kept his little finger elevated while he practised the other fingers. The idea was to make the little figners stronger as they had to overcome the restraint and also to make them more independently mobile of the 3rd fingers. I tried to copy this (using pencils and rubber bands) in class, just to see if it would work!
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  #7  
Old 01 May 2007, 10:17 AM
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Did it work? (Might help me with learning to play guitar...)
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  #8  
Old 27 September 2007, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Invictus View Post
Did it work? (Might help me with learning to play guitar...)
Not in the slightest. That's kind of the point to the rumor. He screwed up his hands.

Also, I was always taught that it was his ring finger, as that is usually considered the weakest finger in piano playing.
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  #9  
Old 09 April 2008, 02:15 AM
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Quote:
How he could create such a work considering his serious tribulations at the time is amazing. He hadnít been able to perform as a concert pianist for about nine years due to a weakness in the fingers of his right hand. (The cause of that thought to be either overuse of a mechanical finger-strengthening gadget or perhaps a mercury treatment for syphilis - though both may be apocryphal.) What is uncontested is that his mental disease was already becoming apparent in severe bouts of depression, and he was also an alcoholic.
http://www.audaud.com/article.php?ArticleID=4046
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