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Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2014 May;156(5):1047-51. doi: 10.1007/s00701-014-2039-3. Epub 2014 Mar 11.

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Fanny Hensel: two cases of intracerebral hemorrage and great composers of the nineteenth century.

Author information

1
Lehrstuhl für Chirurgische Forschung, Institut für Forschung in der Operativen Medizin, Fakultät für Medizin der Universität Witten/Herdecke, Campus Köln-Merheim,Ostmerheimer Str. 200, 51109, Köln, Germany, elena-romana.gasenzer@gmx.de.

Abstract

The composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and his sister, Fanny Hensel, both died in 1847 of intracerebral hemorrhage. Also their father and grandfather had died of cerebral strokes. Their cases show the dramatic progress of an arteriovenous malformation in the nineteenth century, but also the development of new romantic styles in the history of western music. Since the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, neurology and neurosurgery had developed as highly specialized medical subjects. Today, neurosurgery is a highly developed medical subject, and the neurosurgeon uses high-tech equipment for neurosurgical procedures and intensive care. But before the 1960s, when modern neurosurgery began with the invention of the surgical microscope and other techniques, neurosurgical and neurological treatments were only helpless attempts with an experimental character to help a patient with a fatal disease. In the middle of the nineteenth century, symptoms of strokes or brain tumors were know, but medical knowledge and equipment were lacking. The cases of the Mendelssohn family are an interesting review of early neurology and the cultural life of the nineteenth century.

PMID:
24615067
DOI:
10.1007/s00701-014-2039-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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