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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1989 Mar;23(1):111-6.

Beethoven's creative illness.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne.


One phase of Beethoven's life, between his 45th and 50th year, characterized by very low creativity and overwhelming stress situations, is subjected to a psychiatric interpretation. The historical background is briefly sketched and 5 precipitating stress factors are outlined. The symptoms of his illness are described, using Beethoven's letters as source material. A brief discussion of Beethoven's musical style prior to and after his illness is based on quotations from three eminent musical scholars. A resume of Beethoven's physical and psychological disorders during his life are given and the conclusion is reached that between 1815 and 1820, Beethoven experienced a creative illness which was psychotic in type, ended in recovery and radically changed his musical creativity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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