Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To help cure the terrible melancholy - we would call it depression - of King Philip V of Spain, the queen and her physician believed that music would do the trick.

So the great castrato soprano Farinelli was brought to court. Though he had received great acclaim in Italy, England and France, and he was only 32 years old, Farinelli never performed in public again although he lived to be 77. Apparently, he sang the same two arias every night to the king. Whether it really cured his melancholia is open to debate. But Farinelli became a great favorite at the Spanish court. He amassed a small fortune including paintings by Velásquez and Murillo, and violins by Stradivarius and Amati, and was even knighted by the king's successor, Ferdinand VI (whose wife, Maria Barbara was the apt pupil of Domenico Scarlatti, who wrote hundreds of sonatas for her to play, many of them ground-breaking and of great charm and idiosyncrasy).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all it took were the right music to dispel our darkest fears and worries and terrible unhappiness? If music was the tonic for the worst mental illness? It makes so much sense to me.

The Swedish word for the day is sorg. It means sorrow.


Linas Alsenas said...

How timely--you saw this yesterday, right?

Anonymous said...

That movie left a lasting impression on me althoug I saw it 12 some years ago.

Beautiful inspirational music that makes you believe there is a heaven.