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The Healing Power of Classical Music

The Healing Power of Classical Music

“Music is the medicine of the mind” - John A. Logan

Angeline Peng

My orchestra director has said many things about classical music:

“This amount of build up and tension and climax here cannot be encapsulated in a 4 minute pop song.” 

“Symphonic music has survived for hundreds of years and this music will survive for hundreds more years to come.” 

“Every teenager needs to experience classical music at least once in their life.”


Many people assume that classical music is bland, and they wouldn’t be wrong to assume that. There are some pieces that are less interesting than others. Classical music has many different eras, much like the different eras of art. It gets its name from the classical era in the 18th century, most known for producing Mozart, arguably the most famous composer there is. 


In the late 18th century, Ludwig Van Beethoven revolutionized music composition. His works are seen as the bridge between the classical era and the romantic era, which focused on showing extreme emotions. Famous composers like Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Chopin were all part of the Romantic era. The Romantic era is what I’d like to introduce you to, a period with music made of raw emotions, of intense pain and agony that lifts into an incredible release from suffering. 


Beethoven’s Depression

It was well known that Beethoven turnt deaf at the later stages of his life. He started losing his hearing when he was about 30. On top of this, he faced more hardships. In childhood, he was exploited because of his talents. Für Elise, one of his most famous piano pieces, was written for an unrequited love. In the latter years of his life, he avoided people and withdrew into himself. 


His letters to his friends are filled with alarming notions, saying “I joyfully hasten to meet death… for will it not deliver me from endless suffering?” and “I often think of death, but without fear.” Psychologists believe that Beethoven had bipolar disorder, which is characterized by periods of extreme mania and depression.


Composing was the thing that saved his life. Beethoven writes later that “It was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” It is a tragedy that Beethoven could not hear the beautiful works that he would go on to produce. 


This lesson applies to everyone else in the world. Although it may be hard to find what clicks for you, don’t give up looking for it. The passion will bring you to places you’ve never imagined. All passions have their ups and their downs. Beethoven would not have survived the pain that he had encountered if he had not known music.. You may also face challenges along the way (like Beethoven losing his hearing) but in the end, he never gave up and went on to produce marvelous works. 


Experience Classical Music

Music therapy has been proven to have numerous positive effects. In a study at the University of Oaxaca, half the patients diagnosed with low to medium levels of depression listened to classical works while the other half went through therapy for the same amount of time. Results from the study showed that listening to classical music had more of an impact on the patients than traditional therapy. This does not mean that therapy is ineffective, in extreme cases of depression it is essential to recovery. However, in lower levels of depression, listening to classical music can certainly help as much as therapy. Along with depression, classical music has also been shown to reduce anxiety. 


I was listening to Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphony one day and I saw this in the comments. Patients in the study also experienced the same thing. On the first day, many were unenthusiastic about the music, but at the end of the study, numerous people asked for more similar music. 


This article was written so that more people could really experience classical music. If you just try to focus on it, it can bring you to other worlds. Playing music also gives this feeling as well. For the duration of the piece, you put all of life’s worries away and focus entirely on the music. If you really focus, you’ll find yourself lost in another world. All of life’s responsibilities can be forgotten. Sometimes that experience is really healing and what someone needs. 


Here are a few recommendations. I’ve linked the best part of the piece, so let’s go on an adventure:

What Beethoven Taught Me About Depression

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