The Curse of the Ninth Symphony.

Beethoven 9th Symphony


There has been a popular statement circulating for about a year:  “There are no coincidences.”  Oh drat.  I was about to call the events I am noting below a series of unbelievable coincidences.

The existence of curses is questionable, but since I can’t call the events coincidences (there are none), maybe I could actually get away with calling  them curses.  The Curse of the Ninth Symphony—several were victims of this enigma.  They were musicians, composers, conductors, some famous and some not, who died during the writing of their ninth symphony, or during the time before they were able to write a tenth symphony.

Ralph Vaughan Williams was trained at the Royal College of Music in London.  He wrote many different kinds of music.  He had completed his ninth symphony when he died in 1958.

Gustav Mahler died in 1911.  In the moments right before death he pantomimed directing an orchestra with an imaginary baton.  The last word uttered by this musical genius was reportedly, “Mozart.”  Mahler was Bohemian and at one time had been a conductor in Prague, composer of many different works.  He succumbed from a weak heart pushed past its limits.  He had completed his ninth symphony at the time of his death.

Aleksander Glazonov was reminiscent of a savant.  He was known for being able to reproduce a work of music after hearing it only one time.  He began his symphony writing at the young age of sixteen, and in 1906 he completed his eighth symphony.  His ninth symphony was a work in progress that he worked on for years and years.  When he died in 1936 at the age of seventy-one, he had only completed the first two movements.

Anton Dvorak was another lifelong musical genius who had performed since age eight.  His immersion in music included teaching, composing, conducting and directing at the National Conservatory for Music in New York.  His last work was an exceptionally beautiful piece, From the New World.  It was also known by the name Symphony No. 9 in E minor.  He died in 1904 from a kidney-related illness.

Anton Bruckner did not want to be a schoolmaster like his father, but he did so to please his family.  When his father died, he felt free to follow his heart and went into music through a monastery.  He was active in the music program of the Monastery of St. Florian in Linz, Austria, mastering many instruments and writing religiously-inspired music.  He died in 1896 during a period of time when he was finishing his ninth symphony.  He later became well-known for his sacred music.

Ludwig Von Beethoven, the most recognizable of all, died in 1827 after having gone downhill with many ailments for years, including deafness.  Another lifelong musical genius, he died shortly after completing his Ninth  Symphony.

I have had a music-writing hobby since I was in grade school, but  I am steering clear of a ninth symphony.

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