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Observations placeholder

Goethe - The death of Goethe and celestial music



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 5


A description of the experience

Occult Review (1903, page 303), which translated it from Gartenlaube (1860).

This is the well-known episode of transcendental music that took place at Wolfgang Goethe's death bed

On March 22, 1832, at about 10 p.m., two hours before Goethe's death, a car stopped in front of the great poet's house; a lady stepped out and hurried in, trembling and asking the servant, "Is he still alive?"

She was Countess V., an enthusiastic admirer of the poet and always welcomed by him with pleasure, because of the comforting liveliness of her conversation. As she went up the stairs, she suddenly stopped listening; then she asked the servant, "How? Music in this house? Oh, my God! How can you make music on a day like this here?" The servant in turn listened, but he had become pale and trembling, and had answered nothing.

The Countess, meanwhile, had passed through the living room and entered the study, where she alone had the privilege of entering. Frau von Goethe, the poet's sister-in-law, went to meet her and the two women gave themselves up in each other's arms, bursting into tears.

Then the Countess asked: "But tell me, Ottilie; while I was going up the stairs, I heard music in your house; why? why? Maybe I was misled?

- "Did you hear it too?" Frau von Goethe answered, "it is inexplicable! since the dawn of today a mysterious music sounds from time to time, insinuating itself in our ears, in our hearts, in our nerves. Just then, from above, as if they came from a higher world, soft, sustained musical chords resounded, which gradually weakened until they faded away."

Simultaneously, John, the faithful servant, came out of the dying man's room, in a state of intense emotion, asking anxiously:

"Have you heard? Madam. This time the music came from the garden and resounded just at the height of the window."

"No," replied the Countess, "it came from the living room next door."

They opened the casement window and looked in the garden. A light and silent breeze blew through the bare branches of the trees; the sound of a chariot passing by on the road could be heard in the distance, but nothing was discovered that could detect the origin of the mysterious music. Then the two women entered the living room, from where they thought the music must have come, but without noticing anything abnormal. While they were still busy searching, another wonderful set of chords was heard, this time these chords seemed to come from the study.

The Countess, entering the living room, said: "I think I am not mistaken: it is a quartet played at a distance and fragments of which come to us from time to time. But Frau von Goethe in turn remarked: "It seemed to me, on the contrary, to hear the close and clear sound of a piano. This morning I was so convinced of this that I sent the servant to the neighbours, asking them not to play the piano out of respect for the dying man. But they all answered in the same way: that they knew very well what state the poet was in, and that they were too dismayed to think of disturbing his agony by playing the piano.

Suddenly, the mysterious music still resounded, delicate and soft; this time it seemed to take birth in the very room; but for one person, it seemed to be the sound of an organ, for the other person - a choral song, and for the third person - the piano notes.

Rath S., who at the time was signing the medical report with Dr. B. in the lobby, looked at his friend with surprise, asking: "Is this a concertina playing?" "It seems"; replied the doctor; "perhaps someone in the neighbourhood is thinking of having fun."

"But no, Bath S. replied; the one who plays is probably in this house."

Thus the mysterious music continued to be heard until Wolfgang Goethe breathed his last breath; sometimes resounding with long intervals, sometimes after very short interruptions, a bit in one direction, a bit in the other, but always seeming to come from the house itself, or very close to it; all the research and investigations performed to solve the mystery are still being carried out.


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