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Observations placeholder

Schumann, Robert - Hearing one note played constantly



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Clara Schumann, an Artist’s Life [translator Grace Hadow and Joscelyn Godwin]

From the night of Friday the 10th February, 1854 until Saturday the 11th, Robert [Robert Schumann the composer] suffered from so violent an affection of the hearing that he did not close his eyes all night.  He kept on hearing the same note over and over again, and at times also another interval.  By day it was covered up by other sounds.  On the night of Sunday the 12th, it was just as bad again, and on the following day also, for the pain ceased only for two hours in the morning and at 10 o’ clock it began again.  My poor Robert suffers terribly!  Every noise, he says, sounds to him like music, a music more wonderful and played by more exquisite instruments than was ever heard on earth!  But naturally he is frightfully upset by it.  The doctor says he can do absolutely nothing.

The following nights were very bad – we hardly slept at all… He tried to work by day, but he could do so only at the cost of the most terrible effort.  He said frequently that if this did not cease, it would destroy his mind …. The affection of his hearing had so increased that he heard whole pieces as if played by a full orchestra, from beginning to end, and the last chord went on sounding until Robert fastened his thoughts on another piece. Ah! and one could do nothing to ease him!……

On the night of Friday the 17th, after we had been in bed for some time, Robert suddenly got up and wrote down a theme, which, as he said, an angel had sung to him.  When he had finished it he lay down again and all night long he was picturing things to himself, gazing towards heaven with wide open eyes; he was firmly convinced that angels hovered round him revealing glories to him in wonderful music…………..

He could not be persuaded that heavenly and infernal beings were not swarming around him; he certainly believed it when I told him that he was very ill….. but I never broke him for a moment from belief in the spirits; on the contrary, he said to me several times in a piteous voice

‘Clara, dear, you will believe me, I’m not telling lies’

Note:  A few days later Robert Schumann was to throw himself into the Rhine, after which he was confined to a mental asylum

The source of the experience

Schumann, Robert

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps