Shostakovich - Oliver Sacks on the source of Shostakovich's inspiration
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sacks
The secret of Shostakovich, it was suggested – by a Chinese neurologist Dr Dajue Wang – was the presence of a metallic splinter, a mobile shell fragment in his brain, in the temporal horn of the left ventricle. Shostakovich was very reluctant apparently, to have this removed.
“Since the fragment had been there, he said, each time he leaned his head to one side he could hear music. His head was filled with melodies – different each time – which he then made use of when composing”
X-Rays allegedly showed the fragment moving around when Shostakovich moved his head, pressing against his ‘musical’ temporal lobe, when he tilted, producing an infinity of melodies which his genius could use.