Opera Composer Tells of Psychic & Mediumistic Experiences
Posted on 04 January 2021, 9:40
In his 1929 book, A Curious Life, George Wehner (1890-1970) offers much food for thought relative to clairvoyance and trance mediumship, especially the speaking of foreign languages through a medium. Although I could find little else about Wehner, he does mention being studied by researchers representing the American Society for Psychical Research and comes across as a very sincere and credible person.
My internet search for Wehner turned up a report in the archives of the New York Public Library, describing him as an “eccentric, but prolific artist.” He was a composer, actor, writer, painter, and spiritualist who “who led an extraordinary varied, yet strangely productive life.” He produced many hit opera scores and his paintings were exhibited in various galleries. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Wehner grew up in Detroit and Newburgh, New York.
According to the archives report, Wehner began composing music at age five. Inspired by his interaction with an encampment of Ojibway Indians, he composed a four-act opera, which earned him a scholarship to the Michigan Conservatory of Music in 1908. He studied composition, theory and piano and later taught at the conservatory before moving to New York City during the 1920s. “His musical output became even more prodigious during the last two decades of his life, when he composed the music and wrote the librettos for fourteen operas,” the report states.
The first few chapters of Wehner’s book relate many psychic experiences during his childhood, including what today might be interpreted as encounters with “grays” those little beings often associated with UFOs. “[The strange creatures] were sometimes four or five feet in height, and they wore no clothing, being sort of halfway between human and animal,” he wrote. “They had rather short legs, long arms, and wide frog-mouths in their clumsy ill-shapen heads. Their eyes were also froglike and faintly luminous. In color, their skins, if they can be so called, were gray like the bark of the tree from which they came, or pale yellow, and sometimes greenish.” Wehner’s experience would have been around 1900, before other reports of grays, at least any I am aware of.
Wehner’s description of observing his mother’s death, when he was in his teens, is especially interesting. “A misty blue-white form, the counterpart of my mother’s, but radiant, like a blue-white diamond’s flame, was slowly rising from her body in the bed,” he wrote. “This form lifted at an angle, the feet rising higher than the head. The form now seemed to try to free itself, and after several tugs, the misty head separated from the body’s head, and the freed form righted itself in the air exactly as a log rights itself after it has been dropped into the water. For a second, I saw several arms and hands materialize in the air and reach downward to welcome the new-born soul. Then, like a shadow, the spirit-form of my beloved mother glided rapidly upward through a corner of the ceiling – and she was gone into the everlasting life of the Beyond!”
Of his music ability, Wehner explained that it came from inspiration, not study. In fact, when he began studying piano, theory, and harmony at the conservatory, he struggled with reconciling what came to him “inspirationally” with what he was being taught. While still a student, he was made assistant teacher of harmony and gave lessons to others on the piano.
It was while still attending the conservatory that Wehner suffered a strange illness, one involving many dizzy spells and which was diagnosed by a doctor as a nervous breakdown. The illness lasted for several months and the doctor told him that his recovery was doubtful. However, one morning he heard a loud voice telling him not to pay attention to the doctor and to resume his studies. He immediately began to recover. It wasn’t long thereafter that the parents of one of his students, both spiritualists, suggested to him that they believed him to be a medium. Until that time, Wehner had never associated his childhood clairvoyance with mediumship and had only a vague idea what a medium was.
While attending a séance with the student’s parents, Wehner observed the medium, Mrs. Marion Carpenter, speak in trance and at the same time found himself drifting off and seeing spirits. “A group of them were gathered behind the medium gazing fixedly at her as if concentrating upon her work,” he remembered. “Directly behind her stood the spirit of a man who appeared to be literally speaking into and through the back of her head.” Wehner then realized that his past experiences were similar and that he, too, must be a medium. He was then persuaded to give trance mediumship a try.
“I began to feel very drowsy,” he recalled his first experience. “We had said the Lord’s prayer and were singing hymns. It seemed churchy and monotonous to me, and as I saw nothing, and nothing seemed likely to happen, I decided to yield to my drowsiness. I went to sleep.” When he awoke, he was told by his friends that he had been in a trance and that many veridical messages had come through for his friends. An old Indian, White Cloud, had spoken and said he was Wehner’s guiding spirit and had been with him since birth. His mother also spoke, sending messages for her sisters and telling her son that his curious illness was a result of chemical changes in his body and were necessary for him to work as a trance medium.
Many trance sessions would follow. “We would sit for a short time in darkness, then in a subdued light. In those days it used to take quite a while – sometimes three-quarters of an hour before I would become entranced.” Wehner’s Aunt Lillian was part of their Saturday-night circle and was also mediumistic, producing etherealizations and partial materializations. “As a rule, these astral forms would emerge from the cabinet, although sometimes a misty mass would appear near Aunt Lillian and gradually rear or build itself up into the semblance of a human form,” Wehner recalled. “This always frightened Lillian very much. We never saw any distinct features, but the forms appeared to be men and women, and sometimes children. Often the forms of animals, usually cats and dogs, birds, and butterflies, would appear. We could see straight through the ethereal forms, but the materializations were more solid.”
Wehner added that only rarely could they distinguish the clothing worn by the spirits, but when they did, it was always plain ordinary clothing. “There were times too, when we did not bother to put up the curtains of the cabinet, and the forms would appear just the same, emerging from the corner where the cabinet should have been. Rapidly, we were becoming spiritualists.”
During a sitting with a medium referred to as Mrs. Tixier, Wehner observed mist-like substances floating around the room. “A few of these wraiths showed remarkably clear features, but most of them were indistinct and full of ghastly holes caused by lack of power to draw themselves a sufficient quantity of atoms from the mediums and the sitters,” he explained. “None of them appeared to linger, but passed rapidly through the walls, ceiling and floor, and many seemed to disintegrate in the air before our eyes.” He noted that not everyone in the room saw these manifestations with the same degree of plainness.
When World War I began in 1914, Wehner tried to enlist, but was rejected because his physical condition was not up to the required standards. “During these war years we had great difficulty with our Saturday night circles,” he recorded. “Our seances were besieged with the spirits of soldiers who had just passed over and who did not know that they were ‘dead’! Many believed they were still fighting, others sought their relatives, and some screamed or moaned in their suffering. We could not make them believe they were no longer on the earth. Spirits told us just how long the war would last, and their prophesies proved true.”
According to what Wehner was told upon coming out of trance, spirits spoke through him in German, French, Hebrew, Hindu, Yiddish, and an American Indian dialect. “In speaking foreign languages through me, spirits are not often able to speak them fluently, or for any length of time,” he explained his understanding of it. “But they are able with words and more or less broken phrases to make their ideas clear. The reason for this difficulty is, that I, the medium, do not know these languages. Therefore, before they can pronounce a word they have to create that thought in my brain, for the brain is their seat of control. But when they are speaking my own language they have but to touch the brain-cells already charged with the desired word-thoughts. It is like playing upon the keys of an organ. In reality spirits do not need to speak their own language at all. When they do so it is only to prove that they can, or to prove identity. Thought is a universal language, and spirits have but to think their thoughts into the medium’s brain and the ideas will automatically be expressed in the medium’s native language. Spirits have often sung their native folk-songs through me in the voices of both men and women.”
Wehner pointed out that he did not need to go into trance to receive messages, but his guides preferred it, explaining to him that in the unconscious state there is less chance of his own mind or subconscious mind coloring the messages. “With conscious clairvoyance, the medium hears what he is saying, and it is almost impossible for him to keep his mind from forming conjectures about what he is repeating for the spirit,” he further explained. “I know this to be true from my own clairvoyant readings.”
Asked about White Cloud, his chief guide, or control, and why so many American Indians filled that role, Wehner replied that his understanding was that they lived so close to the earth’s great currents and before contamination by the forces of civilization they had few real vices and natural psychical faculties that were not dulled. “In passing from their earthly bodies Indians did not at once progress to other planes,” he went on. “They remained near, and even on earth, constituting a spiritual part of the nature-forces they had loved and worshiped.”
As for music, Wehner claimed that the rhythms of jazz, with its dissonances and often primitive noises, create an atmosphere that too often attracts the undesirable kind of spirits. “It awakens the primitive instincts of the listeners and is too apt to stir the animal propensities…” One can only wonder what the yelling and screaming that passes for music today attracts or awakens.
Wehner concluded the book with a story related to him by his aunts relative to the passing of his 91-year-old grandmother. His aunts informed him that they heard his Grandmother Haslett exclaiming “Light-light-light.” They gathered in her room and found her sitting up in bed. “Look,” she said, “the beautiful light – can’t you see it filling my room?” But the aunts did not see it. The grandmother then stretched out her arms, one which had been paralyzed for eleven years and cried out joyously, “Oh, can’t you see them coming for me – mother, father, Ben?” (Ben was her husband.)
The grandmother then greeted her children and other relatives who had preceded her in death years before. “All my loved ones are here waiting,” she told the aunts. “It is the happiest hour of my life. At last I am going to them.”
Next blog post: January 18
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 12 Jan, 13:32
The book is currently unavailable at the U.K, “Bookseller’ sites. - AOD
Melvyn Willins’ book is available through BookFinder.com for about $20 (vs. the $214 that I’m guessing you may have seen on Amazon).
Mr. Willin can send me a commission if you buy…
Don Porteous, Tue 12 Jan, 00:03
Rick, that’s a good question to grapple with, since it lies at the heart, at least for me, of properly conceiving, as best we can, the relationship between the worlds of here and hereafter. Myers and others believed that the “natural laws” which apply to the physical universe, as we only partially understand them, affect our communication with the spiritual world, which, in turn, operates according to its own set of “laws.” Perhaps the most direct way to get at this is to say that ALL of reality, physical and spiritual, is ordered in some way and is ultimately of one piece (continuity). Thus, there is a “science,” a systematic process, in place throughout creation, one which determines what various things can or cannot do both in this world and the next. An opposing view, theologically expressed, would be that God can and DOES do anything he wants to do at anytime, which opens the door to outright miracles, not merely to the operation of laws or processes we have yet to discover. Michael, please correct me if I’ve misinterpreted or misstated something here.
Newton Finn, Sat 9 Jan, 17:39
Newton Finn @ 8 Jan, 15:45,
What is the “law of continuity”?
Rick Darby, Fri 8 Jan, 19:38
I admit that I have always been put off by the various attempts to communicate electronically with the departed, as if some sort of machine, rather than the very personal sensitivities of deeply human mediums, would provide the ultimate key to penetrating the veil. This has always struck me as an indirect and inadvertent form of the very materialism that such communication undermines. That said, if the law of continuity, applied by psychic researchers like Myers to spirit communications, does indeed hold even here, then I suppose the possibility of electronic communication across the veil might make sense. By the way, that paper of Eric’s mentioned in prior threads, applying relativity theory to spirit communications in a manner similar to many applications of quantum physics, is short, well-written, and worth a read, especially for those who believe that the law of continuity remains in full force both here and hereafter.
Newton Finn, Fri 8 Jan, 15:45
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 8 Jan, 15:32
It looks like I will have to save up for a copy of your book. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 8 Jan, 15:18
I don’t believe that improvisational piano music is usually of high quality. To me, it seems to be just ramblings over the keyboard, sometimes producing interesting melodies but usually producing just unconnected unstructured, albeit interesting sounds. Apparently what Shepherd did was to select a topic—-like the sinking of the Titanic—-and then emotionally improvise something which represented to him the event. Selecting a topic as Oriental or Egyptian would bring to mind what represented to him what those cultures and music should or would sound like. From my experience it is an interesting and sometimes creative exercise. – AOD
‘The Saturday Evening Post’ was a very popular magazine in America from the early 1800s up through the 50s perhaps when it declined in readership although it is still published several times a year. It was very popular for its cover pictures by artist Norman Rockwell and other artists during my generation and was primarily filled with short stories by up-and-coming writers. I have the copy published November 22, 1919 in which Pearl Curran published a short story “Rose Alvaro, Entrante” which she wrote by herself without the help of her muse—-Patience Worth. That short story in ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ is often used as evidence that Pearl Curran really wrote all of the novels, poems etc. purported to have been dictated by the spirit, Patience Worth.
By the way, ‘The Saturday Evening Post ‘ I have contains very tasteful advertisements which I think are worthy of framing they are so beautiful. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 8 Jan, 15:00
Amos, I am in possession of an advertisement for Edison’s Spirit Communicator taken from the Saturday Evening Post (wherever that is!)and claimed to have been advertised around the end of the First World War. It says: “Speak with the Departed! The perfect sound reproduction of long-lost loved ones from the Edison Spirit Communicator. The breakthrough of the Century! Now, you can be in direct contact with ones who have"passed over”. and there is a photo image of a man and woman looking startled, with a ghostly spirit between them.
Keith P in England., Fri 8 Jan, 10:55
In answer to your question Amos it’s “Music, Witchcraft & the Paranormal”.
As to “improvisatory” music this is very open to musical abuse. I can improvise in various styles, but the composers would turn in their graves so I don’t!
Melvyn Willin, Fri 8 Jan, 10:41
I think Shepherd’s [Grierson] last book was “PsychoPhone” in which he documented messages from beyond the veil from a number of luminaries, all of which, he claimed, were recorded through the “psycho-phone” sometime around 1921. I am not sure whether this was a devise of some sort or just Grierson’s dissociated self. It was reported that Thomas Edison was actively trying to invent a machine to record messages from the dead at this time so maybe Grierson had one of Edison’s “Psycho Phones”. Other reports suggest that Edison said this in jest and had not invented a means of communicating with the dead. It is stated that these messages were “recorded” but it is unclear what that really meant. Perhaps recorded just meant written down. It seems unlikely that Grierson would have used any kind of mechanical recording machine at that time but maybe he did. I have not heard of any existing recordings of spirit communications made by Grierson by means of a Psycho Phone.
See https://www.dailygrail.com/2020/06/ghost-boxes-and-psycho-phones/ for a more article about the “PsychoPhone”
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 7 Jan, 20:57
I have skimmed through some of the messages—-some from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, U.S. Grant, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and others—-and actually they are very cogent, some of them memorable and quotable. - AOD
Melvyn, good question, but I could ask the same question about the psychical research of the time. As those who have really studied it see it, the research that took place between 1850 and 1935 is much better than that of the past 85 years and yet few of today’s researchers know much about it.
Michael Tymn, Thu 7 Jan, 18:57
In my opinion I don’t believe that improvisational piano music is very difficult to perform. I have played the piano for more than 70 years and I can play improvisational piano music very easily. Although I took lessons for many years I think that those who play “by ear” as I do may find it easier to improvise at the piano. My sister who also plays the piano and has a degree in music is very rigid in her playing style and very knowledgeable of music theory, chording etc. She finds it very difficult to just let her fingers roam over the keyboard playing creatively. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 7 Jan, 14:57
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 7 Jan, 14:48
Shepherd’s music was improvisational and I don’t believe it was ever written down nor am I aware that there were any recordings made of it as it was performed at a time when recording machines were not available. What is the name of your book, I would like to get a copy of it.- AOD
I have a PhD in the subject of music and the paranormal; have written a book about it; and am about to publish an encyclopedia later this year. For about 30 years I have studies alleged paranormal music phenomena and found the biggest problem to be that although the music is usually praised by the public at large, the academic and musical fraternity are rarely impressed - this would include me, BUT with a few exceptions. If the music of Weher, Shepard and many others was so good why hasn’t it been kept for researchers to scrutinize and ultimately praise and promote?
Melvyn Willin, Thu 7 Jan, 09:52
It may be that child prodigies are a result of spirit overshadowing. Dr. Charles Richet, the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, reported on the strange case of Pepito Arriola, when, at age 3 years, 3 months, he performed at the Psychological Congress in Paris during 1900. Richet stated that the boy played brilliantly on the piano. “He composed military or funeral marches, waltzes, habaneras, minuets, and played some twenty difficult pieces from memory,” Richet wrote. “A hundred members of the Congress heard and applauded him.”
It was further reported that little Pepito’s hands could not stretch more than five notes, yet he appeared to sound full octaves. Some onlookers said that his hands seemed to increase in size during the playing, and Rosalie Thompson, a clairvoyant, claimed that she saw the child dissolve into the figure of a man while at the piano.
As Pepito’s mother was an accomplished musician, one might conclude that the boy’s gift was genetic. However, the mother stated that she did not teach him. Her first awareness of the boy’s talent was when he was just 2 ½. She heard one of her own difficult pieces being correctly played, entered the room, and found her son at the piano.
Michael Tymn, Wed 6 Jan, 20:49
Genetics may be a factor in that the spirits seem to seek out a person who as the innate ability for whatever it is they are trying to impart. Spirit operators explained to medium William Stainton Moses that because he had no real musical appreciation, they could not produce proper music through him. Communicating spirits told French researcher Allan Kardec that such spirits are inclined to influence those with whom they have a certain “affection.”
I agree with Chris and thus favor the overshadowing explanation over that of reincarnation. The genetics theory must also be considered. It didn’t work in my case, however. My father, my grandfather, and great-grandfather all had musical ability without apparent lessons. That gene skipped me, however, as I have no musical ability.
Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Jan, 21:22
Yes, Amos, Shepard was clearly a marvel. I wrote about him before, although I don’t remember when or for what publication. He performed on the piano in Great Britain, Australia, France, Russia, Germany, the United States, and other countries, often before royalty. He also sang and it was said that his voice filled cathedrals. However, he performed mostly in the dark and always while in a trance state. Occasionally, the piano could be seen playing without Shepard’s hands on it. In the normal (non-trance) state, he could neither play nor sing.
Reporting on a performance that took place on September 3, 1893, Prince Adam Wisniewski stated that the second piece played by Shepard that night was a rhapsody for four hands, by Liszt and Thalberg. “Notwithstanding this extra ordinarily complex technique, the harmony was admirable, and such as no one present had ever known paralleled, even by Liszt himself, whom I personally knew, and in whom passion and delicacy were united. In the circle were musicians who, like me, had heard the greatest pianists in Europe, but we can say that we never heard such truly supernatural execution.”
Of Shepard’s voice, Professor M. Bernardin Rahn said that it was very unique. “There is no imitation of it possible,” he added. “The compass of the voice can have nothing likened to it. A bass of profound depth, full expression, is first heard. Thereupon it is answered by a soprano, which attains the utmost heights with clear and thrilling notes. Brilliant shakes follow the most amazing staccato.”
According to Professor J. Kiddle of New York, Shepard was not only a gifted trance musician, but also gave trance addresses in English, French, German, Latin, Greek, Chaldean, and Arabic, dealing with scientific, philosophical, and social subjects. He also wrote two volumes of discourses. Renowned Belgian author Maurice Maeterlinck, the 1911 Nobel Prize winner in literature, said that he knew of nothing in literature more admirable or more profound.
Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Jan, 21:14
Thanks for this Mike. New to me. The English composer Cyril Scott has a similar story to tell. More of a theosophist than spiritualist, with communications from one or other of the ascended masters, quoted in his autobiography “Bone Of Contention”, his life was full of occult and esoteric experiences, some of which were written about and others translated into music of one form or another.
Gordon Phinn, Tue 5 Jan, 20:04
One more thing Michael. I notice that so many of these American Indian controls or guides go by an English name, e.g. White Cloud. Is there any of them that give their name in their native language? If they were actually the spirit of an American Indian I would think that they might give their Indian name rather than an English one. Well, apparently they all knew how to speak English as that is the language they communicated in. Or, maybe there is an auto-translator in the spirit world. I know, I know, they have to go through the medium’s brain and it is the medium who does the translation I guess, That is, except when the communication is by direct voice. Very confusing, I think! - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 5 Jan, 17:12
On reincarnation maybe this is usefull:
Chris(Belgium), Tue 5 Jan, 16:12
Its seems that it is not the individual who reincarnates but a (mostly different) part or segment of one soul. The individual is only such a part of one soul as I understand it. Individuality does not cease to exist within the soul. I think the groupsoul here means a group of segments within one soul. (Excuse me if my English isn’t flawless, my home language is Dutch.)
As I recall, Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard, aka Francis Grierson (1848-1927) reportedly also received creative inspiration or communication from known composers. Grierson was an interesting eccentric improvisator at the piano who entertained in New York, Boston and Baltimore in 1868. He went to Paris in 1869 where he enjoyed immediate acclaim playing at many Parisian salons. He returned to the United States where he held séances with Madam Blavatsky. He became a world traveler meeting artists and royalty and giving recitals in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden, Stuttgart, and Karlsruhe. He returned to the United States after living in London where he began to write, eventually writing eight books. After returning to the United States he lectured on Theosophy and gave public recitals while he continued to write. I read one comment, true or not, that the piano played with the lid closed when he was present.
Grierson died while sitting upright at the piano following a recital for donations as he had become destitute to the extent that, according to some reports, he apparently died of malnutrition. In, a book by Harold P. Simonson titled “Francis Grierson” Simonson quotes Grierson’s long-time companion Lawrence Waldemar Tonner:
“He [Grierson] turned to the instrument and announced that the next and last piece of the evening would be an Oriental improvisation, Egyptian in character. The piece was long and when it seemed to be finished he sat perfectly still as if resting after the ordeal of the tremendous composition. He often did that, but it lasted too long and I went up to him—-he was gone!”
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 5 Jan, 15:30
There is a lot to know about Shepard/Grierson that would make another good blog article or perhaps another book. - AOD
Thanks to all for the comments so far. Rick mentioned Erich Korngold. I had not heard of him before. Reincarnation is definitely one possible answer, but spirit overshadowing is still another. The best-known case of musical overshadowing may be that of Rosemary Brown, a widowed London housewife who, beginning in 1964, purportedly received compositions from the spirits of many great composers, including Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, and Debussy. Although Brown had taken some piano lessons, she had no real talent and was unacquainted with the technicalities of writing notes. Mediumistic since her childhood, Brown was supposedly contacted by Liszt and told that a group of composers from the spirit world would be using her to dictate new compositions through her by means of automatic writing. “You have sufficient training for our purposes,” Liszt told her. “Had you been given a really full musical education it would have been no help to us at all.”
Liszt further explained that a full musical background would have been an impediment to them as she would have had too many theories and ideas of her own that they might not have been able to overcome.
All that seems to be consistent with what Wehner said about his studies conflicting with his inspiration.
Brown proceeded to produce many musical works, all of which were well beyond her previous capabilities. She went on to perform on both British and American TV. Music critics were divided as to whether her music resembled or approached that of the old masters. “I’ve no doubt she’s psychic,” said composer Richard Rodney Bennett. “She’s told me things about myself she just couldn’t have known about. I was having trouble with a piece of music and she passed along Debussy’s recommendation – which worked….A lot of people can improvise but you couldn’t fake music like this without years of training. I couldn’t have faked some of the Beethoven myself.”
Renowned pianist Hephzibah Menuhin was also impressed. “The music is absolutely in the style of these composers,” she said.
Communicating through direct-voice medium Leslie Flint in 1956, Chopin mentioned having been aware, during his earth life, of some kind of beings giving him inspiration and assistance while he was composing. In fact, he gave that as his reason for making so much effort to contact those on earth. That is, he was grateful for having had help and he wanted to extend any help he could to others.
My Google search for Wehner turned up something to the effect that some of his works seemed original but others seemed to be produced by a “copyist.” If he was inspired by spirits, that makes sense, I think. Rosemary Brown made no secret of it and it appears that even Chopin admitted to it. Where does overshadowing leave off and plagiarism begin?
Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Jan, 05:10
Fascinating article, Michael.
l was curious to see if any of the music he wrote was being played today. I searched my Spotify account and nothing turned up. I then searched Google and found a very brief obituary in the New York Times and an article describing a sitting he held in 1921. Other than that, total obscurity, as if he were the most ordinary of mortals—and after all those operas he wrote. A humbling lesson here for all of us.
Stafford Betty, Mon 4 Jan, 21:12
I agree with Keith, Mike. Good on you for doing original research about a figure who adds to and supports our understanding of mediumship.
Another, more famous, composer whose work seems to derive inspiration from paranormal sources is Erich Korngold. He left his imprint on the musical world, and it is possible that had it not been for difficult circumstances—mainly, having to escape to America from Austria as the Nazi regime loomed over Europe—his accomplishments would have rivaled those of Mozart.
He is probably best known today for having written the scores for popular films of the ‘30s and early ‘40s. But his career began as a classical composer, and he continued in that vein after retirement from Hollywood.
The very young Korngold demonstrated musical abilities that astounded everyone around him. As the Korngold Society says in its potted biography (and the facts are corroborated elsewhere):
“Already having played the piano from a very early age, the young prodigy composed his first original works in 1905 at the age of eight. Demonstrating a phenomenal musical precocity towards music, Korngold was taken by his father in 1906 to meet and play for Gustav Mahler. Proclaiming the child a genius, Mahler encouraged the elder Korngold to engage the renowned composer Alexander von Zemlinsky as the boy’s mentor.”
Like Mozart, Korngold seemed to be born with a musical soul that no child could have acquired through ordinary development, that could not be explained by talent or even genius.
The Manchester Guardian of December 12, 1912 carried an account of a visit to the home of the young Korngold by a writer called W.P. Price-Heywood. The Guardian article, along with a statement by the writer, was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in its April 1913 issue (https://bit.ly/3pNU51s) under the heading, “Musical Prodigies and Automatism.”
“What impresses one in K.‘s music is its maturity; it is a man’s music, not a boy’s; it has the passion, the yearning, the sadness, the serious thought, of the man who has seen life in many phases. K. has not attended more than ten orchestral concerts in his life; certainly he has not filched his musical ideas from other moderns; as I have said, he will not listen to other people’s music ...
“No creative musical talent has been known in the family. For an explanation one is almost forced to fall back upon the hypothesis of reincarnation. Is it possible that this boy genius came into the world fully equipped as a first-class musician, and all that he had to do before starting upon his new career was to run rapidly over the old lessons and regain what he had temporarily forgotten? This is the Platonic idea that all knowledge is reminiscence. In Germany people are actually asking, ‘Has Eric Wolfgang Korngold lived before as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?’”
While Korngold’s dazzling precocious abilities doubtless emerged from some unconscious mental level, I do not think this explains how a youngster could demonstrate attributes and—even more significant—emotions that were simply beyond his years. They may have been “stored” subliminally, but what was their original source? A previous life as a great musician is one possibility, as it may have been for Mozart himself.
Rick Darby, Mon 4 Jan, 21:04
Another excellent blog based on original research. It takes effort and persistence to locate and uncover these obscure texts, but each adds more insights into the understanding of humanity’s natural psychic gifts. Good job, Mike’ and thanks for doing this research
Mike Schmicker, Mon 4 Jan, 18:28
As Keith indicates, what a wonderful post to kick off the New Year! Among its insights and interesting bits of history, this sentence, in particular, was of timely help to me. “Wehner pointed out that he did not need to go into trance to receive messages, but his guides preferred it, explaining to him that in the unconscious state there is less chance of his own mind or subconscious mind coloring the messages.” We each put this spiritualism stuff together in our own way, as no doubt we’re intended to do, and in this comment of Wehner I found a key to why I find myself so deeply moved by Myers’ “Human Personality” but somewhat less so by “Road to Immortality.” Surely, I can hear Myers’ voice in the latter, but I also detect the intermixed or overlaid voice of Cummins (which is not to disparage its own wisdom and beauty). I’ll talk more about this later, but I have come to suspect that the Patience Worth phenomenon (and thanks, AOD, for prompting me to get Prince’s book), is the rarest of gifts—an opportunity to hear directly, in both its fullness and its purity, the stunningly sublime voice of a highly-developed spirit.
Newton Finn, Mon 4 Jan, 15:49
Mike is a genius, summarising a 400 page book in under 2,000 words. Fascinating, thank you. Unfortunately it is a very expensive book in the UK, over £30 for a paperback. This makes Mike’s summary even more valuable !
Keith P in England, Mon 4 Jan, 12:00
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