Mesmerising Sounds: The Role of Music in Animal Magnetism

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Dr. Andreas Sommer, historian of the human sciences at Cambridge University, UK. View all posts by Sommer_HPS

4 responses to “Mesmerising Sounds: The Role of Music in Animal Magnetism

  • Peter Mulacz

    The article says “For instance, years later Franz Schubert seems to have played some of his piano music to aid mesmeric treatment in Vienna.” Mesmeric cures in Vienna ended shortly after Mesmer left for Paris (1778) as his wife (who remained in Vienna) continued treating the patients in his clinic. Then Mesmerism came to a still stand in Vienna. During the later years, Mesmer paid two visits to Vienna, the second one following his wife’s death (1790) yet nothing is known about contacts to any mesmeric colleagues there.

    So—as there was no continuity of Mesmerism at the turn of the century—the question arises: WHO carried out mesmeric cures in Vienna during the first third of the 19th century where Schubert (1797-1828) is said to have played his piano music?

    Peter Mulacz, Vienna

  • James Kennaway

    Hello Peter,
    There’s an interesting article on that subject.
    Hope that helps.

    • Peter Mulacz

      Hi James,

      thank you so much for alerting me to that paper; very interesting indeed. However, from the description of the situation it becomes quite clear that it was not a proper “mesmeric treatment” but rather a setting in the style of Puységur.

      Remember, during his Viennese time Mesmer used only the passes whereas in Paris he used mainly the Bacquet (and in addition music, preferrably by his glass harmonica, for enhancement of the effects).

      Somnabulism, trance states, prediction of the future development of the illness, trance prescription for other patients of remedies and cures—all this was brought into the later course of events in Animal Magnetism by Puységur and is totally alien to Mesmer’s original method.


  • James Kennaway

    Dear Peter,
    I’m glad you liked that article. I was using ‘mesmeric’ rather loosely, it’s true.

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