Rosemary Brown: Music From The Immortals (Fraud or Medium?)

Rosemary Brown, transcribes music from deceased Composers?

After pondering (for a few days now) almost single-mindedly the notion that perhaps we are all in the sky before we are born, the fact that we could very-well be derivatives of the Giant of the "beanstalk," tossed down to earth after our ruptured births, the very tedious and untedious and imaginatively-focused buzzing in my mind—the fact that we may very well land on cardboard boxes with soft blankets inside for comforting our newly-fresh bodies—the imagination had me swinging open the revolving-doors of my mind towards other "spiritual" things (perhaps even a promiscuous folly of sorts, beyond the groupuscules and mascots), all-the-while, as will be said, all characterized by a certain ambiguity between interiors and exteriors with regards to what one wants to believe versus what, and where, the Reality is fastened in one's hula-hoop of idealogies and sophisticative-"thinkership."

With such a broad and somewhat silly notion (depending on what one wants to consider "silly"), I had recalled a memory in which, after listening to various classical music pieces for the evening, had linked my Birth-ideas of imaginative story-telling with other spirit-mediums (which I often find to be completely demonic, more than "ghostly"), and this time, with a fascinatingly-interesting story that has always held speculation (Dave Von Kleist: "If you're not on somebody's watchlist, you're not doing your job"), as with any subject, whether broad or shrinkable, the peculiar (and very obscure) story of Rosemary Brown (27 July 1916 - 16 November 2001), who "was a spirit medium who claimed that dead composers dictated new musical works to her. She created a small media sensation in the 1970s by claiming to produce works dictated to her by Liszt, Brahms, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Grieg, Debussy, Chopin, Schumann and Ludwig van Beethoven."

Dead musicians that she communicated with providing her with "unwritten" pieces of music for her to learn and to perform? How uniquely-refined (and shaped) I had thought—this immediate fascination with perhaps a perfect blend of drawing attention and making oneself feel empowered by creating controversy? Then again, where else would the "proof" come from if it weren't right there before our eyes?

From a selection in her autobiography, Rosemary wrote:

"The first time I saw Franz List [sic] I was about seven years old, and already accustomed to seeing the spirits of the so-called dead. For some reason he never said who he was that morning. I suppose he knew I would eventually see a picture of him somewhere and would recognize him . . . He then said: ‘when you grow up I will come back and give you music.’"

Franz Liszt

When Igor Stravinsky appeared to Rosemary 14 months after his death and dicated 60 lines of music, she was not surprised. For he was, she said, the 20th dead composer or author to use her extraordinary talent.
It was only at the age of 7 that she was introduced to the "wonderful world" of dead musicians (imagine!). A spirit with long white hair and a flowing black cassock appeared and told her he was a composer and would make her a famous musician one day (perhaps an angel?). Rosemary basically didn't have any idea who this "ghost" was until around 10 years later when she saw a picture of none other than Franz Liszt.
Rosemary's Mother and Grandmother were both psychic (although I personally don't believe in psychics) and she had supposedly told her parents of events before her birth, and when she was asked how she could know, she would reply that her "visitors" had told her. Listz, being that it may be the case, wasn't one of these "visitors," and in fact, he didn't appear to her until 1964. By this time, Rosemary had married and raised two children, while living in a beautiful Victorian terraced house in London; not to mention the fact that she was now a middle-aged widow.

Before 1964, she paid very little attention to music and had had very minute and small amounts of "instruction" in it. In fact, after the war had subsided, she purchased a second-hand piano and began taking lessons for about a year, even though many people were thoroughly not impressed by her "playing skills." Then, suddenly, in 1964, Liszt returned and "renewed" his "contact" with her, and original compositions began flooding in from a random-array of great musicians of the past. Rosemary transcribed these pieces from Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and, of course, Listz himself (all of these as previously mentioned before). Of these included a 40-page Schubert sonata, a Fantasie Impromptu in three movements by Chopin, 12 songs by Schubert, and 2 sonatas by Beethoven, as well as his 10th and 11th Symphonies (both of them unfinished).

Apparently each composer had their own "special way" of dictating to Rosemary. Liszt, for instance, "controlled her hands for a few bars at a time, and then she wrote down the notes." Others, such as Chopin, "told her notes and pushed her hands onto the right keys." Schubert, is said to have tried to sing his compositions to her, but she stated that it was impossible for her because he didn't have a very good voice. Beethoven and Bach "simply dictated the notes, a method that she disliked since she had no idea of what the finished product would sound like." From the source, it states that they all spoke to Rosemary in english, which, as she says, didn't surprise her whatsoever: "Why shouldn't they have gone on learning on the other side?" she asked. However, when agitated, "they were liable to relapse into their native tongues" in which Beethoven would often spout Mein Gott! when they were perhaps hard at work and the doorbell would ring, disturbing the dictations.

Here and Here are two wonderful, wonderful sites in regards to it, in which you can actually hear some pieces from these so-called Transcribings!

Rosemary Brown

Criticism: "The opinions of musical critics were varied on the merit of Rosemary's transcriptions. But most agreed that in their style they bore a great resemblance to the composers' published works. Forgeries and imitations had frequently been made in the past, but considerable musical knowledge is thought to be required for this. Mrs. Brown maintained that she had never had any musical training aside from a few piano lessons. It was suggested that she may have had advanced musical training but then forgotten it in a bad case of amnesia. This suggestion was, however, described as preposterous by the Browns' family doctor. Brown's musical skill was such that she was unable to play many of the pieces she claimed had been dictated to her. Rosemary was thoroughly investigated by both musicians and psychologists. None could find any way in which she could be cheating.

Other explanations were put forward. One was that the composers had left behind them unknown, written music and that Rosemary was able to read these sheets, unwittingly using a form of telepathy.

Another suggestion was that she picked up music from people around her by telepathy. However, she did not spend her time in the company of musicians who might have been composing works in the manner of Bach and Brahms.

Of the music itself, Richard Rodney Bennett, the British composer, said: "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."

Hepzibah Menuhin, the concert pianist and sister of Yehudi Menuhin, was also impressed. She insisted: "There is no question but that she is a very sincere woman. The music is absolutely in the style of these composers."

Alan Rich, music critic of New York magazine, took a different line. Having heard a privately issued record of piano pieces allegedly by the spirits of several dead composers, Rich concluded that they were just sub-standard reworkings of some of their better-known compositions. In 1969 she was put to a test by the British Broadcasting Corporation, who set her at a piano where she waited for the spirit of Liszt to appear to her. In due course she produced a piece, supposedly dictated by Liszt. As it proved too hard for her to play, another pianist was engaged to play it. The piece was subsequently studied by a Liszt expert, who said it had definite similarities to the great composer's work. A recording of some of the music produced by Brown (The Rosemary Brown Piano Album) was released, and various books by her (including Unfinished Symphonies: Voices from the Beyond) were published."

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