Last night was our most recent hypnosis geek dinner here in Bournemouth and we have a new slot in the evening whereby we all share so-called facts and myths about hypnosis and discuss them.

Yesterday, the very brilliant Lindsay Shepherd offered up a bunch of stuff that got us all hotly debating, but it was her discussion and notes about Rachmaninov (1873-1943) that I thought I’d share with you today after she emailed me with them this morning.

His first symphony was a total failure: The critics were vicious. Rachmaninoff struggled unsuccessfully to continue composing, and finally stopped trying altogether. He sank into a deep depression which lasted for three years. “Something within me snapped,” he said. “All my self-confidence broke down…. A paralyzing apathy possessed me. I did nothing at all and found no pleasure in anything. Half my days were spent on a couch sighing over my ruined life. My only occupation consisted in giving a few piano lessons in order to keep myself alive.”

Finally, Rachmaninoff went to see Dr. Nicolai Dahl, Dr.Dahl was Russian psychiatrist who happened to be a pioneer in the field of hypnosis. Dr. Dahl was gaining a reputation for successfully curing people through autosuggestion, and had devoted his career to this work. Rachmaninoff, in his Recollections, described the scenario:

“My relatives had informed Dr. Dahl that he must by all means cure me of my apathetic condition and bring about such results that I would again be able to compose. “Dr. Dahl had inquired what kind of composition was required of me, and he was informed, ‘a concerto for pianoforte,’ for I had promised this to people in London and had given up in despair the idea of writing it. “In consequence, I heard repeated day after day the same hypnotic formula, as I lay half asleep in an armchair in Dr. Dahl’s study: ‘You will start to compose a concerto – You will work with the greatest of ease – The composition will be of excellent quality.’ It was always the same, without interruption. “Although it may sound impossible to believe, this treatment really helped me. I began to compose at the beginning of the summer. The material grew in volume, and new musical ideas began to well up within me, many more than I needed for my concerto….   “I felt that Dr. Dahl’s treatment had strengthened my nervous system to a degree almost miraculous. Out of gratitude I dedicated my Second Concerto to him.”

It has been 100 years since Rachmaninoff composed his Second Piano Concerto, and today, thanks to hypnosis, it remains one of the most exquisite and deeply moving pieces of music ever written.

About Dr Dahl

In Russian there is no sound for the letter H, so Dr Dhal would call Hypnosis – Gyp-nosis
Dr Dhal fled Russia in the early 1925, during the Russian revolution, he settled in Beruit where he died in 1939 aged 79. (In program booklets from Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999 and 2001 Dahl is referred to as being Norwegian. This assertion was later disclaimed in an article in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association.[1])

Interesting stuff, eh?

If you want to join us for our future geek dinners, get in touch. I will not be posting on the blog now for over a week as I am going to be away with my wife for much needed rest and recuperation in the countryside… I’ll be back in a week or so, don’t miss me too much!