Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bach, Handel and their eyesight

It is well known that Bach and Handel both went blind late in life. I knew that they had operations by the same English surgeon which had been failures and left them blind. I looked up the wikipedia articles last week.

It turns out that both Bach and Handel suffered cataracts which are very easily treated now. It seems that in the 18th century all that could be done was that a hole was made in the cataract, and hope for the best, but many people were made blind by this operation.

It seems that Bach's operation may have left him with a stroke, which killed him shortly after.

Handel lived for some time after his operation, and had to dictate some of his final compositions to a copyist.

1 comment:

daharja said...

I don't even want to THINK what surgery in those days must have been like!

Scary.

But then, maybe Bach (at least) deserved it for those nasty weirdo runs he created in the Soprano line we were forced to endure last week in rehearsal!

(FYI, bars 38-39, 1st movement, Bach St. John's Passion).

Naaah, I'm being just a little mean. But someone should have told him, while he was composing that bit, "Stop it, or you'll go blind!"

;-)