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Is this evidence of life after death?

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Schumann, the composer, died and left a violin concerto behind.  During a Ouija board session, he apparently asked for his missing concerto to be found and played.  This took place but many decades after it was "lost" and then put into storage. Is the story fake? Or is it coincidence?

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A concerto rises from the dead in 'Ghost Variations

A lost Robert Schumann masterpiece, which was rediscovered  in the 1930s thanks to messages from a Ouija board, inspired  Jessica Duchen’s extraordinary new book

schumann-hulton-getty.jpg Schumann's Violin Concerto, his last orchestral work, has had a chequered existence (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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When I first heard the story of how Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto came to light in the 1930s, I nearly fell off my chair.

This extraordinary piece, the composer’s last orchestral work, has had a chequered existence. After one airing by its intended soloist, Joseph Joachim, it languished in obscurity for nearly eight decades. Then in 1933 Joachim’s great-niece, the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi (one-time muse to Bartók, Ravel and even Elgar) claimed to have received spirit messages via a Ouija board begging her to find and perform it.

So bizarre was her quest – extending to the highest echelons of the Third Reich’s administration – that I’ve turned it into a novel, entitled Ghost Variations. The book has been taken up by the groundbreaking publisher Unbound and is due out this summer.

Jelly-D-Arangyi-Hulton-Getty.jpg
The violinist Jelly d’Aranyi, once a muse for Bartók and Ravel (Hulton Archive/Getty)

The reality is admittedly stranger than fiction. After Schumann’s death, his widow, Clara, put the concerto aside, fearing it might betray its composer’s increasingly unstable state of mind. Always prone to extreme highs and lows, Schumann may have been bipolar, or suffered from tertiary syphilis, or possibly both; academics remain divided on the nature of his malady, though most incline towards the syphilis explanation. In February 1854 he suffered a devastating breakdown and tried to drown himself in the Rhine. Having survived, he requested to go into a mental hospital. He spent his final two years in an asylum in Endenich, Bonn, and died there in July 1856.

Thereafter, it was up to Clara to decide which of her husband’s unpublished works should see the light of day. In consultation with her two right-hand men, Johannes Brahms and Joachim, she took time to make up her mind about the concerto. Finally she elected not to issue it. Joachim’s heirs deposited the manuscript in the Prussian State Library, placing what was thought to be a 100-year embargo on the work. Schumann’s daughter, Eugenie, insisted that in fact her mother wished it never to be played.

Jelly d’Arányi was 14 when her great-uncle Joachim died. Her elder sister, Adila Fachiri, likewise a celebrated violinist, had been Joachim’s pupil in Berlin. Fachiri was, as it turned out, a psychic “sensitive”, able to receive at considerable speed and intensity detailed “messages” in the then-fashionable Glass Game (ie, a home-made Ouija board).

Although d’Arányi herself claimed to have received the initial message, she rarely participated in such sessions. It was largely Fachiri and her friend Baron Erik Palmstierna, the Swedish Minister in London, who drove the search thereafter; Palmstierna himself unearthed the manuscript in Berlin; and his book Horizons of Immortality, based on “messages” interpreted by Fachiri, broke the news of the concerto’s revelation upon an incredulous and cynical public in September 1937.

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It is certainly evidence that people like ghost stories.

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No.

Now I know what evidence is... I have seen something, people may consider paranormal. I also know of other witnesses as well, which adds to the evidence of my own claim. I would not wish to discuss it these days, but essentially, the whole point of a good claim is that it has evidence. There was recent articles where the brain was measured to have activity, quite a few moments after death. Many articles proclaimed this was an after life death experience --- of course it isn't really... the brain is just dying at a slower rate than the rest of the body. If you are dying in those last moments it will not last long. And you are likely to be delusional anyway. 

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It is certainly a bloody good ghost story.  The missing concerto was known about by a number of Schumann's relatives and others, who may have sought a way to bring it to light again.  I heard it on BBC Radio 3 a few days ago and it is magnificent as a musical piece. However, I will just have to stick to relying on out of body experiences as an analogue to death and see if evidence can come to light about a "soul" floating up towards the ceiling. 

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The girl could have been lying, and pushing on the ouija board. Any time I've taken part, someone's been pushing. (or pulling).

Apart from the times that nothing was spelt out.

So the work was not destroyed, they knew it existed, they looked for it, and found it. That's not evidence of life after death.

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