Shadows and darkness in the brain of a genius: Aspects of the neuropsychological literature about the final illness of Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)

Guido M. Cavallera, Simonettta Giudici, Luca Tommasi

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(10): MH1-8

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883470

Published: 2012-09-28

In 1948 the famous French neurologist Théophile Alajouanine published the article “Aphasia and artistic realization”, a landmark in the field of research about aphasia, which discussed the case of the composer Maurice Ravel (1875–1937). Since then, many researchers have explored the final illness of the composer. In 2003 Medical Science Monitor published 2 articles about the case. In this article we intend to present works published on the Ravel case, to discuss them, and to suggest a general overview on the topic.
        Many hypotheses have been proposed by researchers, but complete diagnosis is still an enigma, since no post-mortem was made. The most up-to-date perspective seems to point to comorbidity of superimposed elements, which might date back to the composer’s fragile youth.

Keywords: Humans, Male, History, 20th Century, History, 19th Century, France, Famous Persons, Brain - pathology, Aphasia - psychology, Music, Neuropsychology - history