The surgeon got lost in Mahler. Thank God for the anaesthetist

The surgeon got lost in Mahler. Thank God for the anaesthetist


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2020

The best clip from the brain operation, in which Isle of Wight violinist Dagmar Turner played her instrument during critical bits, is to be found in the Times report:

While the surgeon cut away at the tumour, Ms Turner played a collection of random tunes including Summertime, Julio Iglesias’s Besame Mucho and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 5.

Professor Keyoumars Ashkan said: “My role as a surgeon was to make sure she played well, which means I had to know the song. I knew Summertime, I knew Julio Iglesisas but then she started playing Mahler’s fifth and I didn’t know it. Luckily the anaesthetist did.”

Which bit of Mahler 5, I’m wondering? Must be Adagietto.


  • Gustavo says:

    Why Mahler?

    Abteilung I: Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt … Adagietto (“Death in Venice”).

    Why not rather Saint-Saens’ Danse macabre?

  • Carlos Solare says:

    “Julio Iglesias’s Besame Mucho”? – I don’t think so.

    The song was written by Consuelo Velázquez. Come to think of it, it must be the most popular piece ever penned by a female composer.

  • Allen says:

    Perhaps he should have familiarised himself with the Resurrection, just to be safe.

    I’ll get my coat….

  • Gustavo says:

    The anaesthetist is probably familiar with Mahler 6…

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    His next patient will be playing bagpipes.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Is there an option for a general anesthetic or is it necessary to keep playing violin as a way for the surgeon to know he hasn’t actually done a lobotomy?

  • Nijinsky says:

    Unfortunately, Josef Hassid wasn’t fortunate enough to have any part of the medical establishment care what they were doing to his brain’s ability to share his inner world. In fact, on wikipedia, it says that a symptom of his “schizophrenia” was that he couldn’t recognize his friends; but wikipedia and the medical establishment fail to admit that it clearly was after he had had shock therapy and is a symptom of THAT rather than any disease. You knock someone out and/or beat them into terror and they have the same “improvement” in behavior that is seen with shock “therapy.” The more modern chemical “medical” ways of destabilizing the brains ability to express dissent if applied as they are advertised would rob us also of the whole oevre just about that this woman had at her disposal to show it was there for her to allow the medical establishment to see whether they were damaging her; and even the unconscious annoying nature of the process that might not have been liked by those who were conduits for it would have been turned off.

    I myself have found most precious healing in museums, I might have used to criticize the lack of change, when it’s one of the highest sources. As is art.

  • Hmus says:

    For many, anaesthesia and Mahler go very well together.