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October 2021

Aphasia in Maurice Ravel

Journal/Book: Bull Los Angeles Neurol Soc. 1976; 41: 109-14.

Abstract: A selective loss of language resulting from left hemisphere cerebral lesions is familiar to all neurologists but only rarely does such a deficit allow preexisting extraordinary capabilities of the right hemisphere to emerge. A retrospective case history of French composer Maurice Ravel demonstrates such a right-sided cognitive system. At 58, Ravel was struck with aphasia, which quelled any further artistic output. Most strikingly, he was able to think musically but unable to express his ideas in either writing or performance. Hemispheric lateralization for verbal (linguistic) and musical thinking offers an explanation for the dissociation of Ravel's ability to conceive and to create. What makes Ravel's history interesting to the public as well as to physicians is not only the tragic toll exacted in this composer's personal and creative life but also the resultant loss of the output of one of the 20th century's towering musical geniuses.

Keyword(s): Aphasia|HI. Famous Persons|. Music|HI


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