The Curse of the Ninth
What superstitions do you believe in? You may say you don't buy into that, but do you walk around an open ladder instead of walking underneath? If so, you're not alone. Musicians can be very superstitious, too! The Rolling Stones cannot begin a show until they've shared a shepherd’s pie. The 27 Club is a well-known curse claiming the lives of a wealth of musical giants at their prime -- like Hendrix, Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. John Lennon was followed by the number 9 from his birth to his death.
Which brings me to my next point: The Curse of the Ninth.
Compose a 9th symphony if you dare, and you will die before ever composing a 10th. This superstition dates back to the 19th Century, claiming composers like Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert, Dvorak, Bruckner, and many more to follow.
In 1827, three years after finishing his Symphony No. 9, Ludwig von Beethoven passed away one thunderous night at 56 years old. He left behind an unfinished Symphony No. 10. Franz Schubert, an Austrian composer in his late-20s, was greatly influenced by Beethoven's work and deeply affected by the composer’s death. Schubert struggled with his deteriorating health for a few years, while also flourishing with creativity. In the last weeks of his life, he began to sketch three movements for a new Symphony in D major (Symphony No. 10), better known as Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. When he died, he was only 31 years old. In 1896, Anton Bruckner was the next to follow before he was able to finish composing his 9th symphony. Antonin Dvorak died in 1904 after completing his 9th symphony.
Concerned that this was much more than coincidence, Gustav Mahler decided he wasn't about to suffer the same fate as his predecessors. After completing his 8th symphony, he wrote a piece of music, Das Lied von der Erde, that was, in essence, a symphony – but he refused to call it one. He then finished his 9th symphony, contracted pneumonia, and died in 1911 at age 51. So close!
Is The Curse of the Ninth real, or merely coincidence? You be the judge.
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