Vail: Music can mend the mind |

Vail: Music can mend the mind

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Sympoisum: Kogan said he believes that music has an enormous capacity to heal the spirit and mind and that he foresees an explosion in the use of music as a force for healing in the near future

VAIL, Colorado –The Vail Symposium explores the relationship between music and the mind.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s pieces have inspired generations of composers and performers in many different genres. Using the classical composer’s music and life story, Dr. Richard Kogan, psychiatrist and concert pianist, will illustrate how music can be used to overcome even the most challenging obstacles in our lives. Kogan speaks at Vail Mountain School during the Vail Symposium’s season of “Rethinking, Music and the Mind: Beethoven and the Power of Resilience.”

“Beethoven had to overcome extreme hardships in his life. He lost his hearing at a critical point is his career,” said Kogan.

The Impairment led Beethoven to thoughts of suicide, bouts of depression and alcoholism but also made him “retreat into the silent world of his imagination and (begin) to produce pieces that were extraordinary and different than anything ever heard before,” said Kogan.

Kogan is a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and is a frequent chamber music collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma. His medical training was at Harvard College, Harvard Medical School and New York University and he has done research on the connections between music and healing and the influence of illness on the creative process.

The event will include a lecture about Beethoven’s musical genius, the impact that hearing loss and mental illness had on his music, and his ability to overcome adversities like a difficult childhood. There will also be a discussion with the audience and Kogan will play selections of Beethoven’s music that he said will “chart his psychological journey and the inner workings of his mind” throughout his career.

Vail Symposium executive director Carrie Marsh invited Kogan to perform during this event because of his psychiatric and musical backgrounds and because of the current reevaluation and discussion on the impact of music on mental health.

“We need to learn how we can be resilient like Beethoven in times like these,” Marsh said.

Proof that residents of Colorado and the Vail Valley are not immune to troubled times and mental illness can be found in the state’s unemployment and suicide rates, Marsh said, and what better time to look at the positive effects that music and the arts can play in our lives than right now.

Kogan said he believes that music has an enormous capacity to heal the spirit and mind and that he foresees an explosion in the use of music as a force for healing in the near future.

“I want people to gain insight into the power of music and how individuals can cope and grapple with almost insurmountable obstacles using creativity,” Kogan said.

Kogan’s presentation will be followed by a special reception and dinner at the home of Todger Anderson in Vail. A trio comprised of members from the from the New York Philharmonic will perform Beethoven Serenade, Opus 25 for flute (Mindy Kaufman), violin (Fiona Simon) and viola (Irene Breslaw).

The evening will help raise funds to benefit the Vail Symposium to ensure that many of its programs can remain free.

What: An Educational Performance with Dr. Richard Kogan

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m., July 27. Dinner and a reception with a trio from the New York Philharmonic follows at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lecture is at Vail Mountain School; the reception is at a private residence

Cost: $25 ($20 for Vail Symposium donors) for the lecture; $125 for the lecture, reception and dinner.

More information: Call 970-476-0954 or visit

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