Peculiarities & The Macabre

Life mask of composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Life Mask of Ludwig Van Beethoven. 1

Weird and outlandish, mysterious and eccentric. Often even, the morbid or grotesque. The piano has long enchanted some of the most unusual of devotees, and been the subject of much obsession.

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Detail of portrait of Robert Schumann, lithograph by Josef Kriehuber in 1839.

There are several conflicting theories of why Robert Schumann had persistent pain, numbness, and paralysis in his hand.

What's The Frequency, Orkin?, a fun video on music and termites.

Apparently, termites are more inclined to eat wood faster when listening to heavy metal music (but really, it’s all about the sound frequencies).

Illustration of a 'Cat Piano' from 1883.

The "Cat Organ," or "Cat Piano," was an idea attributed to, but probably not executed by, the German Jesuit Scholar, Anthanasius Kircher, S.J. (1602 – 1680), in an attempt to treat the mentally ill—perhaps, an unceremonious origin to the notion of "music therapy."

A piano created for bedridden people, 1935.

In Myrna Kaye’s book There’s a Bed in the Piano: The Inside Story of the American Home, she elucidates a “drive to maximize space through convertibility [that] is peculiarly American.”

Full view of the Klavins-Piano model 370, designed by David Klavins in 1987.

Up until 1987, the largest piano was the 1935 British Challen & Son Concert Grand built for King George V and Queen Mary’s silver jubilee—it is over 11 feet long.

Illustration of the Iowa state flag.
See what strange statute Iowa has in the books about a one-armed ivory tickler.
Caricature of Charles Darwin 'Man Is But A Worm.' by a Punch Magazine Artist, c. 1881-1882.

Endlessly fascinated by earthworms for most of his life, Charles Darwin finally culminated his interests in his last book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on Their Habits.

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Page Sources

Perky.  Reproduction, plâtre d'études (École des beaux-arts) du masque de Beethoven.  Photograph of Plaster.  Commons Wikiedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 Feb. 2008.  Web.  18 June 2019.  Public Domain.