It begins with Caroline Yale, who doesn't actually have anything to do with music... I have been contributing to Apprentice Shop Books' Notable American Women Series. The series spotlights 25 women from each state. I researched deaf education pioneer Caroline Yale (Vermont), and that sent me off on this little rabbit trail.
During my Yale research travels, I ran across the name of Nobel prizewinning deaf scientist Charles Jules Henri Nicolle, who discovered that body lice were carriers of typhus. I'd like to write about him, but I haven't had time to do the research yet.
While I was making note of Nicolle, I thought of a book I wanted to read to my second grade tutee. It's by Jonah Winter (writer) and Barry Blitt (illustrator) about the world's most famous deaf composer:
Which brought me to another composer who lost his hearing -- Bedřich Smetana. He composed the Vltava (video below) shortly after he became deaf. The piece is part of a set of six symphonic poems. He explains:
The composition describes the course of the Vltava [River], starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe.
Over the years, I have been impressed with Czech musicianship. Play this loudly and you'll hear what I mean -- they are flawless:
* A Mental Floss post about five deaf composers (including Smetana).
* Jazz singer Mandy Harvey lost her hearing during her freshman year at university, but she's still singing.
* Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie.
* Free musical scores for Vltava.
* I think I got the "rabbit trail" terminology from Lissa.