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September 1, 2015by emilylowe

Remembering Oliver Sacks: Connecting Music and the Mind On Sunday, August 30, Oliver Sacks, English neurologist and author, passed away at 82. He spent his final days surrounded by family and doing what he loved- writing to friends, swimming, playing the piano, and completing articles published in the New York Times and the New Yorker....

Remembering Oliver Sacks: Connecting Music and the Mind

On Sunday, August 30, Oliver Sacks, English neurologist and author, passed away at 82. He spent his final days surrounded by family and doing what he loved- writing to friends, swimming, playing the piano, and completing articles published in the New York Times and the New Yorker.

After earning his medical degree in 1960, Sacks moved to San Francisco to complete an internship before moving to New York to become a professor of neurology at NYU in 1965. While in New York, he worked with the Beth Abraham Health services and provided the foundation for the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF), serving as the honorary medical advisor and receiving the first “Music Has Power Award” in 2000.

One of Sacks’ later publications, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” explores the power of music over the mind. In this book, Sacks used experiences from patients, musicians and everyday people to explore music’s power. He talks to a man struck by lightning who is suddenly inspired to be a pianist, a group of children hyper musical from birth, and also to Andrea Seabrook (NPR correspondent) about the brain’s relationship with music.

In a beautiful tribute to Sacks’ life and writings, Maria Popova writes, “He knew that the life of the mind and the life of the body were one, and understood that music married the two- an understanding he carried in his synapses and his sinews.” Popova goes on to write about how Sacks saved his own life with music while running from a raging bull in a Norwegian fjord, commemorated in his 1974 memoir, A Leg to Stand On.

“I had no room now for this fear, or for any other fear, because I was filled to the brim with music.”

While he may no longer be physically with us, Oliver Sacks’ writings will live on as a testament to his brilliance and the overwhelming power that music has and will continue to have over our minds.

 

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