16 min

This Composer is Sick: Let's Talk About Syphilis Artist Propulsion Lab

    • Music Commentary

This episode contains discussions of syphilis, its symptoms, and its transmission. If you are concerned you have syphilis or another sexually transmitted infection, you can find information about sexual health clinics in New York City here.
While an undergraduate at Juilliard, flute-player Emi Ferguson almost quit music to pursue epidemiology full-time instead. Even though she stuck with music, she is still fascinated by how disease can impact society, and especially how it can impact artists. Starting today, and for the next three episodes, join Emi as she dives into the health histories of several composers and their experiences with syphilis. She is joined by Dr. Sheila Lukehart, an emeritus professor at the University of Washington, who has worked on syphilis for over forty years. In this episode, Emi connects the dots between an Italian shepherd who upset Apollo, an angry Arnold Schoenberg in a Los Angeles grocery store (spoiler alert: he didn't have syphilis), and 1940s public health campaigns. 
“We Are Not Ashamed,” featuring Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.
Excerpts from "An emigré life" oral history by Marta Feuchtwanger provided by the Center for Oral History Research, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA (Tape XX, Side Two, August 15, 1975)
Additional thanks to the NYC Municipal Archives, the National Archives, and the New York Public Radio Archives for archival audio.

This episode contains discussions of syphilis, its symptoms, and its transmission. If you are concerned you have syphilis or another sexually transmitted infection, you can find information about sexual health clinics in New York City here.
While an undergraduate at Juilliard, flute-player Emi Ferguson almost quit music to pursue epidemiology full-time instead. Even though she stuck with music, she is still fascinated by how disease can impact society, and especially how it can impact artists. Starting today, and for the next three episodes, join Emi as she dives into the health histories of several composers and their experiences with syphilis. She is joined by Dr. Sheila Lukehart, an emeritus professor at the University of Washington, who has worked on syphilis for over forty years. In this episode, Emi connects the dots between an Italian shepherd who upset Apollo, an angry Arnold Schoenberg in a Los Angeles grocery store (spoiler alert: he didn't have syphilis), and 1940s public health campaigns. 
“We Are Not Ashamed,” featuring Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.
Excerpts from "An emigré life" oral history by Marta Feuchtwanger provided by the Center for Oral History Research, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA (Tape XX, Side Two, August 15, 1975)
Additional thanks to the NYC Municipal Archives, the National Archives, and the New York Public Radio Archives for archival audio.

16 min