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Odd Deaths of the Music World IV

Musicians are no stranger to living the life or torment and unhappiness, and Hugo Wolf is no different. In this article, you will learn about the life and end of the musical child prodigy, as well as the strange end to a composer named Chausson.

Hugo Wolf (1860 to 1903)

The German composer led a life filled with sadness and pitfalls. Although he was a child prodigy and was well versed in violin, composition and piano, he had a hard time completing his studies. He was plagued by mood swings, depression and a rebelliousness that made musical institutions turn their back on him.

He still survived because noted patrons financially backed the musician. His songs mainly concentrated on voice and piano, and he harbored a love for poetry. Wolf had a desire to incorporate music and poetry , something other composers did not do too often. He often openly criticized other composers that he viewed as inferior. Because of this, he made quite a few of enemies. Some of his opponents included Anton Rubenstein and Johannes Brahms.

From 1888 to 1892, Wolf was quite prolific as a composer. He creates such works, like the Morike-Lieder and Goethe-Lieder. He wrote songbooks in Spanish and Italian. His talents were gradually recognized by others, but by early 1897, Wolf started to show signs of mental derangement associated with syphilis. In time, he had to cease his composing. Before he requested to be sent to an insane asylum, he had tried to drown himself. Eventually, he died at the asylum and had gone totally mindless in the process.

Before Wolf went into the asylum, he had an affair with the wife of his good friend and patron Heinrich Kochert. The affair with Melanie was exposed. But Heinrich still remained friends with the composer. Melanie also visited Wolf on a frequent basis while he was in the institution. When he died, she was filled with such grief (and guilt over the affair), that she committed suicide in 1906.

Ernest Chausson (1855 to 1899)

Who would have thought that a bicycle could be so dangerous? Chausson was a composer of well-known works that included an array of songs and orchestral pieces. He was born into a wealthy family and originally sought out a career in law, which made him unhappy , so he turned to music. When he was 25 years old, he embarked on a journey on that took him to studying at the Paris Conservatoire and gaining inspiration from the likes of Wagner and Brahms. During his musical career, he is credited with being the first composer to use the celeste , a keyboard instrument , in an orchestral setting.  Although Chausson did not create as much music as other composers, his works are still performed today on a regular basis.

When Chausson was riding his bike outside of his property in Limay, he lost control of the bike while on a downhill slope and crashed into a brick wall. This freak accident cost him his life , he died instantly.