Biography of Composer Medium Rosemary Brown Part 3

About the spiritual composer Rosemary Brown, biography and history of the medium who is visited by famous composers.

PEOPLE WITH STRANGE POWERS

The Heavenly Composer

Each composer dictates in his own way. Schubert sings his songs to her ("I'm afraid he doesn't have a very good voice," says Mrs. Brown). Bach and Beethoven prefer to tell her the notes while she writes them down, because they do not like her piano playing. Chopin calls off the notes as he pushes her fingers to the right keys.

The composers have not lost their distinctive personalities, though they've generally grown younger in their astral plane. Chopin likes to wear loud, modern clothes and has become addicted to television. Schubert is lovable and humorous. Though Liszt is a moody "fusspot" who disappears for weeks if he thinks he's been insulted, he loves to shop with her in supermarkets; he seems particularly concerned with the way the price of bananas has risen. Rachmaninoff, who took time out from his composing to teach Rosemary such things as chromatic sixths, stands poker-faced at her side while she plays. He never sits down. Debussy, now beardless, dresses flamboyantly, but has a serious temperament. Beethoven is difficult and gruff, but Rosemary confesses that she's fallen a little bit in love with him.

In 1966 Mrs. Brown joined a circle of spiritualists, and gradually her clairvoyant powers became known to England's large community of mediums, psychics, and healers (who enjoy a respectability undreamed of in America). On Oct. 17, 1968, a BBC program called The Woman's Hour broadcast a special feature about her.

Once word was out, Rosemary Brown's life took a new turn. BBC television prepared an additional documentary film about her. Journalists clamored for interviews. Philips Records released an album of eight works, some played by Brown, called A Musical Seance. Now that Brahms had drilled her in finger exercises, while Rachmaninoff and Liszt had improved her style, she gave up her kitchen job and began touring as a concert pianist.

Musicians and psychologists have investigated Rosemary Brown and have found no way that she could be cheating. But Alan Rich, of New York Magazine, concluded after listening to the album that her pieces are simply substandard reworkings of some of the various composers' better-known compositions. Tongue in cheek, Irving Kolodin of The Saturday Review complained that "not one of the composers has had a new idea or a worthwhile thing to say in the years since he last had the opportunity to convey his thoughts on paper."

After the media played her up in 1970--1971, Rosemary Brown settled back into relative obscurity, continued to work with her great composers, and paid no attention to her critics.

At last report she was ecstatic over hearing the "finish" of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. "It was absolutely heavenly," she said.

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