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Biography of Composer Medium Rosemary Brown Part 1

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

"The first time I saw Franz Liszt," says Rosemary Brown in her autobiography, "I was about seven years old, and already accustomed to seeing the spirits of the so-called dead. For some reason he never said who he was that morning. I suppose he knew I would eventually see a picture of him somewhere and would recognize him. . . . He then said: 'when you grow up I will come back and give you music.'"

Liszt kept that promise in 1964, if Mrs. Brown is to be believed, and introduced her to a coterie of great composers: Chopin, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Grieg, Berlioz, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and others. All of them visited her Victorian house in Balham, South London, and at one time or another asked her to transcribe the music they'd been composing since their deaths. Her drawers and cupboards are stuffed with more than 500 pieces of music, including a Fantasy Impromptu in three movements by Chopin; two sonatas by Beethoven, as well as his 10th and 11th symphonies (both unfinished); and a 40-page sonata and 12 songs by Schubert.

In 1971, when a record of some of these posthumously composed pieces was released, Sir Donald Tovey a distinguished composer-musicologist who had been dead 30 years came back and dictated the album's notes to Mrs. Brown. Naturally, he spoke favorably of the collection.

Many critics agree that Mrs. Brown's music bears a great stylistic resemblance to the published works of the composers who have visited her. Concert pianist Hepzibah Menuhin, sister of Yehudi, insisted, "There is no question but that she is a very sincere woman. The music is absolutely in the style of these composers." British composer Richard Rodney Bennett said, "A lot of people can improvise, but you couldn't fake music like this without years of training."

Did he say training? Mrs. Brown's musical training has been minimal, limited to a couple of years of piano lessons and a night or two at the opera, which she attended against her will.

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