Curse of the Ninth

Anton Bruckner died after writing his ninth symphony. So did Beethoven, Schubert, and Dvořák. In the 19th century, a superstition arose that a quick death awaited anyone who wrote nine symphonies.

Arnold Schoenberg wrote: “It seems that the ninth is a limit. He who wants to go beyond it must pass away. It seems as if something might be imparted to us in the Tenth which we ought not yet to know, for which we are not ready. Those who have written a Ninth stood too close to the hereafter.”

Mahler figured he could escape the curse with a decoy: When he finished his ninth, he retitled it “The Song of the Earth” and wrote a second “ninth” symphony. When nothing happened, he told his wife “the danger is past,” started a new work — and died.

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One thought on “Curse of the Ninth

  1. Hehe, curse of the ninth is scary, but there are many composers who defy the superstition, like Shostakovitch, Hans Werner Henze, Heitor Villa Lobos, Darius Milhaud, and Henry Cowell… the list goes on and on! (let’s not mention Mozart and Haydn, since the definition of symphony back then was different)

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