A Friday the 13th post

For most of his life, Arnold Schoenberg experienced fear not only of the number 13, but multiples of it.  He was sure that he would die during a year that was a multiple of 13, such as 1939 (’39 = 13 x 3). An astrologer assured  him that the year would be dangerous, but not fatal. In 1950, when he turned 76, another astrologer pointed out that 7 + 6 = 13. July 13, 1951 was the first Friday the 13 of his 76th year, he spent the day in bed, afraid of death. The story goes that his wife was skeptical and late at night pointed out that it almost midnight and nothing bad had happened. He looked up at her and promptly died: at 11:47 (1+1+4+7 =13), 13 minutes before midnight.

On the subject of unlucky and untimely deaths (although not associated with Friday the 13th or fear of it), consider the following:

Jean Baptiste Lully conducted his orchestra by pounding a heavy stick on the floor. One night he missed the floor and crushed his toe instead. Because he refused to let the doctors amputate it, gangrene set in and  he died more than two months later.

Alessandro Stradella composed some beautiful music, but also made many enemies both by embezzling money from the church and having careless affairs with so many women who were either wives or mistresses of powerful men. He had to leave first Rome, then Venice in a hurry. In Venice, an outraged patron hired thugs to kill him. They reportedly heard him perform and were so overcome by the beauty of his music they couldn’t follow through. He fled to Genoa and got involved with another woman. This time, a hired assassin found him outdoors and stabbed him.

Johann Schobert is no longer well known, but Mozart and many others esteemed his music. In addition to being a skilled harpsichordist and imaginative composer, he was an amateur mushroom hunter. One night on a walk with his wife and several friends, he gathered some mushrooms and took them to a tavern to have them prepared. The chef refused, saying they were poisonous. So the party took them to another tavern, with the same result. Schobert and a physician in the party were so sure that they were good that they went back to Schobert’s home and had a feast. Unfortunately, the two chefs were correct. All those who ate the mushrooms became sick at once, so no one could go for help. They were not found till noon the next day, when it was too late for any medicine to work, but it took painful days for them to die.

Ernest Chausson and Wallingford Riegger both died more quickly. Chausson lost control of his bicycle going down a hill and crashed into a brick wall. It killed him instantly. Riegger was walking his dog when it got into a fight with another dog. He got tangled in the leashes, fell, and  hit  his head, and did not survive emergency surgery.


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