On the Eids of March

Monday Musings” for Monday March 31, 2014

Volume IV, No, 13,/169


The Busy Month of March

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

March is a busy month. Many epoch-making occurrences took place in March including the back to back birthdays of Moses Maimonides of Cordoba on Mach 29, and birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach on March 30. We recently published a column reviewing Sherwin Nuland’s book on Moses Maimonides of Cordoba. It grieves me to report that the beloved brilliant Yale surgeon, scholar, author and chronically depressed Nuland died on March 3, 2014 at the age 83. Nuland, among his immense volume of writings, successfully demystified death. His illuminating and crisp writings covered many topics including the true meaning of being a Jew, chosen by God and all the burdens that goes with the privilege. Nuland, with whom I had the privilege of corresponding by e-mail, honored me by reading “Monday Musings” and commenting on some of them. He very much reminded me of another brilliant colleague, Pediatrician/author Walker Percy who was chronically depressed.

Perhaps the most significant date in March is March 15, the Ides of March. A word about the etymology of “Ides”- the word comes from the Aramaic and Farsi Eid meaning celebration, such as Eid –e-Fetr, the end of 30 days of prayer and fasting in the month of Ramadan. March 15 is Eid or celebration of approaching spring, having only one week to suffer the barbarity of the old and foreboding winter (March 21), vernal equinox on Julian calendar, the start of Persian New Year or here we go again Eid-e-Norooz (see March 17 Monday Musings). There are some other significant historical events which took place on Ides of March. Roman Republic ended and Roman Empire started on March 15. Cesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. Shakespeare’s reference to Caesar’s death “to beware of the ides of March” has given the ides of March black eyes…Perhaps this is the origin of modern day interpretation of “impending doom” that is superstitiously associated with March 15

March is the busiest month of the year admitting states to the Union: State of Ohio entered the Union on March1, 1803 (number 17), Nebraska on March 1, 1867 (number 37) Florida on March 3, 1845 (number 27), Vermont on March 4, 1791,(number 14), and Maine was admitted to the Union on the ides of March 1820 (number  23).

 Happy Birthday, Maestro Bach

To understand music one must study Bach. Should you, your children and grandchildren be interested in understanding the fundamentals of architectural construct of classical music, then you should read the magnificent writings of our good friend, the very talented journalist and dramaturge, Barrymore Lawrence Scherr. Bach (born March 30—some argue that he was born March 21, 1685; died July 28, 1750), has two seminal compositions, The Well Tempered Clavier, BOOK I, and The Well Tempered Clavier, Book II. Both books, 48 pieces altogether, give us the basics for minor and major notes, preludes, point and counterpoint, color, fugue, development, etc. Daniel Barenboim, Emeritus Conductor of the Chicago Symphony, plays all 48 pieces often in Carnegie Hall.  Check online and enjoy these delightful academic performances of baroque music, wrapped in rich cosmic bouquets that only Bach can produce.

 Music: Mankind’s Saviour

 The recent New York Metropolitan Opera performance of Mozart’s masterpiece, Idomeneo, was a good reminder that Mozart was an ordinary man with all the flaws and scars of alcoholism, syphilis (from Pamena of Magic Flute), kidney failure and periodic bankruptcy, with an extraordinary and truly God like mind to produce and write music of such complexity, architectural soundness of structure, yet immense sublimity and transcendence that is beyond any mortal person’s comprehension. The gift of Mozart is available to all lovers of music. This particular performance was super-special, because the international cast involved countries of Australia, England, Canada, South Africa, India, New Zeeland, and France. Our own Maestro James Levine, veteran Met Opera Music Director, and now conductor of the Boston Symphony, born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, who conducted the feast, was America’s contribution. The virtuous performance of the star-studded cast and Levine’s skillful directing once again proved that music is the universal language of peace, understanding and love which may bring the message of brotherhood and connectedness to mankind.


*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.


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