Bernard Lechevalier

Baudelaire’s Brain Neurology and Music Publication date : January 5, 2010

How is music perceived? Which cerebral mechanisms are activated during listening? Why are some people totally closed to this art form? And why do others, even if they are non-musicians and have never played an instrument, understand music almost intimately?

This book deals primarily with listening among people who are ignorant of musical theory and do not play an instrument but are nonetheless music lovers. But it also deals with the unmusical, with those who are not touched by music and are even bored by it. The French poet Charles Baudelaire is a case in point. Although he had always been indifferent to music, he developed a passion for the works of Richard Wagner, ardently defending him after the failure of Tannhäuser in Paris, in 1861, and finally becoming, on occasion, an excellent music critic although he knew nothing about music.

This book is the complement to the author's earlier success, Le Cerveau de Mozart, now a work of reference.

• This is a subtle, precise analysis of certain cognitive differences — made visible by modern brain imagery — between the music lover's brain, the musician's brain and the non-musical brain.

• The author explains the neurophysiology of that particular state of consciousness linked to listening to music — ecstasy.

• This is a fascinating study of one of the lesser known aspects of the life of the French poet Charles Baudelaire, as well as of Richard Wagner and of music in nineteenth-century Paris.

Bernard Lechevalier is the author of the highly successful Le Cerveau de Mozart. An emeritus professor of neurology and a member of the French National Academy of Medicine, he contributed to the creation of a Unit on neuropsychology specialising in memory at INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research). He is a church organist, has published extensively internationally and is the author of a dozen books on neuropsychology.