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Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain

Dr Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain
An electronic artistic impression of brain activity

Vera Brandes is Director of the Research Program for Music-Medicine at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria and has been in the forefront of research into the application of music in medical therapy and prevention since 1995 and from 1999 she has organized advanced trainings for medical doctors and therapists in Neurodevelopmental Auditory Training. Miss Brandes is also Vice President of IAMM (International Association for Music and Medicine), New York, USA, board member of I.M.A.R.A.A. (International Music and Arts Research Association Austria), international program director for the Mozart & Science Congress and member of the scientific advisory board of the Fritz Albert Popp Institute.

Vera Brandes

Miss Brandes was one of the co-founders of the Science Network Man and Music at the University Mozarteum, Salzburg and vice-president of the non-profit organization saludArt. From 2001 to 2003, she lectured on culture & media at the University for Applied Sciences in Salzburg, Austria. She co-initiated and co-organized the congress “in:fusion – New Qualities in Healthcare” in 2004 before she assumed her current position at the Paracelsus Medical University. She is also CSO of SANOSON in Vienna, Austria and developed I-MAT© (Individualized Music-focussed Audio Therapies) for the treatment of psychosomatic disorders. She has published numerous articles, and presents at international conferences.

On the 10th of September, 2010, Steve Mencher, host of Music and the Brain podcasts from the Library of Congress, talked with Vera Brandes, Director, Research Program Music Medicine, Paracelsus Medical Private University, Salzburg.

Steve Mencher: Welcome to another Music and The Brain podcast. Today I’ll be talking with Vera Brandes, who first burst upon the music scene thirty five years ago, as the eighteen year old promoter of one of the most famous events in jazz history, the Keith Jarrett Solo Piano Concert at the Köln Opera House. The recording of that concert became the most popular solo jazz recording of all time. I wanted to ask her about that, but first we talked about her current job as Director of The Research Program in Music Medicine at Paracelsus Medical Private University in Salzburg, Austria. I’d seen a picture of someone I assumed was Paracelsus on the Universities website and I wanted to find out why her school had taken its name from this curious looking renaissance physician, scientist and astrologer.

Vera Brandes: He (Paracelsus) is considered to be the Godfather of alternative medicine. And I have to say in that sense, my University is not the typical example for what you would call a University that is intensively investigating complementary and alternative modalities of medicine yet. And that is because the University is very young. It most recently started medical school on

Image showing grey matter increasing in density during adolescence though volume decreases

the European Continent and of course, it had to earn its merits in conventional medicine. And that it was possible to start The Music Medicine Research Program there from day one, was really an exception. It’s the only modality of complementary and alternative medicine that’s currently researched at the University.

SM: I want to find out a little bit about you, if you don’t mind because in reading about you, obviously everyone starts with your work with Keith Jarrett, thirty five years ago. And I need you to tell me a little bit about how that happened and then we’re going to go into your work today, but this is, you know, for someone who grew up listening to that record, for someone for whom that album, the “The Köln Concert” is one of the most important albums in my past. I’d like to hear a little bit from you about how you got involved with that.

VB: I was seventeen years old and I grew up in a family where music was part of our life. And one of my closest friends, who was much older than I was, she was the later wife of a very important journalist that was also the man that was the principal announcer of the “Berlin Jazz Festival”. And when I was fifteen, sixteen years old, they were starting to take me to all the great jazz festivals. And I met the greatest jazz musicians backstage and you can imagine I was sixteen, fifteen years old. These guys were questioning themselves… what is this young girl doing behind the stage at these festivals? I became friends with them. And a lot of people that were in the record business at that time, I got to know them and I


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