The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 28, 2014

Psychiatrist/pianist explores creativity, mental illness in MSO performance

Psychiatrist/pianist explores creativity, mental illness in MSO performance

Richard Kogan is a practicing clinical psychiatrist. He's also an award-winning pianist.

In 2001, the American Psychiatry Association asked him to give a lecture on musical creativity and mental illness, and that event launched Kogan into a new way of combining his passion for medicine and music. The result was a successful lecture-recital series that Kogan now embarks on around the world, offering psychiatric insight into composers such as Schumann, Gershwin, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky.

The Mankato Symphony Orchestra hosts Kogan for such an event at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Mankato West auditorium that focuses on the genius and madness of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The lecture and accompanying performance will shed light on the depression and mental breakdown Rachmaninoff experienced after the poor reception of his First Symphony, Op. 13. With the help of his psychologist, Nikolai Dahl, Rachmaninoff overcame depression and wrote Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Kogan will perform the concerto in its entirety following his lecture.

In addition, Kogan will be giving a separate lecture and performance at 7 p.m. today in Minnesota State University's Wiecking Auditorium. The free event — jointly sponsored by the Department of Psychology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Arts and Humanities — is titled "The Mind and Music of George Gershwin." Kogan will shed light on the psychiatric illness, likely cause by an undiagnosed brain tumor, and creative output of Gershwin. After the lecture, he will perform Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Porgy and Bess."

In a 2010 article published in the Psychiatric Times, Kogan further discussed his research and observations into the link between creativity and psychopathology:

Psychiatric Times: There seems to be a disproportionately high incidence of mental illness in creative people. To what do you attribute this association between psychopathology and creative genius?

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