Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Allemande l’Asthmatique and Étude Asthmatique

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 22 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5042
  1. Desmond O’Neill, consultant in geriatric and stroke medicine, Dublin
  1. doneill{at}

    At the heart of narrative medicine is the search for a better understanding of how illness is experienced. Some of these experiences are universal and have remained constant through time; others have been alleviated by modern medicine. Our relatively ready access to effective bronchodilators and diuretics can lead us to forget how challenging asthma (and cardiac asthma) must have been in earlier times, without hope of effective succour.

    Two of the most flexible, virtuosic, and humorous composers have left us unique musical insights into “asthma” in the 18th and 19th centuries. Marin Marais (1656-1728) clearly relished the challenge of programme music. His works for viola da …

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