Meaning of illness, in and through music

On March 28th, 2018, a trumpet player, musicologist and medical ethicist discussed the importance of sound and tone in the experience of illness. This was the third public dialogue organised by The New Utrecht School in 2018.

Healing power of music? 

What is the impact of tonality on a disrupted mood? Can music relay the experience of being ill? How does playing an instrument affect someone who is ill? What can a musician, a medical scientist and a humanities scholar teach each other about the role of music in life, health, and illness?

Music and the body

Music, as the worldfamous writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote in his well-known Musicophilia, has a wide variety of healing powers. A song of past time can reconnect a patient suffering from dementia with his/her former personality. Vibrations and pacing allow spastic and ossified muscles to relax. Listing to a composition can alter your emotional state. Opera's exist which intend to let their audience experience what it is like to live as a diabetic. A better understanding of the relation between music and the body is therefore not only important for the musicologist, but also for the healthcare professional.


  • Andre Heuvelman, a music performer, inspirator, creative advisor, and innovator, who overcame his physical handicap as a child and became a professional and passionate trumpet player.
  • Prof. Emile Wennekes, professor of musicology (Utrecht University), who researches the way how composers try to connect their own personal experience with disease to their audience. 

  • Prof. Hans van Delden, professor of medical ethics (Utrecht Medical Centre). He uses philosophical insights to answer ethical challenges from the world of health.