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The Boston Globe

Opinion

opinion | Christoph Westphal

Boston’s prominence in medicine, music isn’t an accident

Doctors of music

ANDRIS NELSONS, the young new conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, recently performed at the Tanglewood Gala Opening concerts. Listening to the exquisite performances, I was struck by the number of physicians and scientists in the audience. Music and medicine are twin passions, and I wondered: Do data exist that underscore a link between these seemingly disparate worlds? Why should the fields be closely linked? Might a connection explain Boston’s being a world-class city for both music and medicine?

It turns out that the BSO tracks specific data linking music and medicine. Roughly one-fifth of the audience for winter season BSO concerts consists of MDs or PhDs. Moreover, physicians and scientists are similarly overrepresented on the board of the orchestra. The current president of the BSO, Paul Buttenwieser, is a practicing psychiatrist and an excellent pianist.

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