THE MUSICAL MEDIUM
… an organised group of musicians who have departed from your world are attempting to establish a precept for humanity, i.e. that physical death is a transition from one state of consciousness to another wherein one retains one’s individuality. (Franz Liszt, 1970)
Rosemary Brown might be described as having been as normal as anyone could be.
Well, apart from the fact that she regularly entertained long-deceased people in her home!
As a child, Rosemary presumed everyone saw ‘dead people’. They were always quite solid, and for young Rosemary it was easy to confuse them with living people. She recalled one occasion when she woke to see the figure of a very tall man standing beside her bed and thought it was a burglar. She was terrified, but as she sat up the figure vanished. She shrugged and thought “oh it’s only another old ghost,” then turned over and went back to sleep.
When she was seven, a very old man with long white hair and wearing what Rosemary thought was a long black dress (she later learned that it was a priest’s cassock) appeared beside her bed and told her that when he had been in this world, he had been a composer and pianist. Rosemary had no idea who this old man was, but she remembered him because he was the only ‘ghost’ to have spoken to her.
“When you grow up I will come back and give you music,” he told her.
Over forty years later, Franz Liszt kept his promise.
Those forty years had not been easy for Rosemary. An only child, she was born in Clapham – an inner suburb of London – on 27 July 1916, and grew up in humble circumstances. The family’s income had barely met their basic needs. As a young teen, she had begged her parents for piano lessons, but funds didn’t stretch to such luxuries. Undaunted, she tried to teach herself on the old piano inherited from her grandparents. It had a few dud keys and was kept in a big drafty sitting room, so in winter her fingers were so cold and stiff she could hardly move them. She persisted for a year, then ran errands to earn enough money to pay for 2 terms of lessons.
As if the family’s circumstances were not sufficiently dire, world war 2 meant six years of rations, while sirens sent everyone running to the nearest bomb shelter, hoping their home would still be standing when the all clear siren sounded. When her father died before the war ended, life became even more difficult.
In 1951, at the age of 36, Rosemary married widower Charles Brown and produced two children. Alas, Charles was often unwell and unable to work. At one time, Rosemary even tried to sell the old piano to make ends meet, but could find no-one to buy it. She was later to understand why she was meant to keep it.
Although she regularly brought through highly evidential messages for Charles from his previously deceased wife, it’s interesting to note that during these lean years it never occurred to her to offer private readings to help make ends meet, although she did conduct a few later in life.
In 1960, Rosemary’s mother died, and the following year, after just 9 years of marriage, Charles also succumbed to his illness, leaving Rosemary penniless and with two children to raise. She found work as a cleaner at the local school, but not long after starting, she slipped in the school cafeteria and broke two ribs.
One day while recuperating, she was tinkling at the piano when suddenly, Franz Liszt appeared. He slipped his hands over hers as though his were a pair of gloves, and she found herself playing music she’d never heard before.
After several sessions, he began to speak. “I have come to fulfill my promise.” He reminded her. “Do you remember me coming to see you all those years ago when you were a little girl?”
She remembered, and commented that he looked so much younger now.
Liszt began talking more after that, and she would sit and listen intently as he spoke about the music he was giving her. She wished she could write the compositions down so others could hear them, but her musical education was limited and she knew that remembering and sorting out the correct notes on the keyboard would be far too difficult.
Nothing, it seems, was too difficult for Franz Liszt. By 1964 he had devised a way to dictate his music so she could write it down. It was a slow and painstaking process as both were learning how to do it and looking for the best way to communicate the music.
Liszt warned her, however, that if she agreed to do this work, she would be subjected to a great deal of ridicule, jealousy, and harsh skepticism. He told her that people would try to exploit her and attempt to suppress the music.
Rosemary was undaunted and unhesitatingly agreed to continue.
Liszt was to become the organizer and leader of a group of famous composers – Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Greig, Berlioz, Rachmaninov, Monteverdi – all of whom began visiting Rosemary regularly to dictate their new music to her.
Over the many years until her own death, these celebrated composers dictated over 500 pieces of music.
In 1968, the BBC interviewed Rosemary, then produced a documentary about her. Shortly afterwards, she was offered a recording contract with Philips. (Thanks to Sandra Champlain, host of You Don’t Die podcast, here is a link to the documentary): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mX477Zo7otg
The LP subsequently produced by Philips – A Musical Séance – described each composition as having been “inspired” by the named composers – Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, Schubert, DeBussy, Brahms, Grieg and Schumann.
As Liszt warned, Rosemary Brown was subjected to much criticism and skepticism. As she often pointed out, she would need to be a musical genius to have written all these pieces – and all in very different but easily recognizable styles.
However, she has also received accolades from those with ears highly attuned to the styles of the great composers. British composer Richard Rodney Bennett once told how he had been having trouble with a composition of his own. “Mrs. Brown passed along Debussy’s recommendation,” he commented. “It worked!”
“If she is a fake, she is a brilliant one,” Bennett added in an interview for Time magazine, “and must have had years of training. Some (of the music) is marvellous. I couldn’t have faked the Beethoven!”
Rosemary Brown did not have ‘years of training’, nor was she brilliant. During the time she worked with the composers, she was a reclusive, middle-aged housewife who worked part-time as a cleaning lady.
Why did these composers feel the need to bring new musical compositions to the world anyway? Didn’t we have enough music already?
“There is more in all this than perhaps meets the eye,” British conductor Sir Henry Wood stated in 1970, 26 years after his death. He was speaking through the mediumship of Leslie Flint. “It’s not only the music we are interested in … we are anxious to change if we can your world; change the thoughts of man. By the efforts of many souls here, we should be able to bring man to a greater realization and understanding of the purpose of life.”
Rosemary Brown died on November 16th, 2001, aged 85. No doubt she now has a far greater understanding of the purpose of life – at least the purpose of her own life!
This amazing medium’s legacy not only included over 500 compositions dictated to her by a crowd of long-deceased composers, she also wrote 3 wonderful books …
- Posted in: afterlife