First version of this article was originally published on 26 May, 2012
Music can have different affects on our mood.
We all have our favorite songs and how much and often we listen to music is up to each and one of us.
From a scientific point of view it has been proven that listening to music can make us feel, happy, sad, optimistic, or negative.
Music can reduce stress, help improve memory. Music leads to various special physiological changes, and has undoubtedly many benefits.
However, it would seem that we are sometimes completely unaware of how a certain music piece can affect us.
One of the strangest compositions ever created is titled Gloomy Sunday. It was written in December 1932 by the Hungarian composer Seress Reszo. It was a rainy Sunday, and Seress was depressed because his fiancée had just broke of their engagement.
That evening while sitting inside and staring at the rain, Seress created “Gloomy Sunday”.Soon, he discovered he had difficulties publishing the composition because it was considered far too melancholic for public ears.
In time, the song gained a grim reputation. It was believed that the song caused a suicidal mania.
The first time the song was played was in Spring 1933.
A young man sitting in a café orchestra in Budapest was asked to perform the song. When the orchestra finished playing, he went home and shot himself after complaining to relatives that he felt severely depressed by the melody of a new song which he couldn’t get out of his head.
In the late thirties there were so many reports of committed suicides which were somehow associated with the composition that the Hungarian government forbade public performance of the song. Many musicians welcomed this decision with great relief, because they were afraid for their own lives.
Seress Reszo, the compositor of Gloomy Sunday.
Suicides were not limited to Hungary. It would seem that the song had a very depressing affect on people in other countries as well.In New York, a young secretary gassed herself, and in a suicide note she requested Gloomy Sunday to be played at her funeral.
Weeks later, another New Yorker, aged 82, jumped to his death from the window of his seventh-story apartment after playing the ‘deadly’ song on his piano.
Around the same time, a teenager in Rome who had heard the unlucky tune jumped off a bridge to his death.
Newspapers world-wide reported of other deaths associated with Seress’ song and several radio stations like BBC seriously considered stop playing the song. Local stations in the United States refused to broadcast it.
Gloomy Sunday did not bring its composer any desirable fame. On the contrary, the composition was somewhat of a nightmare from the very beginning of its creation.
Its composer, Reszo Seress committed suicide in 1968, jumping from a window.
The New York Times wrote on January 13, 1968: “Rezsoe Seress, whose dirge-like song hit, “Gloomy Sunday” was blamed for touching off a wave of suicides during the nineteen-thirties, has ended his own life as a suicide it was learned today.
Authorities disclosed today that Mr. Seress jumped from a window of his small apartment here last Sunday, shortly after his 69th birthday.
The decade of the nineteen-thirties was marked by severe economic depression and the political upheaval that was to lead to World War II.
The melancholy song written by Mr. Seress, with words by his friend, Ladislas Javor, a poet, declares at its climax, “My heart and I have decided to end it all.” It was blamed for a sharp increase in suicides, and Hungarian officials finally prohibited it.
In America, where Paul Robeson introduced an English version, some radio stations and nightclubs forbade its performance. Mr. Seress complained that the success of “Gloomy Sunday” actually increased his unhappiness, because he knew he would never be able to write a second hit. ”
The girl who broke the engagement with Reszo Seress years ago, also committed suicide. Next to her body was a card on which were the words – Gloomy Sunday.
It is estimated that about 200 people committed suicide after listening to this composition.
When the World War II broke out, people forgot about this gruesome composition and today everyone who wants can listen to it.
Nevertheless, Gloomy Sunday is a true proof of that music can have extraordinary impact on people’s behavior.