Radio Lab produced an exceptional short program called Unraveling Bolero. It tells the story of the Anne Adams, a PhD cell biologist turned artist. Her change from science to art was the result of the early stages of a brain disease called frontotemporal dementia. The disease causes the language portion of the brain (left frontal lobe) to die. In the process, it opens up the mind to great creativity that the constant chatter of the left lobe tends to suppress.
This is apparently the same thing that happened to Maurice Ravel. I’ve always hated his Bolero (although I’m rethinking it now), even as I’ve liked his other work, which is much like Claude Debussy. The speculation is that Ravel suffered from the same brain disease. Anyway, Adams had a good run of 14 years, during which she produced an astounding amount of really compelling work.
I’m on vacation, so I don’t have time to talk about this stuff much. But here is some of her work that I really like.