Brahms Lounge: SWR2 Forum – Eickhoff. Richter. Holm-Hadulla
Melancholy: agony of the soul or creative stimulus?

Sat 23. 3. 2024

Every note should be savored, "as if one wanted to suck melancholy out of every single one, with voluptuousness and pleasure," the 60-year-old Brahms said about one of his late piano pieces. The composer's openly admitted melancholy stimulated his creativity – and yet repeatedly threatened to turn into depressive episodes. The sad mood, which in the so-called four-juice theory was explained by an excess of black bile, has made an astonishing career in European cultural history, especially in art history – from Albrecht Dürer to W. G. Sebald. But what does it mean in a medical context? What does modern psychotherapy have to say about the cult of melancholy in literature, art and music?

Katharina Eickhoff


Anna Lucia Richter


Prof. Dr. Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst