Aging and Death
Morawetz travelled extensively throughout his career, attempting to attend as many performances of his
compositions as possible. In May 1995, at the age of
78, he left on a trip to Prague, which was to be the last time he would
any major travel. Having felt a little under the weather before leaving, the
trip turned into a catastrophe when he was placed into some very stressful
situations, and suffered a major nervous breakdown.
Oskar at 90th birthday
celebration, surrounded by daughter
Claudia, and grand-daughters Heidi
and Andrea, January 2007
That summer, he fought
bouts of depression and in September was finally hospitalized. The psychiatric
treatment enabled him to begin to cope with his failing health (poorer eyesight,
arthritis in the fingers making it difficult to play the piano, slower
walking,...), but he was never able to compose again.
During the course of his psychiatric treatment, the history of his health
revealed that Morawetz had suffered acute depression once before earlier in his
life at the age of 18. At that time, Morawetz had developed a terrible fear that
his fingers would lose their strength and that he would never be able to play
the piano again. After many months of psychiatric sessions, Morawetz recovered
from that period of depression. However, medical science claims that people
suffering from depression earlier in life have more of a tendency for depression
to recur later in life.
In December 2001, Morawetz fell and hit his head on a doorframe, causing
internal bleeding. This unfortunate accident caused some brain damage
and his memory was severely affected, as was his ability to express himself
coherently. Over the next few years, Morawetz suffered the effects of
progressive Parkinson's syndrome. Complications from this disease eventually
claimed his life on June 13, 2007.