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Family Writings

Aging and Death

Oskar at 90th birthday
celebration, surrounded by daughter
Claudia, and grand-daughters Heidi
and Andrea, January 2007

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 undertake 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.

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.