Brahms was an awfully big noise in bed

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The sweet music of Johannes Brahms owes much to the unearthly sounds the composer made at night, according to a new diagnosis of the German virtuoso's snoring habits.

The sweet music of Johannes Brahms owes much to the unearthly sounds the composer made at night, according to a new diagnosis of the German virtuoso's snoring habits.

Brahms may have suffered from apnoea, a condition where sleep is continually fragmented by temporary interruptions to breathing at night.

Dr Mitchell Margolis, a pulmonary specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that Brahms' notoriously bad temper and inability to get on with people may have been caused by his apnoea, leading to a life-long "marriage" to his beloved music.

Obstructive sleep apnoea,usually caused by the soft palate of the mouth falling over the throat, could explain some important aspects of Brahms' life and personality, says Dr Margolis in the journal Chest. "One wonders if the disorder contributed to lifelong alienation from friends and marriage, thereby indirectly nurturing his determined devotion of the creation of his immortal music," Dr Margolis says.

It is well known that Brahms was bad tempered. He is said to have walked out on at least one party saying: "If there is anyone here I have not offended, I apologise." His snoring was clearly documented. Dr Margolis lists other reasons to believe Brahms suffered from apnoea. He was an inveterate napper, frequently nodding off during the day. He was also overweight with a thick-set neck - known risk factors.

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