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Billroth and Brahms.

  • Absolon, Karel.
  • Videos

About this work


Documentary looking at the lives, achievements, parallell careers and friendship of surgeon Theodor Billroth and composer Johannes Brahms. It starts with views of Vienna in Austria while describing the early life and studies of Billroth (born 1829), his interest in history and his appointment as Professor of Surgery in Zurich. The early life of Brahms is covered. In 1865, Billroth, a passionate music lover, invited Brahms to visit him and they became close friends. Billroth believed that a surgeon must be a pathologist before he can be a healer. He introduced the idea of keeping medical records and modernised operating rooms and hospitals which became much more orderly. Billroth moved to Vienna in 1867 and was based at the General Hospital for 25 years. He volunteered to work for the Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian war in order to gain first hand experience of war wounds. Billroth's friendship with Crown Prince Rudolph is covered, plus the Rudolphinium Hospital which followed Billroth's design of architecture and his plan for educating nursing personnel in order to make it an honorable profession. At the Billroth Museum the surgeon's grandson, Michael Conrad Billroth, himself a retired surgeon, talks about the collection of books and honours awarded to his grandfather. Billroth's first gastrectomy is discussed. Brahms' Requiem is played by the St. Bartholomew's Hospital Orchestra and Chorus in London. After a look at the later lives of Billroth and Brahms, the programme concludes that Billroth occupied a similar position in surgery to Brahms in music - they both took the legacies of others and brought them into the modern era. Billroth's many talents are detailed, including his aptitude as a medical illustrator. He is quoted as saying that "Science and art spring from the same source".


[Place of publication not identified] : Not known, 1991.

Physical description

1 video cassette (VHS) (50 min.) : sound, color, PAL

Creator/production credits

Written and produced by J. Lee Sedwitz, directed by Larry Gardner.

Copyright note

Videofonics Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina for East Carolina University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.



  • English

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