Simon Heighes is joined by Professor Daniel M Albert, an opthalmic surgeon with a special interest in the history of medicine, to discover the story of the flamboyant English doctor who blinded the two greatest figures in Baroque music - Bach and Handel.

John Taylor was a charlatan - a charismatic, womanising practitioner who lied his way to treat popes, royalty and anyone else who could afford his high fees.

He treated Bach, after the composer's failing sight prevented him from continuing to work on The Art of Fugue, performing a procedure known as 'couching' - using a needle to pierce the composer's eyes and displace his cataracts.

Some months after his operation - after days filled with pain, fever and vivid hallucinations - Bach died, leaving his great work incomplete.

When Taylor was called upon to treat the eyes of London's foremost musical celebrity, Handel, he completely blinded him and the composer never wrote music again.


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20090820

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