Whatever else they say about me – and believe me they've said, and called me, just about everything – they usually don't call me a musician. Not that I claim to be one. But I do love music, and in recent years I have found that attempting to compose my own music has been both curiously satisfying and one of the most intellectually challenging things I have ever done.
May I add, also, one of the most humbling. Once during an interview, the journalist Jack Lessenberry asked me who I thought had possessed the greatest mind in recorded human history. I think he expected me to answer Einstein, or Newton, or Aristotle or Vesalius. But I didn't hesitate; for me, the only answer was Johann Sebastian Bach. Later when he asked me what historical event I would most have liked to have witnessed, I replied that I would have liked to have sat motionless on a bench and watched Bach composing on of his concertos, which come closer than most of the frail works of man to deserving the term immortal.
That doesn't mean that Bach is the only music I enjoy, though his work will always be the greatest to me. Bet you never know that the man they call Dr. Death is a huge fan of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, or that the swing tun "Celery Stalks at Midnight" can always be counted on to make me smile.
The prosecutors would be justified in coming after me if I dared to compare my musical efforts with any of these men. But I think you may find echoes of most of my musical heroes in these works, which are performed here with absolute brilliance by the Morpheus Quintet.
Incidentally, the thing I hope the world will say about me years from now is that I was a physician who sought to relieve suffering. Music has often soothed me – and I hope that these works here make me smile.