Ariel Sharon's sons have been playing Mozart and Israeli folk tunes by their ailing father's bedside, hoping he'll show some reaction, however...

Share story

JERUSALEM — Ariel Sharon’s sons have been playing Mozart and Israeli folk tunes by their ailing father’s bedside, hoping he’ll show some reaction, however faint.

Music can be an effective tool in stirring patients who’ve undergone traumas such as the 77-year-old Israeli leader’s stroke, some experts say.

Doctors said Tuesday that Sharon, who suffered a massive stroke Jan. 4, is no longer in immediate danger of dying. Last week, surgeons battled for more than 13 hours to staunch a brain hemorrhage.

Sharon also showed improvement in his neurological functions. The prime minister moved his left hand in response to pain stimuli and increased the range of movement in his right limbs, said Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Get 90% off digital access.

Sharon is known to love classical music. His sons, Omri and Gilad, have been playing it for him at the behest of doctors, said Ron Krumer, an official at Hadassah Hospital.

Aside from Mozart, one of Sharon’s favorite Israeli songs, “The King’s Bride,” an ode to Israel by folk singer Rivka Zohar, is being played for the ailing leader. In an interview with Channel 2 on Tuesday, Zohar said she was honored and hoped her music would help Sharon.

“I think there is something even in an unconscious man that is still awake. I am not a doctor but I think warmth and goodwill will help a lot. A song can’t harm, it can only help,” she said.

Experts agreed.

“There is evidence of people emerging from comas and saying they remember the music” played to them, said Dr. Dorit Amir, who directs Israel’s only college-level music-therapy department, at Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv.

Some researchers have posited that listening to Mozart can increase brain development in children under age 3, a controversial finding dubbed the “Mozart effect.”

Just this week, the family of the sole survivor of a coal-mine explosion in West Virginia played Metallica and Hank Williams Jr. in hopes of helping the young miner recover.

Amir said music often helps post-comatose patients recover and sometimes is used with those in Sharon’s condition as well. She insisted music can enter the soul and “wake one up.”

If that doesn’t help, Avi Yaffe, a soldier who served under Sharon in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, sent the prime minister’s secretary a recording he saved of radio traffic from that war — hoping Sharon would recall one of his finest hours.

“I don’t know the state of his brain, but if there is something that can wake him, this is it,” he said.