Nikolai Dahl

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Nikolai Vladimirovich Dahl, often called Nicolai Dahl (Russian: Николай Владимирович Даль) (July 17, 1860 – 1939) was a Russian physician. He graduated from the Moscow University in 1887, and studied in France with Charcot, who initiated a therapy by hypnotizing his patients. Dahl had a private practice in Moscow. His speciality was in the fields of neurology, psychiatry and psychology. Dahl was interested in music and he was a competent amateur viola player, not cellist as previously stated.[1]

Dahl is best known for treating the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff had a nervous breakdown because of poor critical reviews of his Symphony No. 1 and went into a creative block. In January 1900 Dahl took Rachmaninoff into a treatment which lasted daily for more than three months, using hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. Dahl's treatment, helped by support from Rachmaninoff's own family and friends, cured the composer, who dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 2 (1901) to Dahl.

Dr. Dahl emigrated from Russia in 1925 and settled in Beirut, Lebanon. He played the viola in the orchestra of the American University of Beirut. On one occasion, Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto was performed, with Arkadie Kouguell as soloist and conductor. The audience were informed that the dedicatee of the concerto, Dr Dahl, was a member of the viola section of the orchestra, and they demanded he rise and take a bow.[2] He died in Beirut in 1939.

In program booklets from Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999 and 2001, Dahl is referred to as being Norwegian. This assertion was later disclaimed in an article in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association.[3]


  1. ^ Rachmaninoff Society of Great Britain. Newsletter No. 52, October 2002
  2. ^ Sergei Bertensson and Jay Leida, Sergei Rachmaninoff, footnote p.96, as mentioned at Maurice Kouguell, Remembering Dr. Dahl: Hypnosis Saves Rachmaninoff; Retrieved 17 October 2013
  3. ^ Rakhmaninov og doktor Dahl – ønsketenkning og nasjonal selvhevdelse