Heinrich Friedrich August Utermohlen

As noted previously, August was not only a musician, but also a learned man. In addition to German and Dutch, he could speak English and French fluently, and he could read and write not only Latin and Greek, but also Hebrew. He was close friends with Hoorn's rabbi, with whom he would have lengthy discussions concerning the meaning of the Talmud.

In fact he required that the two of his sons who studied medicine spend a year taking lessons in Hebrew with the rabbi before starting their medical studies. His reasoning was that only after you understand the humanity of the Bible can you begin to understand and have compassion for the humanity of your patients. At the end of the year of study, he challenged his sons to translate and explain a particularly difficult passage in the Old Testament. He was both proud, and disappointed in himself, when his youngest son was judged by the rabbi to be the better translator!

Copyright V. Utermohlen, MD, 2001
Updated December 28th, 2001