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Karajan’s first-prize winner now puts his heart into mental-health orchestra

Ronald Braunstein was the gold medal winner of the Herbert von Karajan Competition in 1979. ‘Everything was just going great,’ he says. But in between ‘there were times when I could not get out of bed…. for a year.’ In 1985, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Today Braunstein conducts ME2, an orchestra in Vermont made up of musicians who have experience of mental illness, either in their own lives or with close family. It is, he says, a response to the discrimination he faced.

He appears in a soft-spoken short film made by Franz Strasser for the BBC. Watch it here.

ronald braunstein

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  1. Petros LInardos says:

    Thank you, Norman, for posting this. Very inspirational. I would love to see more postings on music and therapy or education.

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Norman. For anyone interested in learning more about ME2, please visit our website: We’d love to hear your thoughts on how our orchestras (yes, there are two!) can be used to further spread messages that will erase stigma and offer support to people living with mental illnesses.

  3. God bless Ronald Braunstein! Thanks to you, Norman and also to Ms. Whiddon who has provided more information about the orchestra and to Mr. Linardos.

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