Apart from being contemporaries, you might think Frédéric Chopin and Giacomo Meyerbeer had little in common. But though one composed almost exclusively for the piano and the other almost entirely for the opera house, they shared a surprisingly common 19th-century phobia. They were both terrified of being buried alive.

Chopin Kwiatkowski’s Chopin on His Deathbed, 1849

It may seem an unlikely worry to folks today, but before the 18th century discovered artificial resuscitation it...

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