“Anecdotes and maxims are rich treasures to the man of the world.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The universe of classical music is jam-packed with musical anecdotes. Frequently these short narratives delineate subtle stories that highlight specific traits of a classical composer or a performer. Often humorous, anecdotes of classical composers don’t simply provoke laughter but can reveal a more general and subtle truth. We find Sophia Corri escaping her inattentive husband in an empty harp case, Beethoven being thrown in jail for vagrancy, and Rossini and Pavarotti both cooking their favorite meals. Napoleon gave free reign to his infatuation with an opera singer, Bach was challenged to a duel, and Frederick the Great had not only a great passion for music but also for a handsome Lieutenant in the Royal Guard. A musical anecdote is part of the process of telling a story, but it means sharing an experience with someone and not simply supplying him or her with information. And don’t worry, embellishment, exaggeration or fictitious invention are all part of the process. Anecdotes of classical composers impart the sense of a lived experience, as they usually involve real people in recognizable places and locations. In fact, musical anecdotes exhibit a special kind of realism and an identifiable historical dimension. Check back with us for more insightful and delightful musical anecdotes.
If you listen to the recordings by Glenn Gould playing Bach, you can’t help but notice that he kept singing, humming or groaning along as he plays. Since audio engineers were not always successful in erasing his voice from the
Throughout his early years, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was teamed up with his older sister Nannerl to entertain audiences with music for piano four-hands. And not entirely unexpected, he composed a number of works for himself and his sister. However, once
Jules Mouquet (1867-1946) studied at the Paris Conservatoire and after winning the Prix de Rome in 1896, became a professor at the Conservatoire in 1913. In the early 20th century, Mouquet wrote his lovely flute sonata, La Flûte de Pan.
As the ‘Father of the String Quartet,’ Haydn did a great deal to standardize the quartet form that we love so well. And yet, while giving him this comfortable title, we always have to recognize his sense of humour in
Named not for the cathedral but for the girls’ school in Hammersmith where he was music master for nearly 30 years, the St Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst provided the students with a beautiful piece that was all their own.
Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) was one of the leading Polish composers who brought Polish classical music into the international mainstream. Following the example of fellow-countryman Karol Szymanowski, Bacewicz combined Polish folksong with modernism in music. More so than any other country,
The truck comes down the street, playing its little melody, summoning all the little (and big) kids out for ICE CREAM. The Mister Softee ice cream trucks first hit the streets of Philadelphia in 1956 and now operate in about
Commissioned in 1911 by Serge Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, the ballet by Paul Dukas, La Péri, had a difficult birth. Dukas came up with the scenario and then wrote the music; choreography, design and stage decoration followed. Originally intended