“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.

632 Posts
  • What is Olden? What is Olden?
    Several pieces have the word ‘olden’ in their titles. We’ll look at 4 works and see that each composer carries a different meaning for the word. Henryk Górecki: 3 Olden Style Pieces Górecki combined elements of folk origins with modern
  • Shaking for Queen Victoria Shaking for Queen Victoria
    In her 64 years as the reigning monarch of the British Empire, Queen Victoria oversaw a prolific era of cultural, industrial, and political change. Even more remarkable was the fact that music occupied a central place in the lives of