“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.
The beautiful Christmas song Carol of the Bells is just over a century old. The music, based on a Ukrainian folk chant, Shchedryk (The Generous One), was written by Mykola Leontovych. The original lyrics tell of a swallow flying into
Haydn was rich, but he wasn’t born wealthy… He did come from humble origins, but for his gentrified English audience Joseph Haydn was an accomplished composer, businessman, and gentleman. Yet, his early years of poverty and struggles during his years
Frédéric Chopin had a love affair with food. On a trip to the town of Toruń, the 15-year-old composer goes to great length to describe the local food specialty. Although he visited the famed Copernicus museum and various fortified building,
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As we all know, Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was a man of numerous contradictions. And that is certainly true of his eating habits as well. According to his second wife Cosima, Richard Wagner was “in principle” a vegetarian, but “in practice
In its attempts to be ever more spectacular and outrageous, French theatre began to explore the realm of the fairy (féerie) on its stages. Adding elements of the supernatural to any plot expanded its possibilities – flying through the air!
Fete des belles eaux for 6 ondes martenot For six months in 1937, Paris was the place to see the latest and greatest in ‘art and technology in modern life.’ In other words, the 1937 Exposition Internationale des Arts et
The Lithuanian composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė writes under self-imposed strictures: for the piece here, she confines herself to the diatonic notes, the white notes, of the piano, with only rare movements onto the chromatic, black keys. Her time signs are confined