“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.

723 Posts
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  • The Chromatic Master: Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903 The Chromatic Master: Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903
    Schoenberg, the master of the Second Viennese School, called him the first 12-tone composer. It was his treatment of chromatic themes that prompted that statement. It’s J.S. Bach, of course, and one of the works that prompted that label was
  • Classical Music Moments in Movies V Classical Music Moments in Movies V
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  • Classical Music Moments in Movies IV Classical Music Moments in Movies IV
    Some say that feminist musicology started at the movies, and that it all kicked off with Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian crime film “A Clockwork Orange” of 1971. The central character Alex is a charismatic and antisocial delinquent who is interested in
  • Classical Music Moments in Movies III Classical Music Moments in Movies III
    Ever since sound was first coupled with moving images at the turn of the 20th century, classical music has played an important role. In fact, the new film medium provided the avenue for Western classical music to reach people from