Italian composer Meyerbeer sat in his house, hard at work on a new and wonderful piece.
Suddenly, he heard music playing, which troubled his creative serenity.
He went to the window, and saw a
heavy man twisting the handle of the instrument that was making the music
of his greatest rival – Rossini.
Meyerbeer, all nervous, addressed
the man and said "Hey you, take 10 Francs and go play some of
my tunes next to Meyerbeer's window."
The man politely refused, replying,
"I cannot, sir, Mr. Rossini paid me 20 Francs to play his tunes
The opera tenor, very pleased with
himself, asked composer Saint-Saëns, after the performance of his
"Samson and Delilah", "How did I do, sir?"
The cynical Saint-Saëns responded "You sang magnificently, it's such a pity the orchestra accompanied you a semitone higher all through the evening...".
"I am glad you knew how
to behave yourself around the nobles!", said Beethoven's friend
to the composer, returning from a concert in the house of one of Vienna's
"You should be glad the
nobles knew how to behave themselves around a genius", replied
visited Paris, and his host wanted to introduce the best known Parisian
composer to his guest – Camille Saint-Saëns. Bartok courteously refused,
saying "I am not interested!"
His host tried another idea "Perhaps
"No, thank you".
"Then whom would you
like to meet, sir?"
answered Bartok passionately.
"But Debussy is impolite
and will probably scorn and reject your work. Are you interested in being
insulted by Debussy?"
"Yes", replied Bartok decisively.
A very negative musical critique
Liszt received, by one of the critics, caused a scandal. Liszt accepted
the newspaper's offer and published a response:
"I am so pleased I have
had the privilege of contributing my name, in order to draw some attention
A naive admirer once asked Schubert:
"Tell me Mr. Schubert, why do you always
write only sad music?"
"Is there any other music?"
asked the composer...
Brahms, a composer known for his
sarcasm, met a well-known Viennese composer who told him "Your
new symphony is a true masterpiece, it is just a shame it reminds me of
other works here and there..."
"What other works", asked Brahms, "your next symphony?"
The mother of composer Stravinsky
saw the ballet "The Rite of the Spring" her son had written.
She was asked whether she was happy to have seen it.
"I do not like my son's
music" she answered frankly.
"Would you whistle in
contempt as the audience did on premiere night?" the person
"I can't whistle", replied the mother laconically.
Two candidates competed for a part
in an opera conducted by Mahler. "You are the worst singer I
have ever heard" said Mahler to the first.
"Then do I get the part?"
asked the other one.
"And you are no singer at all!" continued Mahler...
"This is a piece for
virtuosos only" protested a violinist to Ravel,
having found great difficulty in playing a work he wrote for a violin and
"Excellent", said the composer, "I don't want to be murdered by amateurs".
A perfect performance
The all-famous conductor Toscanini
was once asked about his best performance of the opera "Othello".
"My best performance took place in my own house, while reading the score", he answered wittily.
was once heard explaining to a young composer: "When
I was your age I used to say 'I'. When I became twenty I began saying "I
and Mozart", when I was forty I changed
my tune to "Mozart and I", and today, I say to you, quietly,
Rossini was perhaps the laziest
composer in history. He was so lazy, that they say he once composed an
overture lying down on the couch. A sudden draft from the window tossed
his papers on the floor, on which his piece was written.
yelled Rossini, calling his servant, but was not answered. The servant
was too far away to hear him.
Lazy Rossini sighed... took a new score paper and began writing the overture all over again.
Liszt visited Russia, where he was
introduced to a young physician named Borodin. The doctor, so he was told,
was engaged in writing music in his free time and would like to show him
one of his works. Liszt began looking into a piece, and for a long time
he read silently.
Young Borodin turned to Liszt, saying
"Sir, please don't hesitate to give me your honest opinion!
I know my faults. I never studied any harmony or counterpoint..."
Liszt, "now I understand why this music is so exciting!"...
Composer John Cage wrote a new piece
called "4:33", a musical work whose length is precisely four
minutes and thirty-three seconds of utter silence.
Referring to this piece, Stravinsky wrote "I truly hope that next time the composer will grant us a full-length work..."
The admired conductor Herbert von-Karajan
stopped a taxi in Vienna once. "Where to, maestro?"
asked the driver. "It doesn't matter",
replied Karajan, "they are waiting for me everywhere!"
Composer Max Reger once wrote to
a critic who was too hard on his work: "Sir,
I am sitting in the smallest room in my house right now. Your critique
is in front of me. In several seconds it will be behind me..."
People tell about pianist Cherkasky, that he once spent his vacation in a rest home, sitting down in the living room to read the newspaper. A young lady went in and without asking anyone, began playing a Chopin mazurka on the piano that was standing in the room.
Suddenly she stopped and asked:
"Are you a musical person, sir?"
Cherkasky, "but never mind, you can go on all the same..."
The director of the New-York opera house once asked Debussy whether he could write him a new opera in six months.
"Half a year?"
Debussy was shocked "That is the time I need to decide which
of the two chords is the one I need..."
Famous conductor George Szell left
the New York opera orchestra angrily.
"George Szell is his
own biggest enemy!" his fans
The manager of the New-York opera
insisted "Not as long as I am alive!"
Spanish composer Manuel de Falla
once toured a museum and observed a picture visualizing a concert of angels
– an angel sings and his mates accompany him with trumpets and harps.
He was amazed: "How can
you hear this soprano with all the trumpets around?"
Donizetti, who wrote his "Don Pasquale" in ten days, said once about Rossini, the composer who took thirteen days to write "The Barber of Seville".
"I always knew speed is not one of good-old Rossini's best features!"