Article, Music, Poetry


If bad behaviour isn’t your thing it’s best to avoid the under the stairs lot notorious for their unsociable conduct. Better to put on one’s best party frock and attend a soiree. Why risk a coup d’état if there’s a tête-à-tête to be enjoyed.

At a dinner party, one is sure to mix with people of refined taste who are above making coarse and tasteless remarks.  If attendees include the best of classical musicians well what more could one ask for; well, quite a lot actually.

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German composer Johannes Brahms is in a class of his own but his table manners were notorious. The gifted musician was once heard to remark: “If there is anyone here who I have not insulted, I beg his pardon.”

Gifted Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, wrote: “Music is an incomparably more powerful means and is a subtler language for expressing the thousand different moments of the soul’s moods.”

Fine sentiments, Pyotr Ilyich, but surely your comment that Handel was only fourth rate might have been left to the German composer’s music to say.

Of his compatriot Maurice Ravel the French composer Saint-Saens remarked, “If he had been making shell cases during the war it might have been better for music.”

I do find myself in agreement with Richard Strauss who of Schoenberg commented, “He’d be better off shovelling snow than scribbling on manuscript paper.”

If SOL Times has Australian readers I suggest they stop reading right now. After a successful tour of Australia, the esteemed Sir Thomas Beecham was asked when he would return. Looking the nervous hack in the eye, Sir Thomas asked, “Does anyone ever return to Australia?”

Brits love their Gilbert and Sullivan operetta but the talented twosome had their critics too. When a singer insisted he knew better than Sullivan how a certain song should be interpreted, Sullivan told him: “In future, I will get you to sing my songs first, then I will compose them afterwards.”

Whilst on the opera circuit we are reminded of American broadcaster Ed Gardner’s comment: “Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding he sings.”

When asked to define good music a pundit replied: “if you like it is good. If you don’t like it, it is bad.”

Critics too are often on the receiving end of spiteful remarks. “Pay no attention to what critics say.  There has never been a statue set up in honour of a critic.” ~ Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.




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