Composers are Bastards

A friend linked me to this ClassicFM post about all the bitchy things 18th- and 19th-century composers said of each others' music. I included a few that composed during the 20th century, but if you were born in the Victorian era or before, you made it to this list. Some are repeat offenders, so I have to categorize them:

What Tchaikovsky said about . . .
Mussorgsky: "It [Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov] is the most insipid and base parody on music."
Mussorgsky again: "He likes what is coarse, unpolished, and ugly."
Brahms: "What a giftless bastard!"
Handel: "Handel is only fourth rate. He is not even interesting."

What Beethoven said about . . .
Ferdinando Paër: "I like your opera. I think I will set it to music."

What Wagner said about . . .
Chopin: "A composer for one right hand."

What Rossini said about . . .
Wagner: "Wagner has beautiful moments, but awful quarters of an hour."
Berlioz: "What a good thing this [Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique] isn't music."

What Berlioz said about . . .
Handel: "[His music is] a tub of pork and beer."

What Benjamin Britten said about . . .
Stravinsky: "I liked the opera [Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress] very much. Everything but the music."

What Stravinsky said about . . .
Rachmaninoff: "He was a six and a half foot scowl."
Messiaen: "All you need to write like him is a large bottle of ink."
Handel: "It [Handel's Theodora] is beautiful and boring. Too many pieces finish too long after the end."

What Sir Thomas Beecham said about . . .
Sir Edward William Elgar: "The musical equivalent of St. Pancras Station."

What Louis Schneider said about . . .
Debussy: "The audience expected the ocean [in Debussy's La Mer]. Something big, something colossal, but there were served instead with some agitated water in a saucer."

What Clara Schumann said about . . .
Liszt: "He gives me the impression of being a spoilt child."

What Arnold Bax said about . . .
Bach: "All Bach's last movements are like the running of a sewing machine."

What Saint-Saens said about . . .
Ravel: "If he'd been making shell cases during the war it would have been better for music."

I guess the moral of the story is: everyone hates Handel.

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One Response to Composers are Bastards

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ravel and Saint-Saëns

    What Classic FM attributes to Saint-Saëns was in fact written about him in a letter from Ravel to Jean Marnold on 5 Oct. 1916. It may be significant that in 1914 Saint-Saëns had advocated a ban on all German music.


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