Some Interesting Music Quotes

“He’d be better off shoveling show.”
–Richard Strauss on Arnold Schoenberg’s conducting.

When told that a soloist would need six fingers to perform his concerto, Arnold Schoenberg replied, “I can wait.”

“I would like to hear Elliot Carter’s Fourth String Quartet, if only to discover what a cranky prostate does to one’s polyphony.”
–James Sellars

“Exit in case of Brahms.”
–Philip Hale’s proposed inscription over the doors of Boston Symphony Hall

“Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don’t like, it’s always by Villa-Lobos?”
–Igor Stravinsky

“His music used to be original.  Now it’s aboriginal.”
–Sir Ernest Newman on Igor Stravinsky

“If he’d been making shell-cases during the war it might have been better for music.”
–Maurice Ravel on Camille Saint-Saens

“He has an enormously wide repertory.  He can conduct anything, provided it’s by Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner.  He tried Debussy’s La Mer once.  It came out as Das Merde.”
–Anonymous orchestra member on George Szell

Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, that “George Szell is his own worst enemy.”  “Not while I’m alive, he isn’t!” said Bing.

“After I die, I shall return to earth as a gatekeeper of a bordello and I won’t let any of you enter.”
–Arturo Toscanini to the NBC orchestra.

“We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you could be good enough to keep in touch now and again.”
–Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal

“Jack Benny played Mendelssohn last night.  Mendelssohn lost.”
–Anonymous

“Her voice sounded like an eagle being goosed.”
–Ralph Novak on Yoko Ono

“Parsifal – the kind of opera that starts at six o’clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20.”
–David Randolph

“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.”
–Giacchino Rossini

“I liked the opera very much.  Everything but the music.”
–Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky’s ‘The Rake’s Progress’

“Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on.”
–Sir Thomas Beecham on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkure

3 thoughts on “Some Interesting Music Quotes

  1. “Richard Wagner’s music is…… much better than it sounds.” — Mark Twain. Eric Satie said to DeBussey, regarding “Afternoon of a Faun” that he especially liked the part at about a quarter past 3 .

    1. I prefer the part around 5PM…cocktail time.
      Actually, I like “Afternoon of a Faun,” even though when I was a kid I thought it was about a baby deer. It introduced me to tritones.

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