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Music & Musicians

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5741.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:21 am Reply with quote

Some of these have already been posted by JumpingJack, but here they are again, mostly with the source details:

J S Bach (1685-1750)
Bach died in 1750 in relative obscurity and blind. Fewer than a dozen works were published in his lifetime. Interest in his work really started to pick up in 1829 when Mendelssohn conducted the St Matthew Passion in Berlin. (Source ODM Page 43)

Bach was an amazing organist. The historian Dr Charles Burney tells how Bach used to have a stick in his mouth which he’d use to hit a key he couldn’t reach with either hand. (Source; Bach, Beethoven and the Boys by David W Barbers 1986 published by Sound & Vision (BBATB) Footnotes page 50)
(question: Why did Bach keep a stick in his mouth when using his organ)

The Bachs were a musical family! There are records of 53 Bachs holding musical posts over a 300 year period in the Thuringa region (now part of Germany). (Source ODM P42)

J S Bach’s salary in 1720 at Mühlhausen is listed as “85 gulden a year and 3 measures of corn, 2 trusses of wood, one of beach, one of oak or aspen and 6 trusses of faggots, delivered at his door, in lieu of arable”. He was offered double this when he went to work for Wilhelm Ernst the following year. (Source BBATB page 48)

Bach, Grieg and Stravinsky all married their cousins.

5742.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:22 am Reply with quote

Beethoven wrote in the mid range of the piano in his early years, but latterly his works featured much more use of the extreme treble and bass. This is attributed to Beethoven’s need to put his head up close to the keyboard to hear what was going on.

He was only 5ft 4 inches tall, had syphilis, typhus, dropsy and chronic constipation alternating with diarrhoea. He was basically a total slob who couldn’t be trusted with a chamber pot. (Source: BBATB Page 81 in footnotes)

After his death, the post mortem reported that Beethoven’s brain “contained a smaller proportion of water than is usual. The convultions seemed to be of double the depth and more numerous than ordinarily”.

5743.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:23 am Reply with quote

1. Berlioz was originally a student of medicine, not music, in Paris. (ODM Page 86)
2. He had not heard an orchestra before arriving in Paris at the age of 17.
3. He was smuggled into the choir and sang bass in St Paul’s cathedral during a visit to London.

5744.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:25 am Reply with quote

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was an eminent Professor of Chemistry, and was the founder of a School of Medicine for Women. He actually remained a Chemist all his life which is why he only ever wrote 21 complete works - but they were acknowledged corkers. (source ODM page 107 – OMU page 120)

Sadly he dropped dead in the middle of a party, which spoiled things rather (source OMU page 121)
[Question – what did Borodin do at a party?]

5745.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:27 am Reply with quote

Brahms (1833 (same year as Borodin) -1897) was an obsessive coffee drinker and started every day at 5am by brewing his own ultra strong brew which he drank with an equally strong cigar.
(sources: OMU page 125 (also plate 23 showing him with his coffee) &

Beethoven was also a keen coffee drinker. He counted 60 beans for every cup he drank. (BBATB page 81).

Brahms started his career at 13 as a pianist playing in taverns and brothels (Source: BBATB page 90, ODM page 114, OMU page 125)

His voice did not break until he was 24 years old; he fell in love with Clara, who was wife of Schumann’s wife, which caused a bit of a stir. (source: BBATB page 91 General interesting information on Clara at

Brahms was short-tempered and irritable. He was overweight and drank heavily. Late in life he may have suffered a stroke. (source:

5746.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:30 am Reply with quote

Thomas Beecham. All from Beecham Stories compiled by Harold Atkins & Archie Newman. Robson Books 2001

“At figure 19, cymbals, a grand smash of your delightful instruments to help in the general welter of sound, if you please’

“The English don’t like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes”

When Sir Thomas walked on stage and was greeted by complete silence, he turned to the orchestra and said; ‘Let us pray.’

When conducting a woman pianist who’s playing was singularly lacklustre, Beecham was asked if they should remove the piano on after the interval. He replied, ‘Oh, leave it on. Anyway, it will probably slink off by itself’.

Most famously, to a woman ‘cellist: ‘Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands – and all you can do is scratch it’

Beecham’s description of instruments:
The organ; ‘A mechanical box of whistles’

The harpsichord: ‘Sounds like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof’ & ‘A birdcage played with a toasting fork’

To a trombone player; ‘Are you producing as much sound as possible from that quaint and antique drainage system which you are applying to your face?’

To a tuba player after he accidentally played a ‘raspberry’. ‘Thank you, and now would you pull the chain?’

5830.  Tue Feb 10, 2004 6:03 am Reply with quote

Beethoven, whilst staying in Baden where he was regarded as the local eccentic, was once arrestedI in nearby Wiener Neustadt after a local resident called the police because she was so frightened by his dishevelled appearance. The composer: " I am Beethoven ". Constable: " You are a tramp. Beethoven doesn’t look like that. ". The local musical director finally identified him and he was sent back to Baden in the state coach.
s: RGA

5831.  Tue Feb 10, 2004 6:08 am Reply with quote

This was first posted elsewhere:
From the letters page of The Times 25.10.03: “ There is a story that a friend of Brahms classified his wines by composer. As the climax to a tour of his cellar he offered the great man a glass with the words: “ And this is my Brahms.” The composer sipped, reflected briefly and replied: “ I think we had better try your Beethoven “. ( Sent in by Andrew Duncan, of Godalming, Surrey )

790917.  Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:07 am Reply with quote

Music give relaxation and refreshment. There are many type of music like pop, rock, jazz, classical and so on. Music is effects on our mood and mind. My favourite musician is A.R. rahman.

790928.  Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:25 am Reply with quote

Ooh, keep an eye on this one.

791092.  Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:11 pm Reply with quote

Already gone...

Spud McLaren
791130.  Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:08 pm Reply with quote

sunnucks wrote:
Thomas Beecham
When asked what he thought of Stockhausen, he replied, "I stepped in some once."

In my humble opinion, this comment was undeserved.

Erik Satie began in 1887 to give his pieces odd titles, and directions such as :

Thinking of promotion
In the morning, on an empty stomach
Pianissimo, short of breath
With a lot of difficulty

and the titles:

Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear (there are six pieces in this collection)
Things Viewed from the Right and the Left, Without Spectacles
Cold Portions

(from here)


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