Composers' Replies to Critics

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Charles
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Composers' Replies to Critics

Post by Charles » Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:17 am

As quoted in the thread on Bruch, Max Reger wrote to a critic, "I'm sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review before me. Soon it will be behind me."

Beethoven was sitting in the audience during a perfomance of one of his works. He was behind two composers whose names are now forgotten. Hearing them speak negatively about his music, he said, "I s__t better music than you two write!"

MaestroDJS
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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:47 am

It can be fun to read some composers' criticisms of other composers. It's probably hard for them to be objective, because they probably have their own musical ideas in mind. Tchaikovsky wrote this criticism of Brahms in this diary: "I played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms. What a giftless bastard! It annoys me that this self-inflated mediocrity is hailed as a genius. Why, in comparison with him, Raff is a giant, not to speak of Rubinstein, who is after all a live and important human being, while Brahms is chaotic and absolutely empty dried-up stuff."

Some composers make fun of themselves. One night when he was still a young man, Haydn and his friend Dittersdorf entered a beer hall where musicians, half drunk and half asleep, fiddled away miserably at a Haydn minuet. Haydn sat down beside the leader and asked casually, "Whose minuet?" The man snapped, "Haydn’s." Haydn declared, "That’s a stinking minuet!" "Says who?" demanded the fiddler, jumping out of his seat filled with rage. The other musicans rallied around him ready to smash their instruments over Haydn’s head, but Dittersdorf, a big fellow, shielded Haydn with his arm and pushed him out of the door and harm’s way. (Reprinted from Biographische Nachrichten von Joseph Haydn, A. C. Dies, 1810)

This is yet another example of Dittersdorf's great contributions to music.

Dave

David Stybr
Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to author Denise Swanson
http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~
Book 7: Murder of a Smart Cookie, July 2005
Penguin Putnam ~ Signet, New York, New York

David Stybr, Engineer and Composer: It's Left Brain vs. Right Brain: best 2 falls out of 3
http://members.SibeliusMusic.com/Stybr

Coordinator, Classical Music SIG (Special Interest Group) of American Mensa

MaestroDJS
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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:52 am

This might be the once of the best composers' replies ever to critics, because it's in the form of music:

French composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was well ahead of his time, but one of his greatest successes was at first thought to be far behind the times. Berlioz was poorly appreciated during his lifetime, and critics and audiences alike disdained his music. In November 1850 he needed a choral piece for a program, so he composed "L’Adieu des Bergers" (The Shepherds’ Farewell). Berlioz claimed that it was a fragment of an oratorio called La Fuite en Egypte (The Flight Into Egypt), by an imaginary 17th-Century church musician: Pierre Ducré, Music-Master of Ste. Chapelle. He derived the name Ducré from a friends, architect Joseph-Louis Duc (Duc + Ré). Berlioz had no interest in early music, but he undertook this deception to prove that his fellow Parisians were unable to appreciate his music and that the critics in particular were incompetent. Incredibly, the Parisian public was completely fooled. Critics wrote glowing articles about the valuable work which Berlioz had unearthed. One listener remarked, "It has real melody, which is remarkably rare nowadays. Berlioz would never be able to write a tune as simple and charming as this little piece by old Ducré." This insult illustrates just how low an opinion Paris had of Berlioz the composer.

As the admiration reached its height, Berlioz revealed that the work was his own. The critics were stunned, but they could not withdraw their unanimous admiration. Thus Berlioz had his music favorably criticized and brought to prominence, which it received only for its supposed antiquity. This gentle chorus eventually became the centerpiece of his L’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ). When the entire oratorio was first performed in December 1854, it was one of his greatest successes. One newspaper wrote: "Its success could not be more complete or more brilliant. The composer has reaped in a single day the harvest of so many years of struggle, patience and toil." L’Enfance du Christ is almost unique in his output for its tender, naïve and archaic style. It is a masterpiece of lyricism, simplicity and restraint.

Dave

David Stybr
Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to author Denise Swanson
http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~
Book 7: Murder of a Smart Cookie, July 2005
Penguin Putnam ~ Signet, New York, New York

David Stybr, Engineer and Composer: It's Left Brain vs. Right Brain: best 2 falls out of 3
http://members.SibeliusMusic.com/Stybr

Coordinator, Classical Music SIG (Special Interest Group) of American Mensa

Charles
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 7:52 am

Post by Charles » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:23 pm

Louis Armstrong was walking with. a friend in the street in Chicago one day near the end of the 1920s when he came upon a street band with a trumpeter playing his famous solo chorus from the record 'Struttin' With Some Barbecue.' "You're playing that too slow," said Louis. "Says who?" answered the musician scornfully. "Says me, it's my solo!" said Armstrong.

MaestroDJS
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Post by MaestroDJS » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:43 pm

I chanced upon this funny (yet sad) critique of the first recording of Pierrot Lunaire on 78-RPM discs in Time magazine, Monday, Oct. 13, 1941: "Arnold Schönberg: Pierrot Lunaire (chamber orchestra conducted by Composer Schönberg, with recitation by Erika Stiedry-Wagner; Columbia; 8 sides; $4.50). Twenty-one poems of Albert Giraud are wailed and caterwauled in musical speech (Sprechstimme) to the fevered sounds of eight strings and woodwinds (in various combinations). Modernist Schönberg's jittery measures, more talked about than listened to (Pierrot has had only two U.S. performances), here get their first recording, a fine example of what, 30 years ago, began to ail 20th-century music."

If this is what "began to ail 20th-century music", then I'm happy to be delirious with fever.

Anyway, I think Schönberg's reply to this criticism was perfect. He ignored it completely, and let his music live on long after critics like this were forgotten.

Dave

David Stybr
Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to author Denise Swanson
http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~
Book 7: Murder of a Smart Cookie, July 2005
Penguin Putnam ~ Signet, New York, New York

David Stybr, Engineer and Composer: It's Left Brain vs. Right Brain: best 2 falls out of 3
http://members.SibeliusMusic.com/Stybr

Coordinator, Classical Music SIG (Special Interest Group) of American Mensa

MahlerSnob
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Post by MahlerSnob » Sat Sep 10, 2005 1:28 pm

Sam Adler once told me a story about the premier of one of his string quartets many years ago. He arrived late for the concert, and had to take a seat in the back of the hall next to an elderly woman. The woman began talking to him and said something to the effect of "Yes, they're doing Haydn and Beethoven, and then this awful new piece." Sam didn't say anything, but the woman turned a bright shade of red when he stood up to accept the applause for his piece.
-Nathan Lofton
Boston, MA

WWBD - What Would Bach Do?

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 10, 2005 1:48 pm

MahlerSnob wrote:Sam Adler once told me a story about the premier of one of his string quartets many years ago. He arrived late for the concert, and had to take a seat in the back of the hall next to an elderly woman. The woman began talking to him and said something to the effect of "Yes, they're doing Haydn and Beethoven, and then this awful new piece." Sam didn't say anything, but the woman turned a bright shade of red when he stood up to accept the applause for his piece.
Excuse me, but who the heck is Sam Adler?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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diegobueno
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Post by diegobueno » Sun Sep 11, 2005 6:08 pm

Black lives matter.

pizza
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Post by pizza » Mon Sep 12, 2005 9:11 am

Adler's String Quartets 4, 5 & 8 played by the Charleston Quartet on Gasparo 307 are quite good and worth a listen.

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