Humorous Quotes from
My Favorite Comedies in Music
By Victor Borge
- Believe me, musicians are just people. We have our ups, down, and sideways.
- Read (this book), smile, enjoy, and if you happen to learn something along the way, don’t get upset.
- Somebody once defined a lute player as a musician who spends half his life tuning, and the other half playing out of tune.
- Clarinets, like lawyers, have cases, mouthpieces, and they need a constant supply of hot air in order to function.
- It (the double-clarinet in India) was primarily used for snake charming, since the snake would do almost anything to get the Indians to stop playing it.
- The oboe sounds like a clarinet with a cold.
- The trombone is sometimes nicknamed the slush pump, but preferably not where the trombonist can hear it.
- If you look up “baroque” in ten different encyclopedias, you’ll get ten different explanations, all of them impossible to understand.
- His (Vivaldi's) main job was as a music professor at a convent school for illegitimate and orphaned girls in Venice, and since some of the girls were nineteen and twenty years old, Antonio often was in love with his work.
- Franz Joseph Haydn was born on March 31, 1732 (some books say April 1 but they must be fooling)
- Haydn wrote a little song that went:
If in the whole wide world
One very worst wife there is,
How sad it is that each of us
Knows well that she is his.
- Since God has given me a cheerful heart, He will forgive me for serving Him cheerfully. ~ Franz Joseph Haydn
- The conductor is a peculiar person. He turns his back on his friends in the audience, shakes a stick at his players in the orchestra, and then wonders why nobody loves him.
- I really don’t know why people make so much fuss over conductors. I've been doing a lot of conducting lately myself, and it’s very easy. You move your hands up, down, and sideways, and the music comes out.
- The quote comes from a book called Musicae Activae Micrologus, by Ornithoparcus, if my memory serves me correctlicus.
- Richard Strauss, listening to the soprano at a rehearsal of his opera Elektra, suddenly shouted to the orchestra “Louder, louder, I can still hear her!”
- The conductor (Toscanini) had worn himself out screaming at the orchestra men, then he suddenly calmed down and said to them quietly “After I die, I shall return to earth as the doorkeeper of a bordello, and I won't let a single one of you in.”
- When somebody recommended a particular soloist to him, Sir Thomas (Beecham) said “as a violinist he has only one defect – he can't play the violin.”
- He (Sir Thomas Beecham) didn’t have mush use for maestros from other countries. “Why do we have to have all these third-rate foreign conductors around,” he grumbled, “when we have so many second-rate ones of our own?”
- To a not-so-efficient orchestral player Sir Thomas (Beecham) rumbled: “We do not expect you to follow us all the time, but do have the goodness to keep in touch with us occasionally.”
- To a soprano (Sir Thomas Beecham said) : “Your voice sounds like a cart rolling downhill with the brakes on.” When she objected, “Sir Thomas I’ll have you know that I am the prima donna,” Beecham was all politeness again. “Madam,” he replied with a bow, “your secret is safe with me.”
- Often Schubert would chain-compose, starting another song as soon as he finished the previous one, completing seven or eight in a single day. Sometimes he would go to bed with his glasses on so that he could continue composing as soon as he woke up the next morning.
||Favorite Long Quote/Extract
One day while Brahms was out somebody came to visit him. The door was
unlocked so the fellow entered and looked around the room and was shocked to
see papers strewn all over the floor and a thick layer of dust covering the
piano. Disgustedly, he traced the word "Pig" in the dust, and left. A few
days later, he met the composer on the street and mentioned the incident. "I
know," Brahms snorted, "I found your calling card!"
- Nobody pressured him as a child, so Felix (Mendelssohn) didn’t manage to write his first song until he was five.
- Mendelssohn never wrote any Water Music. However, he wrote the Scotch Symphony, which is even better, or at least stronger.
- They say that Johannes Brahms once left a party in Vienna, paused at the doorstep for a moment, and then called back into the house, “If there’s anyone here I forgot to insult, please accept my humblest apologies.”
- When Boston’s Symphony Hall was being constructed, critic Philip Hale suggested that there be at least one exit sign reading “This way out in case of Brahms.”
- Brahms did not always have the great long beard we’ve all seen in paintings and photographs. In fact, as a child, he was completely without it.
- “Whoever can swallow this concerto,” wrote Hugo Wolf after Brahms appeared as soloist in the premier of his Second Piano Concerto, “will be able to get along splendid in times of famine on the nutritive equivalent of window glass, cork stoppers, and stove pipes.”
- When a Viennese composer came to him after a premiere and said “A splendid work, your new symphony, only sometimes it reminds me of some other music,” Brahms snapped back “What other music – your next symphony?”
- When Brahms was trying out his new sonata with a not-so-good cellist, he played the piano part louder and louder until the cellist called out “Please I can't hear myself at all.” “You're lucky,” said Brahms, hitting another fortissimo, “I still can!”
- When seated at the piano, one may feel a whole orchestra in their hands. It’s like controlling ten instrumental sections, playing the melody and counter-melodies with the accompaniment all together, and still having a finger or two left over to make mistakes with.
- At the moment I am writing a piano concerto for wrong notes only; but as I progress I find that similar pieces have been done before.
- Ambrose Bierce, the famous humorist, came away from one recital saying that the piano is operated by “depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience at the same time.”
- Offstage, (Vladimir) de Pachmann was pretty odd too. He milked cows because he said it kept his fingers well exercised, and before every concert he would dip his fingers, one by one, into a glass of brandy. Maybe it helped with the high notes.
- His (Chopin's) father played the flute and violin, his mother sang, his older sister played the piano, and whenever they made music together, little Frederic would burst into tears. Since he was too young to be a critic, everybody got very worried, but it turned out that the boy was simply crying with pleasure at the beautiful sounds.
- Ambrose Bierce once defined the violin as “an instrument which tries to tickle human ears by the friction of a horse’s tail on the entrails of a cat.”
- They say that Nero started the fire himself because he needed a suitable backdrop for his concert.
- I am reluctant to be nasty about another musician, but what is there good to say about Nero? The best I can think of is that he didn’t murder his mother until he was twenty-two.
- In his book, The Glory of the Violin, Mr. Wechsberg says that old violins are like young women: "They want to be wooed and may lovingly respond to your efforts, but if you make a mistake, they scream.” A violin has an hourglass figure, with a curved waist, an arched belly, a graceful neck, a resonating body, and even a cute little tailpiece, so we ought to agree with Mr. W.
- The great Belgian violinist-composer Henri Vieuxtemps came to the same conclusion. “Never lend your wife or your violin,” he advised a friend, “both are sure to come back damaged.”
- A London society lady once invited (August) Wilhemj to a tea party, slyly adding a P.S.: “Please bring your violin.” Wilhemj accepted immediately, only he added a P.S. of his own: “My violin begs to be excused – it never drinks tea.” This anecdote has been attributed to other famous violinists, but Wilhemj is the one that counts.
- “Had he (Paganini) played like that a century ago,” wrote one French critic, “he would have been burned as a sorcerer.”
- Sir Thomas Moore complained that his (Paganini's) harmonics "sound like the mewlings of an expiring cat.”
- Well, all’s fair in love, war and fooling the critics.
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