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Archive for the ‘Artist Anecdotes’ Category

Roman Emperor Caligula loved horsing around…

Salvador Dali- Caligula

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? by Leticia Marie Sanchez Salvador Dalí s painting, “Le Cheval de Caligula” depicts Incitatus, pampered pony of blood-thirsty Roman emperor Caligula. The often-violent Caligula became so enraptured with his stallion that he giddily showered him with 18 servants, a marble stable, an ivory manger, rich red robes, and a bejeweled collar. Caligula even made sure that his horse had a lil’ wifey and presented him with the alluring mare Penelope as a bride. The neurotic emperor demanded that everyone bow down to his horse as a god. No Mueslix or chewy carrots for this horsey. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula’s horse snacked on oats mixed with flex of gold, naturally, and sipped the finest wine from golden goblets. Dignitaries must have clenched their teeth politely when Caligula required that they all sit at the dinner table

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Bach and the Nanny-Goat Bassoonist

Some celebrate BACH’s BIRTHDAY  on March 21st, some on March 31st (due to the differences in the Gregorian and the Julian calendar). We here at Cultural Cocktail Hour celebrate BACH’s BIRTHDAY  all month long! In honor of his birthday, here is an anecdote about the musical legend: Bach…the Brawler? Did J.S Bach, the eminent composer of such celestial works as the Goldberg Variations, the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Brandenberg concertos, and the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor have an alter ego? It appears that the clever Kapellmeister, director of heavenly choirs, and the composer of music divine, may have had a mischievous streak. As choir director in Arnsadt, the 20-year old Bach got into fisticuffs with a student named Johann Geyersbach. The brawl originated thusly: walking softly and carrying a big stick, Geyersbach approached Bach as he crossed the marketplace

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Mozart’s Mug Shot?

Holy Cadenza! Do you recognize this guy? This photo represents a facial composite of  that 21 year old wunderkind Mozart, created in the around 1990s by the Bundeskriminalamt Wiesbaden—the Federal Criminal Police Office of Wiesbaden, Germany—from four portraits painted during the composer’s lifetime, according to the website Dangerous Minds. Via: http://dangerousminds.net/comments/mozarts_mug_shot What do you think? Would you trust this guy with a Sonata? Incidentally, Mozart found forgiveness for one of the few “illegal” activities in which he found himself embroiled. As a 14 year old, he created the first illegal copy of “Misere,” a piece heavily protected by the Vatican. Even copying the piece from memory (as Mozart did) was punishable by excommunication. However, when the Pope met the young prodigy, instead of scolding him, he lavished the youngster with high praise. But, of course!

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Beethoven & the Beef Stew- don’t try this at home!

First published by Cultural Cocktail Hour on January 21, 2011 by Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark According to Norman Lebrecht, author of “The Book of Musical Anectodes” (Simon & Schuster, 1985), Beethoven flew off the handle when a waiter at the Viennese restaurant “The Swan,” brought him the wrong meat dish. Some artists are particular about their piano benches (Gould) while others are particular about their beef.  An outraged Beethoven hurled the dish, gravy and all, over the waiter’s head. Just as the wrong meat could turn him into a raging bull, the right one could turn him into a loving lamb.  When his friend Ferdinand Ries sent him a particular type of roast veal, Beethoven kissed and embraced him, telling him “never had anything given him such pleasure as the roast veal, coming at the very moment when

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The Christmas fruitcake fiasco: Puccini versus Toscanini

In her revealing book, Secret Lives of the Great Composers, Elizabeth Lundy described a fruity fiasco between two rivals: opera composers, Giacomo Puccini and conductor Arturo Toscanini: “During the years of Puccini and Toscanini’s feud, they had very little contact- except for one Christmastime incident. That year Puccini forgot to remove the conductor’s name from the list of friends to whom he sent the traditional Italian holiday gift, a pannetone cake. When Puccini realized his error, he sent Toscanini a telegram reading: “PANNETONE SENT BY MISTAKE. PUCCINI.” Toscanini replied, “PANNETONE EATEN BY MISTAKE. TOSCANINI.”

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A truly Cultural Cocktail: The Bellini!

by Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark And now, for a delicious libation that epitomizes the Cultural Cocktail! You can share this trivia the next time you are at a cocktail party and become the toast of the fete! Did you know that the Bellini cocktail was named after the Venetian Renaissance painter, Giovanni Bellini? The history of this popular drink harkens back to Harry’s Bar in Venice.  A Who’s Who of artistic luminaries frequented this bar including Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, Arturo Toscanini, Peggy Guggenheim, and Alfred Hitchcock. In 1948, Harry’s Bar owner Giuseppe Cipriani created a concoction blending peach puree and Prosecco. He named the refreshing cocktail a “Bellini,” after the sumptuous peach hue on the toga of a saint painted by Giovanni Bellini. This exquisite painting (Virgin and Child with Saint John the

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Mozart and the Barber Shop Chase

“Why Can’t you Sit Still? “Because I’m Mozart” In his delightful tome, The Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht reveals that the perpetually inspired Mozart led his Barber on a hair-cutting chase: “Every moment an idea would occur to him…he would run to the clavier, the barber after him, hair-ribbon in hand.” Luckily for Mozart, the barber had a steady hand.

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Wagner, Robber,and the Flying Dutchman

                                                        Wagner, Robber, and the Flying Dutchman By Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark He not have been an actual thief, but Richard Wagner’s Newfoundland dog Robber successfully stole the composer’s heart. In Wagner Without Fear, author William Berger regales us with colorful tales from Wagner’s life, including his tumultuous journey from Riga to Paris. When the debt-ridden Wagner and his wife Minna decided to escape from present-day Latvia, the composer insisted that Robber join them, despite the great risk. Cossack patrols guarded the Prussian border, with orders to shoot and kill the unlucky fugitives who caught their attention. Miraculously, the pooch did not make a peep as they dashed

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Schoenberg to Strauss– Thanks but No Thanks

schoenberg

If you don’t have anything nice to say…. Richard Strauss’ caustic jabs about Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg came back to haunt him. In his delightful Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht reveals that when Schoenberg was asked to compose a piece for his sharp tongued critic, he wrote back as follows: “Dear Sir, I regret that I am unable to accept your invitation to write something for Richard Strauss’s fiftieth birthday. In a letter to Frau Mahler…Herr Strauss wrote about me as follows: The only person who can help poor Schoenberg now is a psychiatrist…. I think he’d do better to shovel snow instead of scribbling on music paper. It seems to me that the opinion I myself and indeed everyone else who knows these remarks is bound to have of Herr Strauss as a man (for here is envy of a

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Beethoven: In a Stew Over Beef?

by Leticia Marie Sanchez According to Norman Lebrecht, author of “The Book of Musical Anectodes” (Simon & Schuster, 1985), Beethoven flew off the handle when a waiter at the Viennese restaurant “The Swan,” brought him the wrong meat dish. Some artists are particular about their piano benches (Gould) while others are particular about their beef.  An outraged Beethoven hurled the dish, gravy and all, over the waiter’s head. Just as the wrong meat could turn him into a raging bull, the right one could turn him into a loving lamb.  When his friend Ferdinand Ries sent him a particular type of roast veal, Beethoven kissed and embraced him, telling him “never had anything given him such pleasure as the roast veal, coming at the very moment when he so greatly longed for it.” (Lebrehct, 81) Beethoven also adored bread soup,

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