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Archive for the ‘Artist Anecdotes’ Category

Rossini’s Risky Business

“Please don’t throw me out the window!! I’m a MAESTRO!” Does Procrastination lead to Defenestration? Professor Robert Greenberg, in a wonderful lecture for the Teaching Company, read a letter in which opera composer Gioachino Rossini (nicknamed “The Italian Mozart”) confessed his last minute habits. According to Rossini: “Wait until the evening before opening night- nothing primes inspiration more than necessity! Whether it be the presence of a copyist waiting for your work or the prodding of an impresario tearing at his hair (In my time, all the impresarios of Italy were bald by 30). I wrote the overture to La Gazza Ladra the day of its opening- in the theater itself- where I was imprisoned by the director and under the direct surveillance of the stage hands who were instructed to throw my original text through the window, page by page,

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American opera singer Lillian Nordica’s Wacky Wedding

Lillian Nordica

Soprano Lillian Nordica’s Wacky Wedding Crime of Passion or Fairly Typical Operatic Engagement? * You Decide. by Leticia Marie Sanchez Lillian Nordica, the first American opera singer to perform at Bayreuth, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase shot gun wedding. While performing in New York, Lillian attracted the attentions of an American suitor which vexed her beau in Hungary. The gossipy hotel maid in the opera singer’s New York hotel suite reported the soprano’s every move to her boyfriend back home. Upon getting the scoop of the new suitor from the Chatty-Patty-cleaning-lady, Lilian’s Hungarian beau set sail for New York. As soon as he arrived in Manhattan, he showed up at the opera diva’s hotel room, not with a bouquet of freshly fragrant Magnolias for his lady, but brandishing the cold, steel barrel of a pistol. He pointed the

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The 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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Henri Matisse- Don’t touch the fruit!

by Leticia Marie Sanchez According to Kathleen Krull, in her book “Lives of the Artists,” Henri Matisse subsisted on a strict diet of rice-only when he first started out as a painter. Not Rice-A-Roni.  Just plain boiled rice. Matisse refused to even allow himself to indulge in the luscious fruit that he bought for his still life paintings. Instead, he saved that fruit for his art. And for us.  Enjoy. Henri Matisse, Still Life with Oranges. 1899   Editor’s Note: Matisse eventually became one of the highest-paid artists of his time, imbing champagne and moving to the French Riviera– a real Rice to Riches story!

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Salvador Dalí and the Cauliflower-stuffed Rolls Royce

by Leticia Marie Sanchez                                                                                                                                                                 Salvador Dalí mastered the art of creating his own image. Dalí shocked audiences everywhere with his flamboyant persona. A limousine or taxi was just too dull for the outrageous surrealist. So Mr. Dali drove a Rolls Royce stuffed to the brim with…. cauliflower.   The veggie-mobile was the automobile of choice for Mr. Dali as he drove to La Sorbonne University

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Bach and the Nanny-Goat Bassoonist

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 with his cousin. Geyersbach accused Bach of having insulted his bassoon skill, 18th century lexicon for “Come at Me Bro.” Bach denied having insulted him. Geyersbach retorted, “Whoever insults my bassoon, insults me.” He then called Bach a “dirty dog” and Bach drew his sword. The two

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Rock on, Gottlieb– the many nicknames of Mozart

In honor of MOZART’S BIRTHDAY, his many nicknames First published by Cultural Cocktail Hour on May 2, 2011 Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark by Leticia Marie Sanchez A lecture by Professor Robert Greenberg, from San Francisco Performances, revealed hidden gems about Mozart’s name. Enjoy! Baptized Name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart The divinely-inspired composer adored word games. He called himself: Di Mozartini, Mozartus, and Mozarti  He also enjoyed playing with the letters of his name and called himself:  Romatz, Trazom, Volfgangus (Latin Version) Gangflow (backwards)  His middle name, Theophilus, had the most permutations  His father called him GOTTLIEB because Gottlieb is the German version of Theophilus- “love of God”) What was Mozart’s personal favorite?  Amédée, the French version, which he picked up when he lived in Paris.  He actually never referred to himself as Amadeus!  (Unless it was a joke,

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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!

In honor of Thanksgiving, Beethoven’s Beef Stew! 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

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Young Verdi: Altar Boy

Verdi

By Leticia Marie Sanchez       Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark In honor of the 200th birthday of Italian Composer Giuseppe Verdi, Cultural Cocktail Hour will be sharing anecdotes about the life of this illustrious maestro. In his Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht relates a revealing incident from Verdi’s childhood. The seven-year-old Verdi, born into a modest family, once served as an altar boy at the church of Le Rencole. During Fête Day, the young boy heard the organ for the first time. Transported by the emanating musical harmonies, the child did not hear the priest’s request for water. Three times did the priest make his demand, to no avail. Enraged at the child with his head in the clouds, the priest struck a severe blow, pushing young Verdi down the three altar stairs, knocking him into unconsciousness. When

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