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Archive for the ‘Artist Anecdotes’ Category

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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Giotto and Dante

One of the most illustrious artists at the forefront of the Italian Renaissance, Giotto di Bondone, enjoyed a friendship with his contemporary, the celebrated author of the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. Legend has it that one day, Dante made an impudent comment to Giotto about the painter’s eight children, who according to Dante, were quite homely. “Giotto,” Dante inquired, “how can a man who creates such beautiful paintings create such ugly children?” “Well,” Giotto quipped, “I did make them in the dark.” Above Painting: Giotto Painting The Portrait Of Dante. 1852. D. G. Rossetti 

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Escape from the Doge Palace: Casanova and the buttered Gnocchi

  Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from the Secret Passageways of the Doge Palace, Venice. Escape from Doge Palace: Casanova and the Buttered Gnocchi by Leticia Marie Sanchez Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark In typical prison escapes, inmates rely on wires, jackhammers, or drills to plan their bold getaways. Not so for Casanova. The eighteenth century’s infamous Venetian ladies man successfully fled from the Doge Palace thanks to….. a heaping plate of buttered Gnocchi. Cultural Cocktail Hour visited the Doge Palace’s secret passageways, torture chambers, and gloomy inquisition spaces set up by the Doge’s spies. Our tour guide revealed that although Casanova’s cell was fully furnished (which is how he was able to cook up a plate of Gnocchi), the terror of being sequestered in a space by volatile rulers (who never even told

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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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The tumultuous love life of Richard Strauss- part deux- Strauss versus Stransky

Since so many of my readers enjoyed reading about Richard Strauss’s unusual engagement to the libretto-throwing singer Pauline De Ahna: Strange Love: the berserk engagement of Richard Strauss  we will now continue onto his roller coaster marriage. Due to a letter mix-up, his wife Pauline de Ahna filed for divorce. In his book, Richard Strauss, Tim Ashley reports that while Strauss was working in England, his wife opened a letter from a female opera fan. The fan mentioned looking for a composer at Union Bar and asked for opera tickets. The harmless letter caused Mrs. Strauss to foam at the mouth. She contacted an attorney, telegraphed Strauss (who was working in England) to let him know that she was filing for divorce, demanded to draw their life savings from a bank, and prepared to vacate their apartment.  Strauss telegraphed his wife

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Strange Love: the berserk engagement of Richard Strauss

by Leticia Marie Sanchez Some men plan a midnight stroll by the beach. Others a calm picnic under stars… Richard Strauss‘ engagement to temperamental soprano Pauline de Ahna involved: 1. being shrieked at by a soprano, having a musical score thrown at his head, and ducking flying objects Elizabeth Lundy, in her book, Secret Lives of Great Composers, reports that after being conducted by Strauss in an opera rehearsal, Miss Diva Pauline went ballistic over a difference of opinion over tempo. “Pauline threw her score at Strauss’s head…the entire orchestra tiptoed.. so they could listen to the screaming, shrieking, and occasional thuds as objects flew around the room… The musicians announced that in respect for their conductor and in protest of Pauline’s outrageous behavior, they would refuse to participate in any further production in which Fraulein de Ahna had a role. “That distresses me,” said Strauss,

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Beyond Civilized- Von Bulow vis a vis Wagner

Cosima Liszt, the daughter of the illustrious composer Franz Liszt, married conductor and pianist Hans Von Bulow. While married to Von Bulow, she became pregnant three times with the offspring of German composer Richard Wagner, bearing Wagner three children: Isolde, Ava, and Siegfried. Although she initially denied the affair, Cosima eventually left Von Bulow to move in with Wagner. Von Bulow’s response? In a letter contained in Norman Lebrecht’s “Book of Musical Anecdotes,” Von Bulow declares his wife’s lover to be superior to himself in every way: “You have preferred to devote your life and the treasures of your mind and affection to one who is my superior, and far from blaming you, I approve your action from every point of view and admit you are perfectly right…the only consoling though has been that Cosima is happy over there.” Below:

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Jamming Django

Legend has it that prolific Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt enchanted Andrés Segovia with a jazz crepuscule. After the captivating performance Segovia asked if he could take a peek at the sheet music. Django laughed and replied, “I just made it up.”

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