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A Thing or Two About a Tune or Two: Composer Catfights

Cat FightThis segment of Fun Friday originally appeared on November 15, 2013. Don’t want to wait until Friday for your dose of classical music humor? Check out the archive of  Fun Friday posts.


Composing is so taxing. You have all of these thoughts and sounds running around in your head. You’re not eating or sleeping. The classical music muse who was once a regular visitor is now but an infrequent guest. Ahhhhh!!!!! Whyyyyyyy?????

Sometimes composers get tired. Sometimes they get cranky. Sometimes they get jealous. And sometimes they get catty.

They scrapped and squabbled and we picked up what they were putting down. Here are the 10 best composer on composer insults.

1. Aaron Copland on Ralph Vaughan Williams: “Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for 45 minutes.”

Copland
Aaron_Copland_1970

Vaughn Williams
412px-Vaughan-Williams-by-Rothenstein

2. Richard Strauss on Arnold Schoenberg: “He’d be better off shoveling snow than scribbling on manuscript paper.”

Strauss
strauss

Schoenberg
Arnold_Schoenberg_la_1948

3.Igor Stravinsky on Handel’s Theodra: “It’s beautiful and boring. Too many pieces finish too long after the end.”

Stravinsky
Stravinsky

George Frederic Handel
Haendel

4. Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress: “I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music.”

Britten
Britten

5. Sergei Prokofiev on Igor Stravinsky: “Bach on all the wrong notes”

Prokofiev
prokofiev

6. Richard Wagner on Chopin: “A composer for one right hand.”

Wagner
RichardWagner

Federic Chopin
Chopin,_by_Wodzinska

7. Saint-Saens on Ravel: “If he had been making shell cases during the war it might have been better for music.”

Camille Saint-Saens
Saintsaens

Maurice Ravel
Maurice_Ravel_1925

8. Gioachino Rossini on Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique: “What a good thing this isn’t music.”
Composer_Rossini_G_1865_by_Carjat

Berlioz
Hector_Berlioz_Crop

9. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky on Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov: “It is the most insipid and base parody on music.”

Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky_1906_Evans

Mussorgsky
Modest_Musorgskiy,_1870

10. Michael Linton on Philip Glass: “It’s good to have an idea.”

Linton
Michael Linton

Glass
Philip Glass

Did we leave out one of your favorite composer on composer insults? Share with us your thoughts by commenting below this post. Don’t forget to follow us on social media and subscribe to our mailing list!

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