Here is some of my favorite Trivia, Stories, and Jokes about Classical Music
- When Rachmaninoff's 1st Symphony was first performed it was an enormous flop, with all Critics panning it. It took a long time for it to be performed regularly. This is now blamed on the Conductor, Composer/Conductor Alexander Glazunov was intoxicated at the Premier, and also lack of orchestra rehearsal. This sent Rachy into a depression where he could not compose. Friends recommended a hypnotist who cured him using the power of suggestion that his next composition would be great and well accepted. It was.
- When Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen were collaborating on the Peer Gynt stage play, Grieg, who wrote the incidental music, had a hard time working with him; and he would never work with him again. Everybody thought that having Norway's greatest Poet working with it's greatest Composer would be great. Whoever performs the play anymore? I have the play published by Easton Press.
- In one period of the play, Peer Gynt makes a small fortune. He traded in... "Negro slaves for Carolina, and idol images for China". It certainly is a bleak reference point in how slavery was viewed by the Europeans in 1867, right after the US Civil War. He did feel bad about this, "But trust me, when you've once begun, it's hard to break away again", so he sent missionaries and supplies to teach the children in these same countries. I was surprised at the content of the play.
- Did Offenbach listen to Bach often? [rim shot!]
- Leonard Bernstein attended many Tanglewood summers; his father owned a furniture store in western Massachusetts. The Boston Symphony didn't care for Lennie much, and although he wanted to be Musical Director for the BSO, they didn't want him, and never offered him the position. The New York Philharmonic was more interested in him. They wanted someone handsome, flashy, and the fact that Bernstein had successful musicals on Broadway, didn't hurt him. He was NYC's Golden Boy. The three photos below are significant.
- When Rogers and Hammerstein decided to hire Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae to star in the 20th Century Fox movie Oklahoma, they sent them on a road tour, which was touring anyway. What does this have to do with Classical Music? The Hollywood studios had their own professional orchestras, some of whose members played in the LA Philharmonic and other area symphonies. This is our country's folk opera.
- When Igor Stravinsky lived in West Hollywood from the 40's through thee 60's, he had big Cadillacs, and his friend Jascha Heifetz had a Roll-Royce which he maintained himself in his own garage (he was a good mechanic). He worked on Stravinsky's Cadillacs when they needed it. Heifetz had an accident in 1972, working on a car in his garage which damaged his arm, putting an end to his recording and performance career; but he continued teaching the violin. Robert Craft was Stravinsky's collaborator and ghostwriter/biographer.