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Roy Sonne

Musical Quiz -- The Dancing Composers

September 26, 2007 at 8:44 PM


#1 was a true gentleman. He helped his fellow musicians wherever he went. When #2 was a fugitive from justice #1 gave him refuge and helped him flee the country. He probably would have generously helped #5, had not the latter snubbed him. He was father-in-law to #2 and #4.

#5 once worked as a copyist for #2. Later on he published a “Manifesto” in which he blasted both #1 and #2. However he adored #3.

#4, strictly speaking, was not a composer although he was an important musical personage. He insulted everyone around him except for #2 who he revered. He forgave #2 for everything and there was indeed much to forgive.

#6 earned his living mainly as a music critic. His father-in-law founded the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

#3 was universally beloved. His orchestra was the best in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century — until the obnoxious #4 terrorized his own orchestra into playing even better.

#3 traveled to the United States where he conducted the what was then the world’s largest orchestra. His record was finally beaten by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1997.

#1 and #6 were both decisively inspired by #8. #5 also paid musical homage to him.

#7 was one of very few major composers who was neither a conductor nor a virtuoso performer. #1 wrote many transcriptions of his works.

From Mara Gerety
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 2:47 AM
#1 - Liszt (recognized him right off the bat...)
#2 - Wagner
#3 - looks really familiar
#4 - Hanslick? Or maybe Heine?
#5 - Brahms, fairly obvious from the Santa-Claus profile!
#6 - Schumann
#7 - Schubert
#8 - Paganini
From Thomas Vu
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 3:47 AM
How can you recognize those people? I just recognized paganini off the bat =(.
From Mara Gerety
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 4:02 AM
Well, I spend too much time hanging out with Liszt (via biographies, that is), so I'd recognize him anywhere. Brahms is easy because he's the tubby little guy with the huge beard, and Schubert was short, curly-headed with a button nose and glasses. I recognized the description of Wagner and Schumann more than their pictures, and I just took an educated guess on the critic.
From William Yap
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 4:15 AM
I only recognised:

1 - Liszt
5 - Brahms
7 - Schubert
8 - Paganini

From Mischa S.
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 4:18 AM
#4 Hans v. Bülow
#3 Johann Strauss
#6 should be Hector Berlioz, I think

Quizzes are a great idea...!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 5:08 AM
I recognized #8 as Paganini from his silhouette and #2 as a fugitive from justice. Now I'm eager to learn the rest and hear the stories.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 5:19 AM
#4 must be von Bulow because he was not a composer and because he married Cosima Liszt/Wagner.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 7:04 AM
WHy did Brahms blast Laura Nyro and Ricki Lee Jones, but adore Christine Aguilera?
From Roy Sonne
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 1:14 PM
"WHy did Brahms blast Laura Nyro and Ricki Lee Jones, but adore Christine Aguilera?"

He must have left CA out by mistake. Once, leaving a party, he said, "If there is anybody that I have not insulted tonight, I apologize for leaving you out."

From Roy Sonne
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 1:17 PM
I wasn't quite sure about #6 but the hairdo, the nose and the height, all look like Berlioz.
From Ben Clapton
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 2:13 PM
I'm pretty sure #6 is Schumann, not Berlioz, as he is known also as a Music Critic.
From Roy Sonne
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 3:14 PM
Ben, you're absolutely right. Schumann was indeed a music critic. He was also inspired by #8 to arrange some of his caprices for piano. However there is the question of the father-in-law. Berlioz attended the theater and fell madly in love with a young American actress named Harriet Smithson. He pursued her for years until she consented to marry him. She turned out to be a flaming bitch and the marriage only lasted a few years. Meanwhile, Harriet's father, James Smithson was busy founding the Smithsoninan Institution in Washington, DC.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 11:50 PM
Flaming bitch and flaming nutcase, the demise of Hector and Harriet.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 28, 2007 at 1:06 AM
Already, already. When are you going to tell us all the answers?
From Roy Sonne
Posted on September 28, 2007 at 3:08 AM
Allright already. I guess I better give the answers before this blog goes off the radar screen.
1. Liszt
2. Wagner
3. Johann Strauss Jr.
4. Hans von Bulow
5. Brahms
6. Berlioz
7. Schubert
8. Paganini

As I mentioned, I'm not quite sure about #6 but the nose and the hairdo seem to belong to Berlioz.

Wagner took an active part in the revolution of 1848. After the revolution was crushed there was a warrant issued for his arrest. At great personal risk Liszt hid Wagner in his house and arranged transportation out of the country for him.

It was only one example of Liszt's lifelong generosity to his fellow musicians. the only other great composer who showed such nobility in his personal dealings was Verdi.

The pairing of Brahms and Von Bulow is apt, not only because they were both crusty old misanthropes but because they were both ultra-conservative, upholding the tradition of Beethoven.
The progressives, or what became IMHO the true romantic school, started with Berlioz, was carried on by Liszt and Wagner, then on to Mahler and Strauss.
Meanwhile, Johann Strauss, because of his immense popularity was able to afford to hire the first ever full time professional orchestra, which was envied by all the conductors who were (or fancied themselves) on a more elevated artistic realm including Berlioz, Wagner, Liszt, and Von Bulow. However they all adored his music. Even Brahms who once jotted down a fragment of a Johann Strauss waltz and wrote "Not by Johannes Brahms unfortunately."

Von Bulow terrorized his students, his orchestra members and everybody else within reach except for Wagner who he worshipped and served slavishly. Wagner rewarded him by running off with his wife, Cosima, who was the daughter of Liszt.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 28, 2007 at 5:00 AM
Thanks for teaching me so many interesting things. I'm especially impressed that Berlioz's father-in-law started the Smithsonian Institution financially.

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