Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fun Music Facts Series Vol. 2

Here's some classical conversational bits to impress people with at your next dinner party, assuming your guests know of these composers....if not they will assume the composers are quite exotic sounding, and you must be talking about independent foreign films....sure, sure!  

#1.  Frederic Chopin's longtime girlfriend in Paris was novelist George Sand (her real name was Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin).  She would often wear men's clothes in public and smoke cigars (Franz Liszt's mistress, Marie d'Agoult, also smoked cigars in public).  After Chopin and Sand split up (allegedly caused by Chopin remaining cordial to Sand's daughter Solange, after Sand had a falling out with her daughter over [what else?] money), Chopin was never invited back to Sand's estate (Nohant) and Sand did not attend Chopin's funeral.

#2.  The premiere of Rossini's The Barber of Seville was a disaster.  The audience hated it; one of the singers stumbled over something onstage and had no choice but to sing with a bloody nose and a ruined costume, and a cat meandered onstage and preoccupied the audience by darting across the stage several times and finally hiding in the skirt of the female lead.  The second performance however went splendidly.

 photo credit:  Ken Howard (2006)

#3.  Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff was considered one of the greatest pianists of his time and had a large hand span, easily stretching to one and a half octaves.

#4.  It is suspected that Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann were possibly lovers, though definitely life-long friends.  Clara was reportedly the first pianist to give public performances of some of Brahms' works. 

#5. Clara Schumann hated Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner; however Franz Liszt was the only other noted music figure besides Clara to play Robert Schumann's music publicly at that time (while Robert Schumann was institutionalized.)  

Stay tuned for Vol. 3!


  1. Ooh fab facts - now to remember them!! x


  2. Hello:
    Some very goodly pieces of information to store away and come out with, casually, at some future time although we shall avoid any reference to Liszt who is considered a National icon and has, most recently, had the airport renamed after him.

    Rachmaninoff remains one of the greatest pianists and composers for us!!

  3. Great facts, I'm going to keep them up my sleeve for the weekend, we're at a Wagner recital on Friday and the opera on Saturday!

  4. This is so cool! I love historical facts, I would love to have a dinner party to share my new knowledge :)

  5. F & F - Thanks for commenting! Of course the more egregious facts are easier to remember! he he

    Hattatts - Isn't that interesting about the airport renamed in Liszt's honour! I learn something from you two almost every day! :) I adore Rachmaninoff, his piano concertos are dramatic and wonderful. Liszt is great too.

    Tabitha - Oh I wish we had more opportunities to attend more concerts and recitals where I live...we have some events but not to the extent of bigger cities which have more people interested in the arts. Jealous!

    Savannah - I love historical facts too. I did learn some music history back when I was taking piano lessons in my teens but somehow history is more interesting to me now! Also my husband LOVES anything history so I've learned quite a bit from him!