Secret Lives of Great Composers: What Your Teachers Never Told You about the World's Musical Masters

By Elizabeth Lunday

Real stories of homicide, riots, heartbreak, and nice music.
With outrageous anecdotes approximately each person from Gioachino Rossini (draft-dodging womanizer) to Johann Sebastian Bach (jailbird) to Richard Wagner (alleged cross-dresser), mystery Lives of serious Composers recounts the seamy, steamy, and gritty historical past in the back of the good masters of foreign track. You’ll examine that Edward Elgar dabbled with explosives; that John Cage was once keen about fungus; that Berlioz plotted homicide; and that Giacomo Puccini stole his church’s organ pipes and offered them as scrap steel so he may perhaps purchase cigarettes. this is often one track heritage lesson you’ll always remember!

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However, the last decade used to be wretched: the trendy international terrified the composer. A railway trip left him in a nation of cave in. Upstart composers like Wagner bewildered him. The political upheavals sweeping France and Italy mystified him. As one Italian urban after one other rebelled opposed to Austrian rule, Rossini and Olympe wandered the rustic looking for a quiet retreat. Rossini suffered from a bewildering array of actual lawsuits: lethargy, complications, diarrhea, persistent irritation of the urethra, and hemorrhoids. He may well infrequently be dragged from mattress, but he complained of incessant insomnia. much more debilitating was once the melancholy that ate up him. He performed the piano now and again and continuously in a darkened room so nobody might see him crying over the keys. one among ROSSINI’S OPERAS used to be SABOTAGED by way of AN viewers OF JEERING FANS—THE CROWD EVEN RESORTED TO SNEAKING A CAT ONSTAGE. Better—and Worse At Olympe’s insistence, Rossini lower back to Paris in 1855, the place he started to emerge from his melancholy. He begun receiving visitors, exploring the town, or even composing. He by no means back tried the intense track he had as soon as longed to put in writing, nor the witty operas that had made him recognized, as a substitute composing brief, smart piano items he known as Péchés de vieillesse (“Sins of My previous Age”). One piece titled The 4 Hors D’oeuvres beneficial properties routine named “Radishes,” “Anchovies,” “Gherkins,” and “Butter”—combining Rossini’s tune together with his newfound ardour for connoisseur eating. via the past due 1860s, even if, the composer used to be bodily in poor health. He built melanoma of the rectum, the remedy of which triggered extra soreness than the sickness. At one element he begged his healthcare professional to throw him out the window so he wouldn’t undergo anymore. On Friday, November thirteen, 1868, he died together with his spouse via his facet. A DRAFT-DODGING WOMANIZER Rossini had a succession of affairs with opera singers, one in all which introduced unforeseen merits. The mezzo-soprano Maria Marcolini used to be the previous mistress of Napoleon’s brother Lucien Bonaparte. So whilst Napoleon mandated obligatory enlistment within the French military, Marcolini was once capable of pull strings to realize Rossini an exemption. This well timed intervention spared the composer from becoming a member of the 90,000 Italian conscripts to the Grande Armée, such a lot of whom died throughout the emperor’s ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812. A STAND-UP type of man the tale is going workforce of Rossini’s pals desired to erect a statue in his honor. once they approached him with the belief, the composer requested how a lot any such statue might fee. “About twenty-thousand liras,” they answered. Rossini notion for a second after which stated, “Why don’t you provide me 10000 liras and I’ll stand at the pedestal myself? ” SETTLING A rating WITH WAGNER In 1860, the guiding mild of the recent German opera, Richard Wagner, paid a decision to Rossini, the light superstar of the outdated Italian opera. the 2 had a gracious dialog, yet Rossini proposal Wagner’s song self-indulgent and overbearing. a pal stated that he had as soon as obvious the ranking to Wagner’s Tannhäuser the wrong way up at Rossini’s piano.

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