Delle Citazioni dei Compositori alla Pellicola “Mean Girls”, op. 10 nos. 1-16

This is an extra-credit post, so anything goes. Therefore, I have hereby decided to produce something from one of my favorite hobbies – collecting snarky insults spoken by composers of composers. What follows are my favorites I have found.

Several notes:

  • I don’t necessarily agree with the insults enclosed. I just enjoy reading about composers throwing shade, and wanted to share that enjoyment with you. Please don’t complain in the comments.
  • The name of the insulter is a source for his (or Clara Schumann’s) quote. The other links can be musical examples, fun biographical facts, or (in one case) 45 minutes of cow footage. There will be a quiz later, so watch each video in its entirety.
  • The name of this post is my bad Italian for “Some Composers’ Quotes In the Manner of the Film “Mean Girls,” 10th Blog Post, Quotes 1-16.” If the Italian is bad, remember that the history of music is written in Italian by non-Italian speakers.
  • Yes, the only woman in the entire post is Clara Schumann. What can I say? Western musical history is full of Germans, and Germans sure love their Würste.

“He knows no more counterpoint than my cook!”

Baroque composer George Friedrich Handel, on creator of the modern operatic form Christoph Willibald Gluck

“A great tub of pork and beer.”
Romantic composer Hector Berlioz on George Friedrich Handel, famously caricatured here

“What an ungifted swine! It angers me that this conceited mediocrity is regarded as a genius… Brahms is just some chaotic and utterly empty wasteland.”

Russian Romantic composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky on the intellectual Johannes Brahms

“Rossini would have been a great composer if his teacher had spanked him enough on the backside.”

Master of the late Classical era Ludwig van Beethoven on opera buffa composer Gioachino Rossini

“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing… and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.”

Great operatic composer Gioachino Rossini, on notorious narcissist with a composition habit Richard Wagner

“A man devoid of all talent.”

-Member of the famed Russian Five César Cui on deeply disturbed anti-Semite and all-around impossible human being Richard Wagner

“He does not know how to write four consecutive bars which are beautiful or even correct.”

Clara Schumann, on, Richard Wagner, who was such a jerk

“He gives me the impression of being a spoilt child… particularly in his compositions which I cannot qualify in any other term than ‘awful.’”
Clara Schumann, on subject of the most embarrassing historical film of all time Franz Liszt

“Listening to the fifth symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for 45 minutes.”

Americana composer Aaron Copland on (believe it or not) the fifth symphony of Ralph Vaugh Williams

“A very tolerable imitation of a composer.”
English composer Ralph Vaugh Williams on late Romantic composer Mahler (whose buddies, as Tom Lehrer teaches, all knew him as Gustav)

“If he had been making shell cases during the war, it might have been better for music.”

Romantic composer and bitter misanthrope Camille Saent-Saëns on French Impressionist Maurice Ravel

“He’d be better off shoveling snow than scribbling on manuscript paper.”

Early modernist composer and 2001: A Space Odyssey score writer Richard Strauss on twelve-tone pioneer Arnold Schoenberg

“The expressions he uses are as banal as a cheap song.”

Twelve-tone pioneer Arnold Schoenberg on early modernist composer and 2001: A Space Odyssey score writer Richard Strauss

“I play through all his music every so often to see if I am right about him. I usually find I underestimated last time how bad he was.”

English composer Benjamin Britten on listening to Johannes Brahms again.

“I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music.”

English composer Benjamin Britten on Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress

“Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don’t like, it’s always by Villa-Lobos?”

Polytonal composer Igor Stravinsky on Brazilian art composer Heitor Villa-Lobos

There wasn’t actually a quiz. Hope you enjoyed 45 minutes of cow footage. Thank you!