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  • Writer's pictureM Osborne

What they said… taken from our June 2021 edition of Tutti

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

No, not what the Birmingham Post said about Harborne Orchestra’s last concert pre-COVID, but how composers critiqued their fellow composer’s work. Some of these attributed quotes are quite terse, but make for interesting reading!

Are you familiar with more that you would add to this list?

"What a good thing this isn't music."

Rossini on Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

"I like your opera - I think I will set it to music."

Beethoven’s target is unknown and although he is widely quoted as having said this there is no evidence. Pity. If he didn’t say it, he should have done – it sounds like him and it’s too good to waste.

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

Britten on Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress

“The audience expected the ocean. Something big, something colossal, but they were served instead with some agitated water in a saucer."

Louis Schneider on La Mer

“He tried Debussy's La Mer once. It came out as Das Merde."

Anonymous orchestra member on George Szell

“The better the orchestra, often the harder it is to conduct, not the other way round.” Simon Rattle. (Sorry we give you such a hard time John!)

Many of Sir Thomas Beecham’s oft-quoted sayings are, besides being funny, waspish and vitriolic. However, after the untimely death of the brilliant horn player, Dennis Brain, Beecham said “We all felt that he came to earth just to show us that it could be done – and then he was spirited away.”

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