You can’t do it in 5 minutes: 25 crackpot facts about classical music

You can’t do it in 5 minutes: 25 crackpot facts about classical music


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2016

A bluffer’s guide from Youtube’s List 25.

‘Tchaikovsky had to hold his chin while conducting for fear his head might fall off….’ oh, yeah?

And ‘Mahler spent three whole years in a secluded cottage …’

putin tchaikovsky competition2


  • John Borstlap says:

    The story of Tchaikovsky’s head refers to his own report of a conducting adventure, in one of his letters. It seems to only have happened once.

  • phf655 says:

    And, of course, the statement that Mahler spent three years in a secluded cottage, if taken literally, is wrong. In the summer he composed in secluded cottages, then returned to a larger adjoining house, where he lived, and he didn’t live alone.

  • pooroperaman says:

    I think quite a number of musicians have spent long periods in secluded cottages, if the rumours are to be believed.

  • Mikey says:

    Whoa nelly!

    The Rossini cats’ duet most definitely does NOT “mostly leave the melody to the singers’ discretion”!!!

    I wonder if it counts that Wittgenstein wasn’t that good a pianist, and that he didn’t actually perform most of the works he “commissioned” or performed them so poorly the composers complained?

    And again with the myths about “Le Sacre du printemps”… the DANCE was attacked, the “riot” was at the ballet premiere.
    The first concert performance of Sacre, barely 2 months later, was a HUGE success. So it wasn’t the music that got savaged, it was the ballet itself.

    Otherwise, you gotta get a chuckle or two out of the narrator’s dreadful pronunciation of the various composers’ names!