Best musical compliment: You are a brilliant penis

Best musical compliment: You are a brilliant penis


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2018

The pianist who received this text assumes it was auto-corrected.

We prefer to think not.

Any other entries for best musical compliment?


  • Bruce says:

    Only the usual “Bruce! You sounded great last night! What are you doing differently?” variety. Nothing involving penises.

  • Rodney Friend says:

    Peter Pears on his very reluctant singing of some Webern songs which he found extremely hard re: pitching, even admitting that he’d sung many wrong notes.

    “…the avant garde boys came with tears in their eyes saying ‘We’ve never heard this Webern sung like this ‘ and indeed they probably haven’t ” (LOL)

    “….but they think it’s absolutely marvellous, and if they don’t know the difference between right and wrong, well, who does?”

    • John Borstlap says:

      In middle and late Webern there cannot be any distinction between right and wrong notes,because there, ‘rightness’ resides in abstracto.

  • steven holloway says:

    “I liked what you were trying to do.”

    “You’ve been practicing again, you little devil!!”

    • SDG says:

      “practising” …. sorry!

      • Bruce says:

        Depends on what country you’re practicing (or practising) in.

        I had a Canadian classmate in college who would get marked down for spelling errors such as “colour” and “flavour.” She refused to “correct” these “mistakes,” rightly opining instead that the professor was an idiot.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I got reactions varying from handkissing and tears, to ‘outdated’, ‘slimy’,’terrible’ and a couple of terms which would be too offensive to relate even on SD. But the stronger reactions are, the better. Nothing is so deadening as conventional, bland, routine reflexes.

    • The Voice from America says:

      Yes, describing a performance as “sympathetic” is typically a euphemism for “forgettable” …

  • David R Osborne says:

    “Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to…”
    I think I’ll just stop now.

    • Furzwängler says:

      That was Beecham, wasn’t it? And the ‘instrument’ was her cello, as I recall.

      Do you know the other immortal bon mot by Beecham? Apparently he loathed the harpsichord, and once commented that it sounded like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated iron roof.

      ok ok, that’s enough now…

  • David Leibowitz says:

    “Wow! You did it again!!!”

  • boringfileclerk says:

    Difficulty: The text was not sent by James Levine….

  • Paul Davis says:

    One ass umes he was referring to the subject penis-tickly….or was it for a paraphrase on Le Coq d’Or, (Rimsky-Korsetsoff)…?

  • The Voice from America says:

    I wonder if the performance in question was of music by Handel? Because evidently, he handled his instrument well.

  • Neil Thompson Shade says:

    The late counter tenor Alfred Deller was asked after a recital by a lady from Europe with a heavy accent, ‘Are you eunuch?’ To which Mr Deller replied, ‘I can assure madam I am unique.”

  • Sharon says:

    And socially conservative religions which forbid young people to listen to rock ‘n roll or jazz music permit classical music because they believe that it is “wholesome”? Little do they know…

  • Ghost of D Clisby says:

    From a dancer to an orchestra player following a ballet performance in the round in the RAH with amplification “The orchestra sounds great. It sounds just like a CD.”

  • Alex Davies says:

    Perhaps not autocorrected, but, rather, the result of using voice recognition to compose the text. And that reminds me that the British tend to stress the first syllable, whereas I believe many Americans stress the “an”. Is that because they want to avoid it sounding like the other word or because they are reflecting the pronunciation of the instrument a pianist plays?

    • Bruce says:

      Speaking of alternate pronunciations:

      I was part of a chamber concert once where the musician speaking before the next piece noted the circus-like aspects of the piece he was about to play, and said what sounded like: “So — grab your penis and popcorn, and sit back and enjoy!” I told him afterward, and the next night he made sure to say “pea NUTS and popcorn.”


  • Ferruccio says:

    From a Japanese lady to Rudolf Serkin, after a concert in Tokyo: “the audience is tluly enthusiastic, the mole you pray, the mole they crap”.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    “You’ve never done better.”

    “Oh, you! You’ve done it again.”

    (Tip of the hat to Sir John Gielgud).

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Spill, Norman, which pianist has the brilliant penis?

  • BA says:

    I assure you that when I survey their vast and awesome repertoire I am struck with a severe case of pianist envy….

  • M2N2K says:

    A prominent conductor (if i am not mistaken, it was Simon Rattle) once told us a story about an adoring old lady who after one of his concerts in Germany complimented him by saying that he made the orchestra sound so wonderful that she “could hear every single violinist separately”.