How the masters handled life as musicians

When you doubt your work as a musician, it is comforting to remember that even the masters had to prove themselves.

Here are some anecdotes taken from "The Book of Musical Anecdotes" by Norman Lebrecht.

 "To the question 'How do you do,' he would often answer, 'As well as a poor musician can do.'

"Beethoven once found Streicher's daughter practising the Variations in C minor of 1806. After he had listened for a while he asked her, 'By whom is that!' 'By you.' 'Such nonsense by me! O Beethoven, what an ass you were!"

 "When La Traviata was a failure at Venice, Varesi, the baritone, and other interpreters of the work, thinking to console  Verdi, paying him their condolences; but he only exclaimed, 'Make them to yourself and your companions, who have not grasped my music.'

 "At a Philharmonic rehearsal... at which one of his Serenades was played, the orchestra grew visibly restless, indicating disapproval of this composition. Brahms stepped to the director's stand and said, 'Gentlemen, I am aware that I am not Beethoven- but I am Johannes Brahms.'

Ethel Smyth praised one of Grieg's works but suggested that the coda of one movement was not of the same quality as the rest. 'Ah yes,' said Grieg, shrugging his shoulders, 'at that point inspiration gave out, and I had to finish without.' 

Picture from http://www.smvblog.com/nonita/?m=201005

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