A Night at the Opera

An unresolved need for communication with God was central to Shoenberg’s personality.
Balfe was the only nineteenth-century English-speaking composer to thrive overseas.
However, Weber’s success made him careless.
Friedrich Nietzsche said he liked Leo Delibes because he had “no pretensions to depth.”
For years Francis Poulenc was pigeonholed as the playboy of French music.
“I increasingly work with theatre and dance companies. who seem to have much more use for the living composer than opera houses do.”
Basically Zemlinsky’s music fell between two stools, being too advanced for his conservative contemporaries, but not interesting enough for the radicals.
Few verismo operas lasted more than an hour.
Verdi’s mother hid with Guiseppe in the belltower and escaped unharmed.
With Mozart dead and Paisiello retired, Cimarosa revelled in his pre-eminence.
Britten was an emphatically tonal composer and a committed melodist — although he was fearful of “sounding like Puccini,” whose music he loathed.
Bartok wrote just one opera.
But in 1933, without consulting him, the Nazis appointed Strauss president of the Riechsmusikammer.
By any standards Camille Saint-Saens was a freakishly gifted child.
A year later he was arrested by the Gestapo for helping friends and colleagues escape from Germany but his influential contacts secured his release soon after.
By now, he was wealthy enough to indulge his tastes for sports cars and expensive property and to devote as much time to shooting and fishing as he wanted.
By most accounts, the man who did all this was a monster.
He was placed under house arrest in 1941, transported to the Wulzburg camp at the end of the year, and died eight months later.
“Directness of this kind is given only to great men, and there is no doubt that he was a great composer.”

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