How the great composers scolded by contemporaries

“Nonsense”, “the loving animal”, “ugly”, “base some text”, “mould”, “guano music”, “music for cats” and other epithets, which critics and contemporaries was accompanied by the premieres of now-classic works of Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and other famous composers.

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“Piano Concerto of béla bartók is the most monstrous stream of nonsense, bombast, and nonsense ever heard our audience”.

“Allegro reminded me of childhood — the creak of the good shaft, the distant clatter of a freight train, then a rumbling of the stomach of a monkey eating fruit in the neighbor’s garden, and finally, the alarmed clucking of the hen, scared to death by scattergram. Second, the short part along its entire length was filled with the buzz of the November wind in Telegraph wires. The third part began with a dog howling in the night, followed by the squelch of a cheap water closet, moved in harmonious snoring of the soldiers ‘ barracks shortly before dawn and ended with the violin imitating the creaking of the ungreased wheels of the cart. The fourth part reminded me of the sounds I was making from boredom at the age of six years, stretching and releasing the rubber piece. And finally, the fifth part unmistakably reminded me of the noise of the village of Zulu, which I’ve seen at the International exhibition in Glasgow. I never thought that I will be able to hear it again — back plan is it still mingled with the shrill whine of Scottish bagpipes. These sounds and ended the Fourth Quartet of Bela Bartok”.


“Brahms is the most wanton of composers. However, it is not malicious. Rather, it’s like a big kid with a tedious tendency to change into Handel or Beethoven and for a long time to publish the unbearable noise.”

“In the Symphony in C minor Brahms every note seemed to be sucking the blood of the listener. Will this music ever popular? At least, here and now, in Boston, it is not in demand — the audience was listening to Brahms in silence, and this was the silence caused by confusion, not awe”.

“In the evening’s program were the Symphony in C minor, Brahms. I carefully studied the score and admit its resolute inability to understand this work and why do it at all was written. This music recalls the visit to the sawmill in the mountains.”

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“Opinions were divided about the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven, but almost all agreed that it is too snug. One andante lasts a good fifteen minutes and, because it consists of a series of repetitions, can easily be shortened without any damage to the composer or his listeners.”

“Beethoven’s compositions become more and more eccentric. He rarely writes now, but what comes out of his pen, so obscure and vague, full of obscure and often simply repulsive harmonies that only baffled critics and perplexed artists”.

“In the Eroica Symphony there is something to admire, but difficult to maintain admiration for three long quarters of an hour. It is infinitely long… If this Symphony does not reduce, it certainly will be forgotten”.

“Chorus, which concludes the Ninth Symphony, sometimes very spectacular, but it so much, and so many sudden pauses and strange, almost ridiculous passages, trumpet and bassoon, so much rambling, loud parties string, used without meaning, — and, to top it off, the deafening, frantic fun of the finale, in which, in addition to the usual triangles, drums, pipes used everything known to mankind… percussion instruments From these sounds that the earth shook under our feet, and from the graves rose the shadow of the venerable Tallis, Gibbons, and Purcell, and even Handel with Mozart to see and to mourn the violent, uncontrollable noise, then rage and madness, which has become their art.”

“For me, Beethoven has always sounded as if someone poured the nails out of the bag and in addition dropped the hammer.”

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