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Musical Insults - Page 1 - 2 - 3

I like Wagner's music better than any other music. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says. That is a great advantage.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) on Richard Wagner
I liked the bit about quarter to eleven.
Erik Satie (1866-1925), composer, on 'From Dawn to Noon on the Sea' from La Mer by Claude Debussy
I liked your opera. I think I will set it to music.
Ludwig van Beethoven to a fellow composer
I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window and trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws.
Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) on Richard Wagner
If Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is not by some means abridged, it will soon fall into disuse.
Philip Hale, Boston music critic, in 1837 on Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
If he'd been making shell cases during the war it might have been better for music.
Camille Saint-Saens on Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Is Wagner actually a man? Is he not rather a disease? Everything he touches falls ill: he has made music sick.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) on Richard Wagner
It is gaudy musical harlotry, savage and incoherent bellowings.
Boston Gazette on Franz Liszt
It's bad when they don't perform your operas - but when they do, it's far worse.
Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) on Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), composer
Jazz: Music invented for the torture of imbeciles.
Henry van Dyke (1852-1933)
Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for forty-five minutes.
Aaron Copland on Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Liszt's bombast is bad; it is very bad; in fact there is only one thing worse in his music, and that is his affected and false simplicity. It was said of George Sand that she had a habit of speaking and writing concerning chastity in such terms that the very word became impure; so it is with the simplicity of Liszt.
Philip Hale, Boston music critic, on Franz Liszt
Of all the bete, clumsy, blundering, boggling, baboon-blooded stuff that I ever saw on a human stage, that last night beat - as far as the story and acting went - all the affected, sapless, soulless, beginningless, endless, topless, bottomless, topsiturviest, tuneless, scrabble-pipiest-tongs and boniest-doggerel of sounds I ever endured the deadliness of, that eternity of nothing was deadliest, as far as its sound went.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) on Richard Wagner
Of all the bulls that live, this hath the greatest ass's ears.
Elizabeth I (1533-1603) on John Bull (c.1563-1628), musician
Oh you arch-ass - you double-barrelled ass!
Ludwig van Beethoven on Gottfried Weber, music critic
Perhaps it was because Nero played the fiddle, they burned Rome.
Oliver Herford (1863-1935)
Rachmaninov's immortalising totality was his scowl. He was a six and a half foot scowl.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Russian composer, on Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), Russian composer
She would be like Richard Wagner if only she looked a bit more feminine.
Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969), poet and writer, on Dame Ethel Smyth
Shostakovich is without doubt the foremost composer of pornographic music in the history of art.
W. J. Henderson, music critic, on Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75)
Splitting the convulsively inflated larynx of the Muse, Berg utters tortured mistuned cackling, a pandemonium of chopped-up orchestral sounds, mishandled men's throats, bestial outcries, bellowing, rattling, and all other evil noises... Berg is the poisoner of the well of German music.
German/a on Alban Berg (1885-1935), Austrian composer

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