"He'd be better off shoveling snow."
—Richard Strauss on Arnold Schoenberg
When told that a soloist would need six fingers to perform his concerto, Arnold Schoenberg replied, "I can wait."
"I would like to hear Elliot Carter's Fourth String Quartet, if only to discover what a cranky prostate does to one's polyphony."
"Exit in case of Brahms."
—Philip Hale's proposed inscription over the doors of Boston Symphony Hall
"Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa-Lobos?"
"His music used to be original. Now it's aboriginal."
—Sir Ernest Newman on Igor Stravinsky
"If he'd been making shell-cases during the war it might have been better for music."
—Maurice Ravel on Camille Saint-Saens
"He has an enormously wide repertory. He can conduct anything, provided it's by Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner. He tried Debussy's La Mer once. It came out as Das Merde."
—Anonymous Orchestra Member on George Szell
Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, that "George Szell is his own worst enemy." "Not while I'm alive, he isn't!" said Bing.
"Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands and all you can do is scratch it."
—Sir Thomas Beecham to a lady cellist.
"After I die, I shall return to earth as a gatekeeper of a bordello and I won't let any of you enter."
—Arturo Toscanini to the NBC Orchestra
"We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you could be good enough to keep in touch now and again."
—Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal
"Jack Benny played Mendelssohn last night. Mendelssohn lost."
The great German conductor Hans von Buelow detested two members of an orchestra, who were named Schultz and Schmidt. Upon being told the Schmidt had died, von Buelow immediately asked, "Und Schultz?"
"Her voice sounded like an eagle being goosed."
—Ralph Novak on Yoko Ono
"Parsifal - the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20."
"One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend hearing it a second time."
"I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music."
—Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky's The Rakes's Progress
"Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on."
—Sir Thomas Beecham on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkire