What are the most trivial facts about classical composers?

And Rachel is not the only one with an aversion to cheating.

ethics shmethics

Nitpick: “Gregorian chant clefs indicate where do and fa are. Chant had no inherent key.”

You are correct. In the earliest days of chant, there was no inherrant key. Eventually (not too long in the days of early music), a fixed key was made using bells as a tuning device. About that time A was set at 330-336 rather than the 440 that we hear today. Playing something in the original tuning (330-336) is the surest way to drive someone who has perfect pitch crazy. :slight_smile: Depending on the group, I would tune my lute to A336 and it would drive them all crazy. It is also the easiest way to get them to sing out of tune since most of the people I know with perfect pitch are extremely anal about the tuning.


Hayden was without his head for an extended amount of time (100 years or more?). Of course, this happened after he died and somebody swiped his cranium to examine the bumps on his skull.

Haydn. It’s HAYDN.

Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920), the American Debussy, found the uniformed cops of the NYPD to be a sexual turn-on.

Anton Webern (1883-1945), of the Second Viennese School, was shot to death by a member of the U.S. Army occupation forces when he slipped out of his apartment after dark to smoke a cigar. He hadn’t wanted to inconvenience his wife and children.

Alban Berg, also of the Second Viennese School, died of a bee sting.

It has long been speculated that Tchiakovsky was not only gay, but in love with his nephew. He once tried to kill himself by immersing himself in a river to either drown or die from exposure.

Beethoven’s reported death was glorious. He had been ill for several days and was restless on his deathbed. He finally drift off to sleep during a terrible storm. In the middle of the night, a clap of thunder split the night - Beethoven (who was deaf at this point) sat bolt upright in bed, shook his fist at the heavens, and fell back dead. (This account is from the book “How Did They Die?”)

Esprix, who just can’t get a handle on Water Music

Actually Tchaikovsky was in love with a nobleman’s nephew. It caused a big scandal when it was made public. The common theory at the time was that he had the choice of being exiled in Siberia or killing himself. He chose the latter. The official cause of death in the Russian History was something along the lines of cholera (or some other highly contagious deadly gastric virus).

I believe it was cholera. When he died, thousands of people flocked to his coffin and would kiss him on his lips. They knew enough about the spread of disease then to know that they would “get cholera” if they did that. It seems that most of the Russian people knew that was a scam at that time too.


While that story about Tchaikovsky committing suicide has been reported in some biographies, the evidence to back it up is very flimsy.

Tchakovsky had fallen for various men in lifetime, but there’s no evidence that the nobel’s son was one of them. The only support for the suicide theory was a comment made many years later by someone who wasn’t really in a position to know the details.

There are some reasons to question the death by cholera explanation – witnesses disagreed as to when and where he drank the water (which some have thought meant he did it several times for show), the epidemic was nearly over when T got sick, he drank it in a very showy way, his doctor had never treated a cholera case and certain poisons had similar symptoms. However, there’s nothing to support the suicide theory other than speculation.

Read, I said “the common theory”… not that it was completely true. It may be, it may not be. The cholera is most likely a lie (they wouldn’t have had an open casket at the time if it was in addition to the other parts), the nephew story would work. Supposedly the nephew was a piano pupil of his. It is speculation but makes sense. My ex used to have a biography of Tchaikovsky that was 60% of his letters and letters from his friends. I don’t remember the name of it off hand. The book contained mostly letters (ie filled up more than half the book). It wasn’t 60% of all the letters he ever wrote. Anyway, the homosexuality was completely confirmed in those letters. He talked of men that he met in the park and a lover. Their letters were quite intimate. :slight_smile:

Anyway, more Tchaikovsky facts. He was a government beaurocrat until a wealthy benefactor started paying him. They had a deal that he would never speak to her. Strange. The Nutcracker Suite which we all know was his least favourite piece of music. He really hated being known for writing children’s pieces.


My understanding has always been that he stripped and waded out into the river, but someone found him and got him out, but although he got very ill from this, he didn’t die (although he was never quite well after that), and died some years later of unrelated illnesses.

I’ll have to do some digging.