Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdote Abraham Lincoln – The sixteenth President of the United Sates. (1809 – 1865)

In 1846, Lincoln ran for Congress as a Whig against an evangelical Methodist named Peter Cartwright.
One day during the campaign, Lincoln attended a religious meeting at which Cartwright, after a stirring welcome, invited everyone who wished to go to heaven to rise. Several congregants complied.
“Now,” Cartwright continued, “those who do not wish to go to hell will stand!” With these words, everyone else rose up, with a single notable exception.
“May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln,” Cartwright asked, “where you are going?” Lincoln rose. “I came here as a respectful listener,” he calmly replied. “I did not know I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress!”


Anecdote Ludwig van Beethoven – German composer and pianist. (1770 – 1827)

Beethoven once dismissed a housekeeper for telling a lie. Nanette Streicher, who had procured the housekeeper on his behalf, pleaded the woman's case, pointing out that she had only lied because she thought it would benefit him. Beethoven was not so easily persuaded: "Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart," he declared, "and cannot make pure soup!"

Anecdote Cole Porter – American composer and songwriter. (1891 – 1964)

"Within a few years after his marriage, Cole Porter had written, and had courteously tossed off at one party or another, such songs as 'Two Little Babes in the Wood,' 'Let's Do It,' and 'What Is This Thing Called Love?' He turned a bland eye upon his excited friends when they insisted that these songs should be published. He had plenty of money [much of it inherited] and a vast indifference toward making any more. To one enthusiastic pep-talker, he solemnly explained his fear of commercial success. 'Suppose I had to settle down on Broadway for three months just when I was planning to go to Antibes,' he said."

Anecdote Gustav Mahler – Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading and most influential conductors of his generation. (1860 – 1911)

One day Gustav Mahler and his sister Justi visited a two-story cafe in Budapest's City Park. Mahler, who was in the habit of wiping utensils and rinsing glasses before using them, filled his glass with water and absent-mindedly emptied it over his shoulder, eliciting a cry of alarm from a group of ladies on the terrace below. "So sorry," Mahler gasped, realizing his mistake. As director of the Opera, Mahler was much-loved and his absent-mindedness quickly forgiven. Indeed when, minutes later, he repeated the incident with Justi's glass, the entire restaurant just burst out laughing.

Anecdote Paul McCartney – English musician, songwriter and composer. (born in 1942)

In 2004, Sir Paul McCartney, a vegan and outspoken animal rights activist, confessed that his production of a series of animated films (including Tropic Island Hum, Tuesday, and Rupert and the Frog Song) was motivated in part by childhood guilt. "When I was a kid and I remember thinking as I would have to go into the Army," he explained, "cruelty to frogs seemed justified as a practice for the Army.

"Obviously, now this is something I regret and who knows, I may be trying to make it up to the little dears by putting them in every single one of these films. 

Anecdote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Austrian prolific and influential composer. (1756 – 1791)

Mozart was once approached by a young man who was interested in Mozart's advice on how to compose a symphony. Since he was still very young, Mozart recommended that he start by composing ballads. Surprised, the young man responded, "But you wrote symphonies when you were only ten years old." "But I didn't have to ask how," countered Mozart.

Anecdote Yoko Ono – Japanese artist, author and peace activist, known for her marriage to John Lennon. (born in 1933)

Joan Rivers (American TV personality) was no great fan of Yoko Ono. "Her voice," Rivers once remarked, "sounded like an eagle being goosed."

Anecdote Pola Negri – Polish stage and film actress who became a great American silent movie star. (1897 – 1987)

Pola Negri was not noted for her modesty. While lying on her deathbed in 1987, she was attended to by a handsome young doctor who looked at her chart and failed to react upon seeing her name. Pola reputedly pulled herself up into a "movie star" pose and asked: "You don't know who I am!?"

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