Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdotes about Albert Einstein (5)

MTr. Anecdotes 6 Albert Einstein
Sir William Rothenstein was in Berlin doing a portrait of Einstein. The mathematician was always accompanied to the studio by a solemn, academic looking individual who sat in a corner throughout the sittings. Einstein, not wishing to waste any time, was putting forth certain tentative theories, to which the silent companion replied only by an occasional nod or shake of the head. When the work was concluded, Rothenstein, who was curious, asked Einstein who his companion was.

“That's my mathematician,” said Einstein, “who examines problems which I put before him and checks their validity. You see, I am not myself a good mathematician . . .”

Anecdotes about Mozart (1)

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Mozart as a child

Part of the service used in the Pope's chapel at Rome is sacredly guarded and kept with great care in the archives of the chapel. Any singer found tampering with this “Miserere” of Allegri, or giving a note of it to an outsider, would be visited by excommunication. Only three copies of this service have ever been sent out. One was for the Emperor Leopold, another to the King of Portugal, and the third to the celebrated musician, Padre Martini.

But there was one copy that was made without the Pope's orders, and not by a member of the choir either. When Mozart was taken to Rome in his youth, by his father, he went to the service at St. Peter's and heard the service in all its impressiveness. Mozart, senior, could hardly arouse the lad from his fascination with the music, when the time came to leave the cathedral. That night after they had retired and the father slept, the boy stealthily arose and by the bright light of the Italian moon, wrote out the whole of that sacredly guarded “Miserere” The Pope's locks, bars, and excommunications gave no safety against a memory like Mozart's.

Anecdotes about Mozart (2)

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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.

Anecdotes about Mozart (3)

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The bodily frame of Mozart was tender and exquisitely sensible; ill health soon overtook him, and brought with it a melancholy approaching to despondency. A very short time before his death, which took place when he was only thirty-six, he composed that celebrated requiem, which, by an extraordinary presentiment of his approaching dissolution, he considered as written for his own funeral.

Read more: Anecdotes about Mozart (3)

Anecdotes about Mozart (4)

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Mozart and Haydn

Besides having a very cool name, Mozart was one of the most influential and enduring classical composer who lived a short life and died at the age of 35. He composed over 600 compositions in this time.

One day, Mozart taunted Haydn that the latter would never be able to play a piece which Mozart had just written. Haydn sat at the harpsichord, began to play from the manuscript, and then stopped abruptly. There was a note in the center of the keyboard while the right hand was playing in high treble and the left hand in low bass.

“Nobody can play this with only two hands,” Haydn exclaimed.

“I can,” Mozart said quietly. When he reached the debated portion of his composition, he bent over and struck the central note with his nose.

Anecdotes about Mozart (5)

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Mozart and Beethoven

Beethoven arrived in Vienna in the spring of 1787 as a youth of great promise and was taken to play before Mozart. Assuming that his music was a showpiece specially prepared for the occasion, Mozart responded coolly. Beethoven begged him to state a theme on which he could improvise and began playing as if inspired by the Master’s presence, Mozart became engrossed. Finally he rejoined his friends in the next room and pronounced emphatically, “Keep your eyes on that young man. Some day he will give the world something to talk about.”

Anecdotes about Writers (3)

MTr3MarkTwainsmaller
Mark Twain

Mark Twain did much of his writing in bed, irrespective of the time. One day, his wife entered the bedroom to inform him that a reporter had arrived to conduct an interview.

When Twain made no effort to get out of bed, she intervened: “Don’t you think it will be a little embarrassing,” she rhetorically remarked, “for him to find you in bed?” “Why, if you think so, Livy,” Twain rhetorically replied, “we could have the other bed made up for him.

Anecdotes about Writers (4)

MTr4OscarWilde
Oscar Wilde

Once while on a lecture tour to the U.S., Oscar Wilde was asked by a customs officer in New York whether he had anything to declare. “No, I have nothing to declare,” Wilde replied, “except my genius.”

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