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HERE ARE MORE SELECTIONS from Frank Muir’s collection of cited witticisms in his book An Irreverent and Thoroughly Incomplete Social History of Almost Everything. Part 2 offers a poem, a barkeeper’s opinion, a royal pronouncement, a newspaper review, and the views of two composers.

Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton): “She sat with her guitar on her knee,/ But she was not singing a note,/ For someone had drawn (ah, who could it be?)/ A knife across her throat.”

Edward Robert Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, PC, 1831–1891, English poet with pseudonym Owen Meredith, statesman, Conservative politician, Viceroy of India 1876–1880, Ambassador to France 1887–1891. Portrait by Nadar, c. 1900

Ed Gardner: “Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding he sings.”

Ed Gardner, born Edward Poggenberg, 1901–1963, American actor aka Archie, the wisecracking malaprop-prone barkeeper of radio’s Duffy’s Tavern. 

Frederick the Great: “A German singer! I should as soon expect to get pleasure from the neighing of my horse.”

Frederick II, 1712–1786, King in/of Prussia 1740–1786. His Majesty was interested in music and philosophy, a supporter of enlightened absolutism. Fotograf: Pfauder, Wolfgang; Aufnahmedatum: 2012.

Muir notes that the Italian language, having no awkward diphthongs and virtually no final consonants, was peculiarly suitable for singing.

Edward Moore, Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1921: “The music of The Love for Three Oranges, I fear, is too much for this generation.. Mr. Prokofiev might well have loaded up a shotgun with several thousand notes of various lengths and discharged them against the side of a blank wall.”

Edward Colman Moore, 1877–1935, was an American writer, journalist, music critic, and composer. He believed that music should be treated as entertainment and not necessarily as intellectual uplift. He died of a heart attack on his way to a concert.

Arthur Honegger: “The public doesn’t want new music; the main thing it demands of a composer is that he be dead.” 

Arthur Honegger, 1892–1955, Swiss composer, member of Les Six. Portrait from

Gioachino Antonio Rossini: “How wonderful opera would be if there were no singers.”

Gioachino Antonio Rossini, 1792–1868, Italian composer of 39 operas, as well as songs, chamber music, piano pieces, and sacred music. He retired while still in his thirties at the height of his popularity. Portrait by Nadar. 

 “Wagner has beautiful moments but awful quarter hours.”

“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.” 

Initially, I mistyped it as Lohengrim. Freudian? Thanks, Frank Muir, for your collection. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

2 comments on “MUIR’S MUSIC MUSINGS PART 2

  1. Phil Pilcher
    June 23, 2022

    As noted by Slonimsky in his “Lexicon of Musical Invective,” one listener wrote: After “Lohengrin,” I had a splitting headache, and all through the night I dreamed about a goose.”

  2. Andrew G.
    June 23, 2022

    The quote from the Italian maestro explains why my lone Rossini album is just his overtures. But holy cow, do I love it.

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