Sir Thomas Sez...
11 Thomas Beecham Quotes:
11. A musicologist is a man who can
read music but can't hear it.
10. Brass bands are all very well in their
place - outdoors and several miles away.
should write tunes that chauffeurs and errand boys can whistle.
8. I have just been all
round the world and have formed a very poor opinion of it.
7. What can
you do with it? It's like a lot of yaks jumping about."
--Sir Thomas on Beethoven's Seventh Symphony
first movement alone, I took note of six pregnancies and at least four
--Sir Thomas on Bruckner
reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on."
-- Sir Thomas on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkyre
The sound of a harpsichord is… like two
skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof.
once except folk dancing and incest.
2. "Have you
heard any Stockhausen?" Beecham was asked. "No, but I believe I have
stepped in some.""
you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to
thousands and all you can do is scratch it."
--Sir Thomas to a lady cellist.
Two longer bits:
"A soprano in Massenet's Don
Quixote complained that she had missed her entry in the aria, "because
Mr. Challiapin always dies too soon." "Madam, you must be profoundly in
error," said Sir Thomas, "No operatic star has yet died half soon enough
"'My father,' Beecham
confided, 'came to me one Christmas and said, "Look, here, my lad, I've
been spendin' a lot o' brass on your musical education, and now Ah wants
you to help me." (Every year Beecham's Pills produced a Christmas Carol
Annual). "Now Tom," continued my father, "I want you to go through the
Annual and alter some of th' verses so as to promote th' business."'
Thomas retired to his study and came up with the following: Hark! the
herald angels sing! Beecham's Pills are just the thing, Two for a woman
one for a child. . . . Peace on Earth and mercy mild! 'These
sentiments,' Beecham related, 'especially the ellipsis, seem to me
admirably to express the rapture which is occasioned by a good
Sir Thomas Beecham, 1879–1961,
was educated at Oxford but did not attend any formal music school. Early
in his career as a conductor and producer, he introduced his fellow
countrymen to the operas of Richard Strauss, many Russian operas, and
the Russian ballet. In 1932 he organized the London Philharmonic
Orchestra, forging it into one of the world's finest orchestras, and in
1932 he became artistic director of Covent Garden Opera, London. In 1946
he organized the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London.
Beecham wrote a
biography of Delius, whose music he championed; he also excelled at
interpreting Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Berlioz, and Sibelius. He was known
for his exquisite phrasing, his ability to masterfully unfold a melodic
line, his fine sense of proportion, his combination of power and
delicacy, and his insight into the unique styles of various composers.
For his services to British music, Beecham was knighted in 1916; he also
had enormous international influence.