Today’s generation often writes off classical music as being haughty, pompous, and even boring. While at times that can certainly be true, the genre has definitely had its fair share of weird over the centuries. Here are 25 Bizarre Facts About Classical Music that will shatter your perception of the genre.
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If you think outrageous and obsessive fans are only a product of the 20th and 21st centuries, then you are sorely mistaken. Hungarian composer Franz Liszt had so many fans begging for his hair clippings that he kept a dog whose fur he would shear off and send in place of his own.
The Helicopter Quartet was written in 1993 by controversial composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. It involves sending four members of a string quartet into the sky in four separate helicopters and having each musician play their individual part. Meanwhile, they are recorded and broadcasted into an auditorium where they are all played simultaneously for an audience. Stockhausen reportedly composed the piece after a series of unusual dreams involving helicopters and a swarm of bees.
When John Philip Sousa was young and the American civil war was at its peak, his parents exposed him to a military band. Although it awakened Sousa’s passion for music, his first attempt to learn an instrument failed spectacularly, ending with him swearing off music forever and declaring that he would become a baker. After 3 days apprenticing at a local bakery, however, John Philip decided the trade wasn’t for him and returned to practicing music.
Source: The Life and Times of John Philip Sousa, Image: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Philip_Sousa
Many people have heard of John Cage’s Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds after it gained notoriety for being approximately four minutes and thirty-three seconds of dead silence. A similar composition took it a step further; Yves Klein’s Monotone Silence Symphony consists of twenty straight minutes of a single prolonged note followed by a second twenty minutes of complete silence.
Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky suffered from extreme hypochondria. It was so bad he would always hold his chin with one hand while conducting his orchestra. His reasoning was that if he were to let go his head might fall off. He also refused to drink anything not bottled out of fear of catching a disease. Ironically, in 1893 he was diagnosed with Cholera and died one day later.