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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: May 17, 2006 Archive


Posted at 8:25 AM on May 17, 2006 by Rex Levang

Next week the Minnesota Orchestra winds things up with performances of Puccini’s “Tosca,” an opera that’s come in for a lot of abuse from a lot of people.

But not from all. Any guesses what composer is being talked about in the following anecdote?

One day he was speaking to me in glowing terms about Puccini. And being the silly, impertinent young man I was, I started to sneer. At that he flew into a towering rage, locked us both into his little studio and sat down at the piano. He then played me the whole of "Tosca" from memory, stopping about fifty times on the way to ask, "Have you anything to complain of about that passage? Look how good the harmony is, how he respects the form, what a clever, original and interesting modulation there is in that tune." Finally he took down the score to show me how perfect the orchestration is. He said, “...This economy of means by which two solo instruments in Puccini’s orchestra produce such an impact – that is the mark of a great artist.”
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