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Fun facts about our favourite composers

31 July 2018

We at WNO have been delving into the lives of some of the most well-known composers and have compiled some interesting, weird and wonderful facts around their lives.  

Late musical bloomer

Astonishingly, the great composer of such works as the epic The Ring Cycle, Richard Wagner showed very little aptitude or enthusiasm for music as a child. Because of his indifference, he was the only one of his siblings not to have piano lessons. This was until he turned 13 and wrote a play that he insisted should be set to music. As a result he began learning and the rest is musical history. 

Dodgy doctors

As well as sharing the same birth year as each other, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel also shared the same ocular surgeon, John Taylor. Unfortunately for them, Taylor was a charlatan and both composers were left blinded after operations to save their eye sight. 

Man in white doctors coat gestrues raising his eyebrows whilst woman with paper stands behind him.

Lucky charms

Some believe in a lucky horse shoe or even a four leaf clover but Edvard Grieg had an interesting lucky charm. He kept a frog figurine in his pocket at all times and would rub it before concerts for good luck.

Mozart motivation

Now there’s working against the clock and to a deadline and then there’s Mozart who wrote the overture to Don Giovanni on the morning of the premiere. Not only that but he wrote it while suffering from a massive hangover.

Man in uniform sings with fists in the air and foot resting on bag on the floor.

Note-worthy champion

With more than 40 operas to his name and many instrumental and orchestral works, Handel is thought to have composed more notes of music than any other composer in history. 

Heads will roll...

The Russian composer Tchaikovsky suffered from extreme hypochondria, so much so that he would always hold his chin with one hand while conducting. His reasoning was that if he were to let go his head might fall off.