Brahms hated cats? What?

Brahms hated cats? What?

Has anyone else read about this? Richard Wagner, the "notoriously bitchy composer" (David Ward, The Guardian), said that Johannes Brahms, composer and owner of classical music's best beard, hated cats. Allegedly, Brahms would sit by a window with a bow-and-arrow-type weapon that Dvořák gave him, and shoot arrows at the cats in the street. Once he'd caught a cat, he would reel it in like he was fishing. But the really ridiculous part of this story is this: Brahms would listen to the sounds the cats made as he was reeling them in, and he'd incorporate the sounds into his music.

Insanity, Richard. You're just making things up. Some people who study Brahms have done a fair job of debunking the rumour; basically, Wagner was being jealous and making up insane stories about a composer whom he saw as competition. Wagner on Brahms' music: "the evil only starts when one attempts to compose better than one can."

I mean, I get that Brahms was grumpy, and sort of like the Eeyore of Romantic composers, but I just can't see him perched at a window, sniping cats. But the Internet is still talking about it. There's even this.

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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