02 September 2008

from unspecified music reviews (George Bernard Shaw)

At Bayreuth, the highly esteemed ladies are requested by public notice to remove their hats, and those who have innocent little bonnets, which would not obstruct a child's view, carefully remove them. The ladies with the Eiffel hats, regarding them as objects of public interest not second to any work of Wagner's, steadfastly disregard the notice; and Germany, with all its martinets, dare not enforce the discipline.

It must take something like a lion-tamer's nerve to be a man of genius. And when the man of genius is timid, he must suffer more than the ordinary coward. I have seen Richard Wagner, who was so vehemently specialised by nature as a man of genius that he was totally incapable of anything ordinary. He fought with wild beasts all his life; and when you saw him coming through a crowded cage, even when they all felt about him as the lions felt about Daniel, he had an air of having his life in his hand, and of wandering in search of his right place and his own people, if any such there might be. He would wander away to the walls and corners, apparently in search of some door or stairway or other exit from this world, not finding which he would return disconcerted and - being a most humane man - sit down and pet one of the animals with a little conversation.

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