• Daigan, a Zen monk, was studying when a thief walked into his apartment and robbed him. As the thief was leaving, Daigan asked him to shut the door to keep the thieves out.
• Sir Neville Cardus, a critic, once complained in print that Sir Thomas Beecham had conducted at a much too rapid tempo the final act of Siegfried, thus marring an otherwise fine performance. Sir Thomas, of course, had an explanation. He told Sir Neville that the orchestra had been in the pit since 5:30 p.m., the pubs closed at 11 p.m., the audience had homes to get to, and so, after looking at his watch just before the final act and discovering that it was already after 10 p.m., he had decided to conduct the final act quickly and let everyone go about their business.
• Austrian Emperor Joseph II once said about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, “Too beautiful for our ears and a great many notes, my dear Mozart.” Mozart replied, “Exactly as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.”
• German composer Max Reger did not take criticism lightly. He once wrote a critic who had savaged his work: “I am sitting in the smallest room in the house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me.”
• Pianist Moriz Rosenthal disliked much modern music. He once listened to three piano students rehearsing three different pieces of music at a school for pianists, then said, “Ah, modern music.”
• Sometimes people die of hunger; sometimes this happens because of pride. In Vilna in the 19thcentury, a rich man became poor. Because of his pride he kept up appearances, and he did not ask for help, and so he died because of lack of food. The townspeople were ashamed that anyone could die in their midst in this way, but Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883) told them, “That man did not die of starvation, but of excessive pride. Had he been willing to ask others for help and admit to his situation, he would not have died of hunger.”
• Elimelekh of Lyzhansk (d. 1786), a Hasidic Rebbe, felt that when he died, he would be asked several questions in the Heavenly court of justice: Had he been as just as he could have? Had he been as charitable as he could have? Had he studied as much as he could have? Had he prayed as much as he could have? To each of these questions, he would have to answer, “No.” However, he also believed that “the Supreme Judge will smile and say, ‘Elimelekh, you spoke the truth. For this alone you will have a share in the world to come.’”
• According to the Midrash, when you die, you will have three friends. Your first friend — money — will not go with you when you die. Your second friend — your family and neighbors — will go with you only as far as your grave. Your third friend — your good deeds — is the only friend who will accompany you to the next World and defend you before the Judge.
• Tenor Enrico Tamberlik was able to read his own highly complimentary obituary notices after a rumor started in 1882 that he had died. He pasted the notices in an album and enjoyed reading them until his death seven years later.
• When Mulla Nasrudin realized that he was dying, he decided to play one final joke. He ordered that his tomb have a huge, locked door to keep intruders out, but he also ordered that his tomb not have any walls.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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