• As a concert pianist, Denis Matthews had to practice long and hard. Following breakfast one day, he went to his music room and began practicing the Brahms B flat Concerto. Several hours later, when it was his young daughter’s bedtime, he was still practicing. As she was saying good night to her father, she said, “If ever I do music when I grow up, I’m going to do it for FUN!”
• Elizabeth Soderstrom brought her children to see her in the opera The Mines of Sulphur. Her two oldest children loved it — especially the part when her character opened her cloak to show the spots that indicated that she had the plague. Unfortunately, her youngest child was terrified and for a few weeks kept looking at people to see if they had spots.
• When he was 11 years old, Leonard Bernstein started taking piano lessons. He immediately loved the piano, and sometimes early in the morning, he would get out of bed and play. His father once told him, “Lenny, don’t you know it’s two o’clock?” Young Leonard replied, “I know. But the sounds are in my head and I just have to get them out.”
• Fritz, the brother of lieder singer Lotte Lehmann, was a terror when he and she were young, although he became very supportive of her and her career when they grew up. As a young boy, he used to pretend to be an Indian, kidnap her dolls, scalp them, paint the roots of the dolls’ hair red, and hang them dripping from his belt.
• As a young girl, comedian Beatrice Lillie got one of her first laughs while in church. She was singing in a choir, when a woman beside her passed gas loudly during a pause in the music. Young Beatrice turned to the woman and said, “Well, really!”
• Entertainer Terri Balash, a star of Godspell, enjoyed performing even as a youngster. When she was six years old, she sometimes walked into her parents’ parties and announced, “Okay, I’m going to entertain now, so everybody listen.”
• When in grade school, future lieder singer Lotte Lehmann was insulted when one of her compositions was returned to her marked, “Judging from the accomplishments hitherto displayed in school, I doubt the authenticity of this work.” In other words, her teacher thought young Lotte was plagiarizing because the quality of the composition was so good. Therefore, young Lotte demanded that she be allowed to write another composition as the teacher watched her to make sure she was not plagiarizing. Her teacher told her to write about Christmas, she did so as he watched her, and she proved that she was capable of writing good, original compositions.
• Near Christmas, the Music Department of Colorado College in Colorado Springs performed Handel’s Messiah, which was simulcast on the radio by station KKTV. The radio announcer was daydreaming when he suddenly realized that The Messiahwas coming to an end, and he needed to play a record — quickly. He grabbed the first record he came across and put it on a turntable. The radio audience heard the end of The Messiah, the announcer identifying the station, and then a record playing “Happy Birthday to You.”
• When he was a child, singer James Brown’s family was impoverished, and he was frequently sent home from school because his clothing was in such poor shape. In fact, one reason he began stealing was so he could have decent clothing. Of course, the stealing eventually led to his arrest. After being found guilty of stealing a car battery, he was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison.
• Pop singer Madonna was an original even as a schoolgirl. Like the other students, Madonna wore a uniform at school, but she kept her school locker stocked with colorful hair bows and socks so she could be different from her classmates.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved