Of course everyone knows about the composers for their work and their talent, but not everyone knows about the skeletons in their closet. Aside from their immense talent and creativity, we have accounts of composers whose weird behaviors stunned many. Of course composers are human too and nobody could expect them to live perfect lives. While some composers kept their vices low key and away from the public, others openly displayed their weaknesses and bad behavior. While the list of composers with crazy behaviors is endless, we take you on a journey of 8 top composers with unusual characters and personalities.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Beethoven is widely regarded as one of the most talented composers of the era. However, Beethoven was a disorganized and messy individual. His lodgings smelt terrible as he often stacked trays of food remains in a corner next to his manuscript. Beethoven always clashed with his landlords as tenants complained he played his piano too loudly especially at odd hours disturbing the peace of others. Ludwig often shouted at his servants accusing them of stealing from him. 1795’s Rondo a capriccio was nicknamed Rage Over A Lost Penny as Beethoven claimed the night he was writing the composition, his gold penny had been stolen by his maid.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Mozart had an ugly obsession, namely an obsession with farting and defecation. In one of his letters, Mozart wrote about a stink that had come into the room. When his mum accuses him of farting, Mozart put his finger at his rear and sniffs it to confirm it’s indeed true. This crazy behavior didn’t stop here as Mozart was publicly known for imitating a cat especially while he was doing opera rehearsals with his singers. When he got bored, he would climb over chairs and tables meowing and somersaulting. Some experts associated Mozart’s strange behavior with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Famous French composer Erik Satie also had his personal feature. Satie had 12 identical gray, velvet suits. Here comes the weird part….. He only wore one suit until it was completely worn out before moving onto the next suit… who does that? At his death, he had only used six of his suits. Erik hated the sun and always carried a hammer around in his pocket to protect himself and opened his own church. After his death in 1925 as a result of liver cirrhosis, his fans discovered he wrote numerous letters to himself, had 84 handkerchiefs and 100 umbrellas! Not forgetting, Erik Satie only ate food that was white in color.
Russian composer Alexander Scriabin had a problem with confusion of senses caused by synaesthesia. Alexander at times confused music with colors and even invented a piano-like instrument that displayed colored light in concert halls. Throughout the course of his life, Scriabin tried to search for God and as a result, tried all manner of experiments including attempting to walk on water. Later on, his work took a scary and dark twist such as in “White Mass”, his Seventh Sonata which was about exorcising demons and Ninth Sonata “Black Mass” about summoning demons back to into living hell. “Mysterium” his final apocalyptic project was performed at the foothills of Himalayas for 7 days with bells suspended from clouds to attract spectators as music filled the air. At the end, the world was to dissolve and a new humanity of nobler beings ushered in.
The problem of the German composer Richard Wagner was a painful infectious rash. He tried to unsuccessfully cure the condition with two enemas per day which many believe was the reason why he was a cross-dresser; he loved to wear satin robes. In letters he sent to his designer, the composer requested for costumes with a feminine twist and in female colors such as pink. While it is claimed these dresses were for Cosima, his third wife, she never mentioned them in her diaries. His favorite color was pink as he often had rose-scented pink cushions and had a pink carpet for his 66th birthday. It is said when he suffered a fatal heart attack, he was found in a pink gown.
Austrian composer Anton was very fond of human skulls. He loved skulls for his fellow dead composers and in 1888 when Franz Schubert’s coffin was opened, he quickly reached out and tried to grab the dead composer’s skull with his both hands and had to be whisked away. He also behaved in the same way at Beethoven’s corpse. Bruckner was also obsessed with counting and kept an accurate count of how many “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” he recited every night. His musical symphonies were arranged to please his numerical obsession. His infatuation with teenage girls landed him in trouble in a school he taught as a music teacher.
While some composers were known for their infidelity, English composer Arnold Bax reached the peak with a list of numerous lovers dotted around the country. He openly boasted about his affair with Harriet Cohen, a 19-year old girl in “November Woods” a symphonic poem he released in 1917.
Henry Purcell is known for his strange and obscene drinking songs. Purcell who spent most his time at the bar had the habit of going home late, drunk and disorderly. This behavior went on until one day, his wife, Frances Purcell locked out her misbehaving husband on a chilly night which caused a bout a pneumonia that killed him.