Wednesday, 16 December 2009

'Your friend Beethoven patronized him, the son-of-a-bitch. Told him to keep on writing tunes, that was what he was good for. All Rossini was doing at the time was trying to give him a lift, so he wouldn't have to live like a hog in the dump he found him in.'
'If he patronized him it was right.'
'The hell it was. When a Beethoven overture is as good as a Rossini overture, then it'll be his right. Until then, let him keep his goddam mouth shut.'
'Lad, lad, you're profaning a temple.'
'No, I'm not. You say he's the greatest composer that ever lived, and so do I. He wrote the nine greatest symphonies ever put on paper, and that makes him the greatest composer. But listen, symphonies are not all of music. When you get to the overtures, Beethoven's name is not at the top, and Rossini's is. The idea of a man that could write a thing like the Leonora No. 3 high-hatting Rossini. Why, when those horns sound off-stage, it's a cheap vaudeville effect that makes the William Tell Overture sound like a Meistersinger's Prelude, by comparison.'
'I confess I don't like it.'
'Oh yeah, he would show the boys how to write an overture, wouldn't he? He didn't have overtures in him. You know why? To write an overture, you've got to love the theatre, and he didn't. Did you ever hear Fidelio?'
'I have, and it shames me - '
'But Rossini loved the theatre, and that's why he could write an overture. He takes you into the theatre, - hell, you can even feel them getting into their seats, and smell the theatre smell, and see the lights go up on the curtain. Who the hell told Beethoven he could treat that guy as somebody with an amusing talent that he ought to cultivate?'
- Serenade, James M. Cain