The 20 Harshest Composer-on-Composer Insults in Classical Music

It’s well documented that in the classical music realm, the egos that accompany the talent can get a little out of control. Here we’ve collected 20 harsh insults that great composers gave to other great composers.

1. Tchaikovsky on Brahms

Tchaikovsky on Brahms
“Brahms is just some chaotic and utterly empty wasteland.” Source

 2. Beethoven on Rossini

Beethoven on Rossini
“Opera seria is ill-suited to the italians. you do not know how to deal with real drama.” Source

3. Rossini on Wagner’s Lohengrin

Rossini on Wagner’s Lohengrin.
“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and i certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.” Source

4. Prokofiev on Stravinsky

prokofiev on stravinsky
“Bach on the wrong notes.” Source

5. Stravinsky on Rachmaninov

Stravinsky on Rachmaninov
“He was a six and a half foot scowl.”

6. Berlioz on Handel

berlioz on handel
“A great barrel of pork and beer.” Source

7. Clara Schumann on Liszt

clara schumann on liszt
“That is just meaningless noise – not a single healthy idea anymore, everything confused, a clear harmonic progression is not to be found here any longer.” Source

8. Vaughan Williams on Mahler

vaughan williams on Mahler
“A very tolerable imitation of a composer.” Source

9. Bizet on Wagner

Bizet on Wagner
“He is endowed with such insolent conceit that criticism cannot touch his heart – admitting that he has a heart, which I doubt. ” Source

10. Schoenberg on Strauss

schoenberg on strauss
“The expressions he uses are as banal as a cheap song.” Source

11. Fauré on Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major

faure on ravel
“Truncated, ill-balanced, and, in a nutshell, a failure.” Source

12. Saint-Saëns on Debussy

saint saens on debussy
“He cultivated an absence of style, logic, and common sense.” Source

13. Mendelssohn on Berlioz

Mendelssohn on Berlioz
“Indifferent drivel, mere grunting, shouting and screaming back and forth.” Source

14. Tchaikovsky on Borodin

tchaikovsky on borodin
“He can’t compose a single line without somebody’s help.” Source

15. Brahms on Liszt

Brahms on Liszt
“The compositions are getting more and more fingers often itch to pick an argument, and to write anti-Liszt. ” Source

16. Schumann on Wagner

schumann on wagner
“He cannot write or think out four consecutive bars of beautiful, or even good music.” Source

17. Copland on Vaughan Williams

copland on Vaughan Williams
“Listening to the fifth symphony of ralph vaughan williams is like starring at a cow for 45 minutes.” Source

18. Stravinsky on Messiaen

stravinsky on messiaen
“All you need to write like him is a large bottle of ink.” Source

19. Louis Schneider on Debussy’s La Mer

louis schneider on debussy
“The audience expected the Ocean. Something big, something colossal, but they were served instead with some agitated water in a saucer. ” Source

20. Britten on Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress

britten on stravinsky
“I liked the Opera very much. Everything but the music. ” Source


  1. Richard Strauss on Schoenberg:

    “The only person who can help poor Schoenberg now is a psychiatrist …”. “I think he’d do better to shovel snow instead of scribbling on music-paper…”


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