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Larry Kart

Anton Webern's genitals

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A passage from Joan Allen Smith's "Schoenberg and His Circle: A Viennese Portrait" (Schirmer Books, 1986). The speaker is Wolfgang Ploderer, his father was a close friend of Alban Berg's, recalling Webern as a conductor: 

"He was very impressive. He was a very good conductor.... He was quite nervous.... If you see the photographs, you think he is quite a small, slight, tender man. He had a very firm body, and when he made the rehearsals ... -- he was conducting in shirtsleeves only -- and then he sweated so much and you could see that he was very muscular and very, very manly I must say. It was a very great impression to me...."

 

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The Master of Ceremonies interrupted the program with, "Paging Mr. Johnson... Paging Mr. Johnson."  

During the intermission, the MC announced, "Our guest conductor needs no introduction."

Afterwards, the performance received a standing ovation. 

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Posted (edited)

I suspect a translator's inaccuracy. If the German original reads "männlich" it's not necessarily a reference to genitals visible under garments. It tells more about Ploderer than about Webern. Who cares, anyway? With pants as baggy as they were back then, who would get a hint? See this photo of Webern and Schönberg:

arrnold_schoenberg_anton_webern_berlin_1

Edited by mikeweil

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"very very manly" can simply refer to his lean, muscular frame which would be very visible if he is in shirtsleeves and then you add in copious amounts of sweat and I might call him very manly too but that has nothing to do with his package, let alone whether it was especially visible. 

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Have you read Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case Of The Pointillistic Penis?

:rolleyes:

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Posted (edited)

Does it mean that Anton Webern didn't need the common baton to lead the orchestra?

:)

Sorry I couldn't resist

Edited by porcy62

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On a board with a history of a seemingly boundless capacity for WTF?-ishness galore, this thread might well be the most WTF?-ish.

MI0002895351.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Mods, could we please move this thread content to "Lionel Neman Demonstrating the Penis Napkin Gag" under "Artists?" 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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40 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Mods, could we please move this thread content to "Lionel Neman Demonstrating the Penis Napkin Gag" under "Artists?" 

Total dick move.

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3 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

"very very manly" can simply refer to his lean, muscular frame which would be very visible if he is in shirtsleeves and then you add in copious amounts of sweat and I might call him very manly too but that has nothing to do with his package, let alone whether it was especially visible. 

I think the repeated "very" and "I must say" point to my interpretation of  the passage, that plus the emphasis on how sweaty Webern could get. Further, if so,  additional context for Poldorer's remark is the common perception at the time that Webern was a "very nervous, rather delicate person" -- "a quite small, slight, tender man." Further context, is the well-known fact that fairly often Webern would get so absorbed in minutely rehearsing a small portion of one work on a program that he would call in sick at the last minute  and another conductor would have to take over. In other words, Poldorer almost certainly wouldn't have mentioned what he saw or thought he saw if it wasn't to his mind paradoxical -- e.g. mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent is actually Superman.

Sorry if what I posted struck some as vulgar; I just found it amusing. After all, one doesn't get to heard that many humanizing tales about Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern.

In a somewhat similar vein, from the same book, there's this:

In the teens of the century, some members of Schoenberg's circle secretly took a sample of his handwriting to a celebrated Viennese graphologist and clairvoyant, without of course identifying who it came from, and asked the man to interpret it. After speaking of the writer's tyrannical traits, his absolute belief in his genius etc, the graphologist concluded, "This man thinks he is the Emperor of China!" Many years later, in California, several members of Schoenberg's circle (Steuermann,  Erwin Stein, etc,) are at a gathering at Schoenberg's house in Los Angeles and are reminiscing about the graphologist incident, laughing and chuckling about it in a corner of the room. Schoenberg demands to know what's going on, and finally on of them works up the nerve to finally tell S.  the story of what they had done so many years ago, with its "This man thinks he is the Emperor of China!" conclusion. To which S. angrily replies: "What? What? I AM the Emperor of China!"

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8 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

In the teens of the century, some members of Schoenberg's circle secretly took a sample of his handwriting to a celebrated Viennese graphologist and clairvoyant, without of course identifying who it came from, and asked the man to interpret it. After speaking of the writer's tyrannical traits, his absolute belief in his genius etc, the graphologist concluded, "This man thinks he is the Emperor of China!" Many years later, in California, several members of Schoenberg's circle (Steuermann,  Erwin Stein, etc,) are at a gathering at Schoenberg's house in Los Angeles and are reminiscing about the graphologist incident, laughing and chuckling about it in a corner of the room. Schoenberg demands to know what's going on, and finally on of them works up the nerve to finally tell S.  the story of what they had done so many years ago, with its "This man thinks he is the Emperor of China!" conclusion. To which S. angrily replies: "What? What? I AM the Emperor of China!"

did he then strip naked to prove it?

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Re: practicalities of the incident, two comments from a classical board where I posted this story and where doubts were then raised about what Poldorer could have seen:

1) How about the following reasoning?  The sweat caused [Webern's] clothes 
to become semi transparent.  One thing you could tell was that he was 
very muscular.  Another you could tell was that he was very manly.  So 
manly didn't refer to his upper body muscles. 

 
2) Possibly the most traumatic moment of my life (which I had mercifully 
forgotten about until just now) was coming out of the surf at the beach 
as a teen wearing a brand new white bathing suit, which turned out to be 
transparent when wet.  Oy.


 

1 minute ago, JSngry said:

did he then strip naked to prove it?

No -- he had everyone in the room sent to Outer Mongolia.

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BTW, don't get the impression that this book is filled with gossip. A series of interviews with members of Schoenberg's circle, it's full of fascinating information. E.g. this from Felix Greissle about Schoenberg's teaching methods:

"[Except in performances] he never touched otherwise contemporary music. He talked most about Beethoven, very much about Bach, little about Mozart and Haydn. About Mozart he didn't talk because he found him too complicated, invariably too complicated, because too irregular ... seven measure phrases and so on.... 

 

Otto Deutsch adds: "Bach [to him] was a modern composer; Brahms, a progressive composer; Mozart, the most modern of all! He said: 'I am that pupil of Mozart!' -- not one, that -- the only! He said that. I heard it there."

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Didn't Webern wear no drawers?

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Looking again at the book, I see I didn't get the Emperor of China story just right. Marcel Dick, violist in the Kolsich Quartet,  talking: "[It was Schoenberg 70th birthday celebration] and Schoenberg noticed  that a group of his old friends were whispering around in  the corner and laughing and smiling, and S. couldn't tolerate that anything should happen in his surroundings that he didn't know about and had no control of. So he said, 'You over there! What's that? What are you laughing at?' Finally, one of them took the courage and -- after so many years they were all grandfathers and what have you, but still hesitantly one of them told him the story of Schermann the graphologist and what he said and that he the said that the man thinks he is the emperor of China.' 'What, what? Well, didn't you tell him that I am?' So this was Schoenberg. Of course he was!"

 

 

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47 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Didn't Webern wear no drawers?

If he sweated that much, probably it would have made no difference. See the story above about the boy in the wet white bathing suit, which probably had a mesh inside pouch, but so what?

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Maybe conducting turned him on?

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14 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Looking again at the book, I see I didn't get the Emperor of China story just right. Marcel Dick, violist in the Kolsich Quartet,  talking: "[It was Schoenberg 70th birthday celebration] and Schoenberg noticed  that a group of his old friends were whispering around in  the corner and laughing and smiling, and S. couldn't tolerate that anything should happen in his surroundings that he didn't know about and had no control of. So he said, 'You over there! What's that? What are you laughing at?' Finally, one of them took the courage and -- after so many years they were all grandfathers and what have you, but still hesitantly one of them told him the story of Schermann the graphologist and what he said and that he the said that the man thinks he is the emperor of China.' 'What, what? Well, didn't you tell him that I am?' So this was Schoenberg. Of course he was!"

 

 

Marcel Dick?

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14 hours ago, JSngry said:

Didn't Webern wear no drawers?

It seems not. According to the original passage, -- he was conducting in shirtsleeves only -- :o.

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Neither drawers nor britches!

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Marcel%20Dick.jpg

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I couldn't resist the urge to see what Google would turn up related to the search string "Anton Webern's genitals".

I wish that I could report that an impressive amount of rarefied genito-musical depravity was the result, but sadly, the only two hits of substance were this post and your similar one at rmcr. 

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A quote from a 'Seinfeld' episode might apply: "Yes, they're real... and they're spectacular!"

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