Quote Of The Month: Charlie Chaplin Upon Hearing Tannhauser For The First Time

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 5 January 2018 | 8:37:00 pm


Taken from Christopher Lawrence's book, "Swooning: A Classical Music Guide to Life, Love, Lust and Other Follies"

"In Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography there is a story of an early dramatic encounter with classical music.

In 1913, while still an unknown stage comedian touring the United States with an English vaudeville troupe, the 24-year-old took a few days off from the grind of provincial shows to make a solo trip to New York. This oasis of comparative luxury included a good hotel, half a bottle of champagne and a first time visit to the opera, Wagner’s Tannhäuser (1845) at the Metropolitan. Chaplin knew neither German nor anything about the opera’s plot, yet when the Pilgrim’s Chorus began in Act Three, the future Little Tramp found himself weeping uncontrollably. ‘What people sitting next to me must have thought I don’t know,’ he wrote. ‘The music seemed to sum up all the travail of my life.’