The date is aptly chosen, as it’s Shakespeare’s birthday. However, it’s not clear by what authority Chicago’s mayor has made this proclamation. And, having visited the Windy City once or twice, I find it hard to imagine any place where people generally speak less like the Bard of Avon.
For instance, Shakespeare wouldn’t have minced words with Pierre Boulez. No doubt, he would have called the French composer/conductor a “gleeking folly-fallen eunuch,” or perhaps even a “perfidious spur-galled harpy.”
Similarly, if the Russian maestro Valery Gergiev ever found himself in Shakespeare’s bad books, he’d get a verbal drubbing with phrases like “churlish motley-minded tyrant,” and “withered crook-pated horn-beast.”
Who else would be grist for Shakespeare’s mill? How’s about Placido Domingo – an “unmuzzled urchin-snouted hedge-pig,” on a bad night? Even Yo-Yo Ma might be mercilessly skewered as a “pribbling clay-brained wag-tail,” or a “sanctimonious beetle-headed varlet.”
As for Peter Gelb – the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, whose tenure has been much criticized of late – he could expect something like “mumbling toad-spotted mangy-dog.” And if he didn’t soon mend his ways, the gloves would come off, with “loathed shard-borne maggot-pie” and “abominable earth-vexing bugbear.”
In short, Shakespeare would show today’s music critics how it’s done. And although he departed for the Great Theatre in the Sky long ago, his inspiring words are still with us.
So, critics of the world, the next time you feel inclined to call a musician “uninteresting,” or “lacking in appeal,” or some other banal epithet, just turn to the Shakespearean Insults Generator (here) – and let the Bard guide your hand.
© Colin Eatock 2012