Théophile Gautier? Molière? Alphonse Karr? Alexander Dumas père? A Mathematician? Prince Albert? Joseph Coyne? Honoré de Balzac?Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Opperiods and orchestra concerts are quite expensive productions. A deprecatory wit when grumbled about the outlays. Here are 3 versions:

Of all the noises known to guy, opera is the the majority of expensive.Opera is the most expensive variety of noise.Music is the most expensive of all noises.

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This thought has actually been attributed to the prominent French playwappropriate Molière, yet I have actually been unable to discover a great citation. Would you please check out this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest enhance located by QI appeared in the 1845 book “Zigzags” by Théophile Gautier, a French dramatist, novelist, and also critic; yet, Gautier disdeclared credit and also ascribed the barb to an unnamed “géomètre” (“mathematician”). Here is an excerpt in French complied with by one possible English translation. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Un soir, j’étais à Drury-Lane. On jouait la Favorite, accommodée au goût britannique, et traduite dans la langue de l’île, ce qui produisait un vacarme difficile à qualifier, et justifiait parfaitement le mot d’un géomètre, qui n’était pas mélomane assurément. — La musique est le plus désagréable et le plus cher de tous les bruits. — Aussi j’écoutais peu, et j’avais le dos tourné au théâtre.

One night I was at Drury Lane. The opera was La Favorite, adapted to the British taste and interpreted right into the language of the island also. This developed a din that is challenging to categorize, and also perfectly justified the quip of a mathematician, that was absolutely not a music lover. — Music is the the majority of unpleasant and the most expensive of all noises. — So I listened little bit, and my ago was turned to the theater.

Molière (pen name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) died in 1673, and the earliest affiliation of the playwright to the saying uncovered by QI appeared many type of years later in 1956. Details are provided further listed below.

Here are added selected citations in chronological order.

In 1856 a volume of “L’Artiste” consisted of an write-up straight crediting Gautier with the renote. Here is a French excerpt complied with by an English rendering: 2

Théophile Gautier a écrit quelque part: « La musique est le plus désagréable et le plus cher de tous les bruits. »

Théophile Gautier wrote somewhere: “Music is the a lot of unpleasant and the many expensive of all noises.”

In 1865 the recommendation “Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siècle” additionally attributed the expression to Gautier. 3

Yet, in the very same year of 1865 a less complicated circumstances of the saying was ascribed to French critic Alphonse Karr in “L’Artiste: Beaux-Arts et Belles Lettres”: 4

C’est, je crois, Alphonse Karr qui a dit: « La musique est le plus cher de tous les bruits. »

It is, I believe, Alphonse Karr who said: “Music is the most expensive of all noises.”

In 1875 a variant statement in English targeting pianos appeared in “The Musical Standard: A Newspaper for Musicians”: 5

It is much less the practice than it was a number of years back, to pressure young females, ircorresponding of taste and aptitudes, to “practise” a number of hours day-to-day. French human being have actually pertained to understand that as soon as there is no herbal contact to the piano, percreating on it is many expensive noise. At Parisian boarding institutions, the propercent of girls devoting themselves to this instrument is extremely small.

In 1876 the London periodical “The Academy” credited Gautier through a less complicated variation of the saying: 6

To eextremely one pertained to the standard farce might be described in the words Théophile Gautier booked for music, as “the a lot of expensive noise he kbrand-new of.”

In 1880 a arsenal of functions by Alphonse Karr showed up under the title “Le Livre de Bord”. Interestingly, Karr attributed an circumstances of the saying to Théophile Gautier: 7

Il disait un jour: — La musique est à la fois le plus cher et le plus désagréable de tous les bruits.

One day he said: — Music is both the the majority of expensive and the many unpleasant of all noises.

In February 1883 ‘The Times” of London publimelted an anecdote around Germale composer Richard Wagner and also French novelist Alexandre Dumas père, and also the saying was assigned to Dumas: 8

Now, Wagner constantly appeared to pontify as soon as he talked, and he might never before sign up with in little bit jokes against himself. Alexandre Dumas, calling upon him, made some good-humoured renote about his own ignorance of music—which he had actually once identified as “the many expensive of noises”:—but his pleasantries were listened to via such a smileless stolidity that he went home in a huff, and created his contemptuous protest against “Wagnerian din—motivated by the riot of cat scampering in the dark about an ironmonger’s shop.”

In October 1883 “The Daily Picayune” of New Orleans, Louisiana printed a variant targeting high-priced singers: 9

Amateur singing is never excellent, because the singer does not get 4 thousand dollars a sight. Nothing yet the many expensive noise suits the American public.

In 1886 the “Chicearlier Tribune” printed a tale linking Prince Albert of Prussia to the saying: 10

Franz Liszt, after vainly trying with his most brilliant performances to develop some impression upon Prince Frederick, brvarious other of the King of Roumania, exclaimed: “No wonder! All the Hohenzollerns I have well-known cared nothing for music. Old Prince Albert once told me he looked upon music as an ‘expensive noise’

In 1911 “The New York Times” published an anonymous instance targeting opera: 11

A wag as soon as defined opera as the many expensive variety of noise. Still it is not fairly as expensive as the faithful phalanx of push agents would have actually us believe.

In 1915 the musical comedy actor Joseph Coyne obtained crmodify within a London newspaper for the quip aimed at opera: 12

As in a lot of opera-residences the intervals inhabited as a lot time as the performance—for this reason justifying Mr. Coyne’s renote that “opera is the many expensive noise in the world” . . .

In 1921 the periodical “The Etude” of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania implausibly credited Honoré de Balzac that had actually died many kind of years earlier in 1850: 13

We recognize that Balzac, the excellent, maybe the greatest novelist, sassist of music that it was “the a lot of expensive noise”: but we need not mind this expected witticism; for Balzac belonged to the literary fraternity and everybody knows that, through a couple of and also very remarkable exceptions the word-artists know nopoint about music.

In 1956 the “Daily News” of New York reperceived a double production at the City Center. The first manufacturing was a one-act opera “The School for Wives” based upon Molière’s play “L’École des Femmes”. The second production was a one-act play “The Impresario” (“Der Schauspieldirektor”) using the music of Mozart.

The reviewer declared that the joke was spoken by the title character of “The Impresario”. The complying with paragraph of the review disputed “The School for Wives”. Therefore, an inattentive reader could assume that the joke was consisted of in “The School for Wives”. Additional, the careless reader might assume that Molière authored the quip: 14

And when Ludwig Donath, acting the title duty, observed that opera is “the a lot of expensive noise recognized to man,” the audience laughed in heartfelt sympathy.

“School for Wives,” with which the New York City Opera chose to open this brand-new double production, provides Moliere speechless. And although Rolf Liebermann, the Swiss that set the play to music, is a living, breapoint composer these days, tright here is nopoint new or old, for that issue, about his product. It is a timeless bore.

The English adaptation of “The Impresario” (“Der Schauspieldirektor”) by Giovanni Cardelli does not contain the jest pointed out in the “Daily News”. Cardelli’s adaptation does contain a partial complement spoken by the character Scruples: 15

Scruples: Opera involves as well much extravagant cost.

Someone associated through the 1956 manufacturing, e.g., the director or Ludwig Donath, may have transcreated the line above right into the joke or ssuggest inserted the joke.

The 1968 book “The Miracle of the Met: An Informal History of the Metropolitan Opera” by Quaintance Eaton attributed Molière: 16

Truly, if the gentlemales had recognized that Molière was, they can have actually groaned through him: “Of all the noises known to man, opera is the the majority of expensive.”

The quip continued to circulate in 1995 in “The Los Angeles Times” of The golden state wbelow Molière aobtain received credit: 17

As a fund-raiser, the evening was a major success through more than $300,000 elevated from tickets priced as high as $725 each. Proving, in the words of Moliere: “Of all the noises well-known to male, opera is the the majority of expensive.”

In conclusion, this jest has actually been evolving for more than 170 years. The earliest instance found by QI was created by Théophile Gautier in 1845, however he attributed an unidentified “géomètre” (“mathematician”). Originally, the barb was aimed at music, and also over time pianos, singing, and also opera were all defined as expensive noise. The linkage to Molière is currently unsustained.

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(Great thanks to Mark Schubin whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and percreate this expedition. Additional many thanks to Mark Schubin that noted that the “Daily News” reported that the joke in 1956 was spoken during a performance of “The Impresario”. Additional thanks to Mark Schubin who figured out the pertinent line in Giovanni Cardelli’s English adaptation of “Der Schauspieldirektor”. Many many thanks to Johannes Borgen for help through the translation of the French message of the 1845 citation. All errors are the duty of QI.)

Update History: On August 2, 2021 the post was updated to state that the “Daily News” reported that the quip in 1956 was spoken throughout a performance of “The Impresario”.