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Musicians and Coffee: A miscellany

Musicians and Coffee: A miscellany

Aug 06, 2021

Mozart preferred his coffee black: About two months before he died, Mozart wrote to his wife about playing billiards after which he ordered black coffee and smoked a "wonderful pipe of tobacco". Coffee even makes an appearance in Don Giovanni.

Rossini noticed that coffee's effects wore off after constant use: A lover of many foods, he was quoted as saying, "Coffee is a matter of fifteen or twenty days: luckily the time to make an opera".

When in Venice, Wagner would drop by Caffe' Lavena in the Piazza San Marco for a cup of tea or glass of cognac, (Ok, so he wasn’t a coffee drinker), often with his wife Cosima or his father-in-law, Liszt. While sitting in Caffe' Lavena, Wagner wrote parts of Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde. Today, Wagner’s table is preserved along with a photo and plaque.

Just across the Piazza was the Caffè Florian, which Wagner’s contemporary Verdi often visited. The Florian was established in 1720, making it the oldest continually operating cafe in Europe. It was also frequented by Goethe, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens.

Mendelssohn at the coffee house (from a letter to his family):

Every morning I have to write, correct and score till one o'clock, when I go to Scheidel's coffee house in Kaufinger Gasse, where I know each face by heart and find the same people every day in the same position: two playing chess, three looking on, five reading the newspapers, six eating their dinner — with me making up the seventh.

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