Fuming Binder

We have seen how a comment comparing one of his symphonies to a pimple made Binder fume. In truth, the composer was much given to fuming. He fumed in circumstances where others, of a less choleric disposition, might simply tut or mumble or shrug. Nobody ever actually saw steam coming out of Binder’s ears, but he was invariably portrayed thus by cartoonists and by the more scurrilous painters of his day. Binder was a favourite subject of portraitists of all stripes, because he had such an extraordinary head. Words cannot quite capture its phantasmal oddity. And yet he was deemed the most handsome of composers by his admirers of both sexes, who were legion. Queues used to form at his dressing-room door whenever he deigned to appear at a concert hall, conducting one of his own works and a squib by an inferior for contrast. Even when fawned over, Binder fumed. He could occasionally be placated by marzipan treats, but not very often.

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