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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

André Grétry

  • [A celebrated composer; born at Liège, 1741; after studying at Rome, settled in Paris, where his operas, especially “Richard Cœur de Lion” acquired great vogue; died 1813.]
  • Toujours Grétry.

  • Mme. de Rémusat, after mentioning Napoleon’s inability to remember names, and the rude manner in which he asked them of persons he constantly met, relates an anecdote of Grétry, who was in the habit, as member of the Institute, of attending the emperor’s Sunday receptions, where Napoleon, perfectly familiar with his face, put week after week his invariable question, “Well, what is your name?” until the composer, tired of giving the same answer, and perhaps piqued at the slight impression he had made, replied at last, impatiently, “Sire, always Grétry.” The emperor had no difficulty in recollecting him thereafter.—Memoirs, II. 10.
  • When Sedaine said of the failure of one of Grétry’s operas, of which he had written the libretto, “The pear was not ripe,” Grétry replied, “That did not prevent its falling” (Cela ne l’a empêchée de tomber) (also to fail, of dramatic pieces); and Rousseau made a similar pun, but in an opposite sense, when Gluck complained that his opera of “Alceste” had failed (tombée): “Yes, but from heaven” (Oui, mais elle est tombée du ciel).