The ultimate test of musical genius

So… how does one identify true musical genius in the 21st Century? Is it a composer with a new harmonic vocabulary? A conductor with photographic memory? A violinist with perfect pitch? A pianist with ten brains for ten fingers?

I, for one, look to poetry.

Magnetic poetry. Dirty magnetic poetry…. Is there any other kind?

I don’t remember when I first noticed the pattern. Perhaps it was the reception at the “great composer’s” house, when I discovered something on his fridge that, in the space of a few lines, left me with a queasy feeling that stayed with me for weeks.

That, however, was nothing compared to the afternoon spent at the home of a leading conducting guru. His fridge was adorned with a selection of verse that could make the Pope himself question the existence of God. I actually had to look up literary references and consult a medical journal to fully appreciate what I had read.

Lest one think that filthy kitchen creations are the sole province of men, I call the reader’s attention to the famously babalicious young violinist I hung out with in Aspen who could convert anyone’s kitchen into a superfund site given ten minutes and a magnetic poetry kit.

We’ve just had a very accomplished fellow conductor staying with us the last few days. After seeing the magnetic poetry kit on our fridge, he began a sort of slow, deep laugh that told me that we were all facing a new kind of mortal threat.

Rather than simply launch into the compositional process, the maestro in question began by systematically undoing the long legacy of previous dirty poems that fridge has held. The legacy of the sonnet by the concertmaster of the major orchestra, my own work, that of my wonderfully yet depravedly creative soul-mate, and that of many other distinguished house guests was systematically obliterated as he organized all the words into nouns, verbs, adjectives and modifiers….

Over the next 72 hours, he worked meticulously, line by line, phrase by phrase, leaving us yesterday with work so vile that we have requested that the British government send a chemical weapons abatement team to remove the fridge from our house.

Greatest magnetic poet of all time- Mozart. Of course, he didn’t have a fridge to work with, but one need only read his wonderfully filthy letters to know that the greatest musical genius can only be fully appreciated with the help of modern home appliances…

c. 2007 Kenneth Woods

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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5 comments on “The ultimate test of musical genius”

  1. Travis

    Oh come On! You have to share some of the compositions, at the very least some excerpts.

  2. Kenneth Woods

    Hey Travis

    Much as I would love to, I’m afraid posting any portion of those poems would cause the hosting company to shut down the site and start an investigation….

    Hope all’s well there.


  3. Sheridan

    Hey Ken, would said filthy maestro perhaps be the same one I ran into at a pops rehearsal a couple days ago in a little town just south of here? 🙂

  4. The Filthy Maestro in Question

    Wow.. That took Sheridan no time to figure out. I guess I should find out who else knew my travel itinerary. Funny Stuff though. Cheers… thanks for your GReat hospitality.


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