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Dinner With The Dead: Simon Rattle Shares Humor With Haydn

What kind of dinner guest would Brahms or Bernstein make? All this week, we're telling stories about who we'd like to bring back from the beyond to share a meal with. Tell us which composer you would pick and why in the comments section.

Some of my favorite music in the world is Haydn. I had a sabbatical one year and made myself one promise: to play a different Haydn piano sonata each day — they are inexhaustible treasures.

So Haydn, I think, would be the best company. He's the most humane of all composers and I'm sure we would laugh a lot. His English might be even worse than my German, which is really saying something. I think there would be so much to talk about.

It's interesting, composers can be very funny ducks. There aren't many with whom you could have a really relaxed friendly, menschlich time in the way that you can with someone like John Adams these days. But Haydn was one of those. There's this sentence he wrote in English, actually, that says it all. He says, "You can see just by looking at my face that I'm a nice sort of fellow." I think we'd get on just great.

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(Simon Rattle is the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.)

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