International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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East Meets West and West Eats Meat
1. Classical music and vegetarianism
(with apologies to various Ravi Shankar album titles)
Poets are included as poetry is usually words with rhythm - and melody often added by later composers

Famous Vegetarians

Back to the Famous Vegetarians Index

click on the links for more details about each musician:

Orpheus (mythological) "...was a sober and gentle musician"

Pythagoras (c.580-c.500 BCE) "discovered that musical notes could be translated into mathematical equations"

Lord (George Gordon) Byron (1788-1824) - his poems and his life set to music
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) - German philosopher whose Buddhist related writings on music and animal rights had a significant influence on many below.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) - wrote poems about music

Richard Wagner, (1813-83) German music-drama composer.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist, also an amateur musician and composer. Anti-Wagnerian

Karl Klindworth (1830-1916) German music professor, conductor of Berlin Philharmonic, friend of Wagner.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) - German philosopher, also a minor composer.

Lilli Lehmann (1848-1929) German opera singer, especially of Wagner.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) - music critic for several London journals in the 1880s &90s.
Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) French composer and pianist.

Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) English folk song collector, several composers below used his collection. Wagnerian.
Hugo Wolf (Mar. 1860-1903) Austrian composer. Wagnerian.
Gustav Mahler (Jul. 1860-1911) Bohemian-Austrian composer and conductor. Wagnerian.

Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) Belgian writer, many works set to music.

Romain Rolland (1866-1944) - French writer, also Professor of History of Music at the Sorbonne.

Leonard Borwick (1868-1925) English concert pianist. Praised by critic GBS in London, 1890.

Alexander Scriabin (Jan. 1872-1915) Russian composer, Wagnerian, theosophist, Indian-ist.
Carl Friedberg
(Sep. 1872-1955) German born, USA from 1914, concert pianist and teacher. Performed with Mahler, taught Elly Ney below. Later at the Juilliard School NYC.

Arnold Schoenberg (Sep. 13, 1874-1951) Austrian/American composer. Disciple of Mahler, teacher of Cage.
Gustav Holst (Sep. 21,1874-1934) British composer (Swedish parents). Wagnerian. Indian influenced. Arranged settings of English folk songs from Sharp's collection.
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) German/French. A significant musician, as well as being better known for other work. Wagnerian.

Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) American dancer who made her name in Europe.
Cyril Scott (1879-1970) British composer, friend of Percy Grainger. Theosophist
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) surprisingly well known as an amatuer violinist. Anti-Wagnerian.
John Foulds (1880-1939) British composer. Married Maud McCarthy.
Herman Sandby (1881-1965) Danish composer, one of the Hoch Conservatory, Frankfurt, group.
Maud McCarthy (Jul. 4, 1882-1967) Irish violinist and Indian music expert.
Percy Grainger (Jul. 8, 1882-1961) Australian born composer. Lived in England for some time, where he collected folk songs and set some of Sharp's collection. His early experiments in 'chance' music pre-dated John Cage by many years.
Elly Ney (Sep. 1882-1968) German concert pianist.

Frank Merrick (Apr. 1886-1981) British pianist and composer, taught Thomas Pitfield below.

Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950) Russian ballet dancer, influenced by Tolstoy.

Phiroz Mehta (1902-1994) Indian pianist
Thomas Pitfield (1903-99) British composer, taught partly by Frank Merrick above.

John Cage (1912-92) American avant-garde composer.

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-99), American born violin virtuoso, performed/conducted and/or recorded music by Wagner and Holst above. Worked with Ravi Shankar below.
Georg Tintner (1917-99) Viennese born conductor, worked mainly Australia & Canada

Ravi Shankar (1920-) Indian sitar virtuoso, worked with Yehudi Menuhin and Philip Glass.

Vladimir Ruzdak (1922-) Yugoslav born opera singer, based in Germany
Gisela Litz (Dec. 1922-) German opera singer

Glenn Gould (1932-82) Canadian pianist
Ingrid Fuzjko Hemming (1932-) Japanese/German pianist

Montserrat Caballé (1933-) Spanish opera singer

Kurt Schwertsik (1935-) Austrian composer

Philip Glass (Jan. 1937-) American composer, worked with Ravi Shankar
Hildegard Behrens
(Feb. 1937-) German opera singer.
Marisa Robles (Apr 1937) Harpist (Spain/UK)

Peter Jonas (1946-) opera director

Viktoria Mullova (1959-) violinist

Juan Diego Flórez (born January 13, 1973 in Lima, Peru) Operatic tenor.


1854 - Richard Wagner first read Schopenhauer, later describing this as the most important event of his life.
- Karl Klindworth met Wagner in England, transcribed some of his music for piano and they remained friends for life.

1859 - Wagner planned to visit America, taking Klindworth with him as 2nd conductor, but the plans never materialised.

1869 - Wagner and the then vegetarian Nietzsche met over coffee. Wagner was then anti, but did something rub off? Their friendship had broken down by 1876 and both subsequently reversed their views of vegetarianism.

1874 - GB Shaw first 'converted' to Wagner's music whilst still in Dublin.
1875 - Wagner supervised productions of Tanhäuser and Lohengrin in Vienna. Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf, very young Conservatory students, were in the gallery.
- Lilli Lehmann to dinner with Wagner during rehearsals for the first Bayreuth Festival - she records them discussing vegetarianism.
1876 -The first Bayreuth Festival with Wagner directing. Lilli Lehmann played a Rhine Maiden. Karl Klindworth was also present.
1877 - GB Shaw's first, brief and anonymous, job in journalism, as music critic for The Hornet in London. In June he attended a concert at the Albert Hall with Wagner conducting his own music, reporting that he received 'tempestuous applause'.

1879 - Wagner was actively advocating anti-vivisection by this time.
1880 (October) - Wagner published 'Religion und Kunst (Religion and Art) ', in the Bayreuther Blätter - which included his promotion of vegetarianism.
- Mahler became vegetarian the same month.
1881 (January) - GB Shaw became vegetarian, apparently after reading Shelley at the British Museum, but was he also aware of the Wagner article?
- a group of young Wagnerian vegetarians were meeting in the Café Griensteidl, Vienna, among them Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf.
1882 - 2nd Bayreuth Festival, included the first performance of Parsifal with its anti-hunting scene. Hugo Wolf was present.
1883 - Death of Wagner in February. Cosima Wagner became the director at Bayreuth. Gustav Mahler attended that summer and saw Parsifal.
- Cecil Sharp in Australia (1882-92) working with a music society founded by Percy Grainger's father.
1884 - GB Shaw's first proper work as a music critic for a London newspaper. An early draft of his first play was called 'Rhinegold'.
1885 - GB Shaw started playing Wagner on the piano, probably from Klindworth's transcriptions which are still available.
1886 - Mahler conducted his first Wagner operas in Prague
- Romain Rolland, still astudent, write Tolstoy and received a lenghty reply.
Mid 1880s - Carl Friedberg and Leonard Borwick both students at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt.
1888 - Mahler was in Bayreuth for Parsifal and Die Meistersinger
(October) GB Shaw diary records reading Schopenhauer.
- (January) Mahler conducted Wagner at the Budapest opera.
- (August) GB Shaw's first visit to the Bayreuth Festival, resulting in four articles on Wagner for The World.
- (November) Mahler conducted the first performance of his 1st Symphony, in Budapest, including the anti-hunting funeral march.
- Romain Rolland influenced by Malwida von Meysenburg, a friend of Wagner and Neitzsche in Rome.
1890 - Albert Schweitzer, in his early teens, learned about Schopenhauer from a schoolmaster.
1891 - Mahler moved to the Hamburg opera, again starting with Wagner.
- GB Shaw reading Schopenhauer (continued the following year)
- Schweitzer went to his first Wagner opera, Tanhäuser in Stassbourg, which "overpowered me", and then went to all the others, except Parsifal which was only performed at Bayreuth.
- Romain Rolland at Bayreuth with Malwida von Meysenburg
1892 (June 12) GB Shaw mentioned meeting Cecil Sharp in his diary and that he knew Sharp quite well before he went to Australia.
- (July 13) Gustav Holst first heard Wagner at a concert in London conducted by Mahler. GB Shaw wrote a review.
1893 - Gustav Holst moved to London and joined the Hammersmith Socialist Society where GB Shaw was a speaker, and became vegetarian.
1894 - Percy Grainger, 12, reported to have visited his first vegetarian restaurant in Australia (unconfirmed).
- Karl Klindworth moved into the Eden vegetarian colony near Berlin and remained there for the last 20 years of his life.
- (June) Holst attended his second Wagner performance in London, again reviewed by GB Shaw.
- (July) GB Shaw at Bayreuth. His reports on this marked the end of his paid employment as a music critic, but his passion for Wagner continued.
- Mahler and Scriabin both reported to be reading Schopenhauer.
- Lilli Lehmann became vegetarian following influence from Klindworth.

1896 - Albert Schweitzer and GB Shaw both at the Bayreuth Festival, but unlikely to have known each. Lilli Lehmann played Brünhilde.
- Hugo Wolf set Byron poem to music
Late 1890s - Carl Friedberg teaching at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt; Cyril Scott , Percy Grainger and Herman Sandby all students there, Leonard Borwick had been ten years earlier.
1898 - GB Shaw wrote The Perfect Wagnerite as a commentary on the Ring Cycle.
- Carl Friedberg performed with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Mahler.
1899 - Alexander Scriabin 'became absorbed' by Wagner's music in Moscow.
1900 - Schweitzer lecturing on Schopenhauer in Paris.

1902 - Schoenberg symphonic poem inspired by Maeterlinck
- Cyril Scott vegetarian.
- Schoenberg became a Mahler enthusiast, following personal meetings.
- Isadora Duncan vegetarian
1904 - Isadora Duncan danced in Tanhauser at Bayreuth. Also reading Schopenhauer.
1905 - Schweitzer became a friend of Cosima Wagner while in Strasbourg.
- Romain Rolland wrote a biography of Hugo Wolf.
- Schweitzer and Rolland met in Paris, initally as musicians but became long-term friends.
- Scriabin traveled in western Europe and discovered theosophy (mostly vegetarian) and Eastern religions.
- Maud McCarthy went to India as a companion to Annie Besant (theosophist president).
1906 - Schweitzer at Bayreuth again, writing his book on Bach whilst there.
1907 - Cecil Sharp persuaded Gustav Holst to compose 'Somerset Rhapsody' using his collected folk tunes.
- Lilli Lehmann publicly supported Mahler on his departure from the Vienna Opera.
1908 - GB Shaw at Bayreuth again.
- Romain Rolland's Musicians of Today included sections on Wagner, Wolf and Schweitzer.
1909 - Cyril Scott's Handelian Rhapsody, dedicated to and edited by Percy Grainger.

1913 - Scriabin attended a vegetarian congress in Moscow.
- Cyril Scott visited Vienna at the invitation of Mahler's widow.

1915 - Albert Schweitzer developed his ethic 'Reverence for Life', influenced by Schopenhauer.
- Wagner's son married Karl Klindworth's adopted daughter after they met at Bayreuth. She had grown up in the Eden Vegetarian Colony.
- John Foulds married Maud McCarthy.
1916 - Cecil Sharp's diary made a specific reference to being vegetarian, but probably was a lot earlier.
1917 - Cyril Scott became friends with GB Shaw
1918 - Schweitzer helped Cosima Wagner with food supplies after the war.
- Phiroz Mehta running the Colombo branch of the Theosophical Society.

1923 - Albert Schweitzer published 'Civilization and Ethics' including his arguments for 'Reverence for Life'.
- Percy Grainger fully vegetarian, but had been heading towards it for many years.
- Schoenberg reported to be a theosophist (mostly vegetarians)
1925 - John Foulds wrote the music for GB Shaw's Saint Joan

1927 - Isadora Duncan's autobiography refers to Schopenhauer, Wagner, GB Shaw, Romain Rolland, and is praised by Percy Grainger.

1934/5 - John Cage studying with Schoenberg in California
- John & Maud Foulds and moved to India

1939 - Maud Foulds (nee McCarthy) became Swami Omananda Puri in India.
- Carl Friedberg reported vegetarian at the Juilliard Music School, New York.

1942 - Schoenberg set Byron poem to music

1946 - Percy Grainger, age 64, wrote article on 'How I Became A Meat-Shunner’ (his preferred term for vegetarian).

1949 - John Cage into all things Eastern and Zen Buddhism in particular.

1952 - Yehudi Menuhin's first visit to India where he met Ravi Shankar and encouraged him to perform in the west. Yehudi was vegetarian by this time.

1954 - Georg Tintner became vegan

1956 - Ravi Shankar moved to the west to perform and record classical Indian music.

1958 - Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar joint concert in London, but not playing together, just alternate pieces. .

1960 - Elly Ney, piano, Vladimir Ruzdac, baritone, and Gisela Litz, soprano. performed at the IVU Congress in Hamburg.

1965 -Philip Glass met Ravi Shankar for the first time in Paris, they were working on film music which was originally intended for jazz musician Ornette Coleman. Glass then went on to India and became vegetarian.
- Yehudi Menuhin recorded with Glenn Gould.

1966 - Ravi and Yehudi performed specially composed piece together at the Bath (England) festival and release 'East Meets West' album.

- Ingrid Fuzjko Hemming vegetarian

1991 - Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass record Passages