“I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.”
– Max Reger (German organist and composer, 1873–1916)
[Ich sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe Ihre Kritik vor mir. Im nächsten Augenblick wird sie hinter mir sein. Source: the marvellous Lexicon of Musical Invective by Nicolas Slonimsky.]
Reger's letter was in response to a dismissive review by Rudolf Lewis (Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, 7 February 1906) who, writing of Reger's new Sinfonietta, said "its tonal language essentially depends on conjuring up the illusion of significance by a thousand contrapuntal tricks" and referred to "the unpleasant sensation that someone, placing full faith in the psychological phenomenon of suggestive power, is taking us for fools."
But Reger wasn't the first to use this neat turn of euphemism – the
earliest attribution (with "letter" or "missive "rather than "review")
goes to Voltaire. Nor was he the last, apparently this handy retort may
have been picked up by Noel Coward and even Sir Winston Churchill.