Called to the bars

September 19, 2013

The lawyers who really did jack it all in for a music career

Photo: The Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Shutterstock











Music and the law might seem very different, but there are a surprising number of musicians and composers who began either studying or working in law.

While we may have lost some good lawyers, we’ve gained some great music.

Here’s our faves.

1. David Rowntree, the drummer from Blur, is now a solicitor with all the other girls and boys at Kingsley Napley.

2. George Frideric Handel started at law school at the University of Halle to please his father. After a year, he decided that life would be better if he pleased himself and opted for music instead. Hallelujah.

3. Paul Simon dropped out of Brooklyn Law School after one semester and into musical history with old friend Art Garfunkel. He met him down by the schoolyard. Probably.

4. Ray Manzarek tuned in, turned on and dropped out of his law course at UCLA, switched to study film, where he met Jim Morrison, loved him madly and formed The Doors.

5. Igor Stravinsky was supposed to study law at the University of Saint Petersburg, but attended less than 50 classes during his four years as a student there. The big skiver. Biggest hit: Rites of Spring. Biggest miss: Most of his law lectures.

6. Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II quit Columbia Law School to focus on theatre and music. Everybody sing now: “I am sixteen, going on seventeen billable hours a day.”

7. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. From working for Russia’s rather unpassionate sounding Ministry of Justice to writing the very passionate sounds of the 1812 Overture.

8. Jean Sibelius. To please his family, Sibelius began studying law at the University of Helsinki (in those days known as the Imperial Alexander University of Finland), however, his love of music distracted him from his legal studies, so he changed courses. 

Very Finnish, but as many listeners have pointed out, often doesn’t Finnish soon enough. KW

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