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HEART OF TWO: the friendships between famous people

HEART OF TWO: the friendships between famous people
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Photo: Rodney Smith. Greg and Colin photographing each other in a field, Alberta, Canada, 2004


The ability to feel yourself and another person and respond to their feelings is a necessity in today’s world and the basis for a successful and spiritually rich life. Emotional intelligence has previously been proven to be an important factor in building long-lasting friendships. Narcissistic personalities cannot boast of good long-term friendships.

Friends offer a different view of the world, share emotions, and serve as a kind of optics to illuminate certain phenomena in life. By listening to and adapting to each other, we develop empathy and learn the world from different perspectives.

Friendships are also an essential resource for objective self-esteem. Famous people are no exception.

We have collected the most striking examples of friendship between famous people.



Rock star Freddie Mercury had a dream: to hear his idol Luciano Pavarotti sing. In 1983, he went to the Royal Opera House in London, where he first felt the power of Montserrat Caballé’s voice in Verdi’s opera «The Masquerade Ball». As Mercury would later recall, he sat still while the opera diva’s incomparable bel canto sounded.

Biographers of the rock musician later noted that it was from that time he listened to only one music — the incomparable Montserrat Caballé. Rocker, to the end of his days, considered the native of Barcelona the best performer of all time.

In an interview with Spanish television on 31 July 1986, he made it clear that it was his dream to sing a duet with Caballé. This rumor reached the opera diva and got her interested. They saw each other for the first time at the Ritz Hotel in Barcelona to discuss the details of preparations for the Olympics-92. The rock musician and the opera diva were supposed to prepare a song for the opening of this glorious event.

They instantly developed a deep respect for each other, and their hearts beat in unison. Each of them later described the meeting as fateful. It seemed to them that they had known each other for a thousand years. This meeting was the beginning of their sincere friendship.


HEART OF TWO: the friendships between famous people
Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe /


Montserrat Caballé recalled: «Freddie turned to me and said: I have a present for you, a composition called Exercises In Free Love. Would you be so kind as to perform it when you have time, anywhere, even in the bathroom. The song sounded pianissimo and very, very melodic. And I took the score he handed me to perform the piece in the future».

When the opera diva asked Freddie Mercury for a special gift — a song about her hometown — the world saw «Barcelona», the future anthem of the Olympics. They met repeatedly at the rock star’s flat and talked until the morning. For the sake of these conversations, Montserrat neglected her sleep schedule. She was the first Freddie Mercury told about his incurable disease — AIDS.

On 8 October 1988, they sang at the La Nit festival, organized to mark the passing of the Olympic torch. Three songs — «Barcelona» among them — were included in their joint album. Unfortunately, due to the passing of the legendary Freddie Mercury, the friends were never lucky enough to perform the anthem at the opening of the Olympics-92. «It is impossible to replace Freddie with anybody!» — Montserrat told organizers. The song was played in a recording.




American writers Ernest Hemingway and Francis Scott Fitzgerald were true legends. Almost to their deaths, they were linked by friendship. About it, biographer Matthew Bruccoli wrote in his book «Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship», published in 1994.

What did they have in common, other than the similar families in which they were both raised? Each of the writers led a destructive lifestyle. The only difference was that at a time when Fitzgerald’s career was winding down due to his addictions, Hemingway was just beginning to spread his creative wings.

This friendship was both sincere and strange. Already famous, Fitzgerald listened to Hemingway in everything and soon could not get along without him. Hemingway, however, was often ashamed of his friend, who had to bail him out of various troubles.

«His talent was as natural as the pattern of pollen on a butterfly’s wings. At one time, he didn’t realize it any more than the butterfly did and didn’t notice how the pattern wiped off and faded. Later, he realized that his wings were damaged, understood how they were arranged and learned to think, but he could no longer fly because the love of flying had disappeared, and all that remained in his memory was how easy it had once been for him to fly…» — these lines Hemingway wrote about Fitzgerald after his death.


HEART OF TWO: the friendships between famous people
Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway /


They met in a café in Paris. After another drink, the author of the successful novel «The Great Gatsby» had already suggested to the author of the then-only small collection of short stories «In Our Time» to go on an adventurous trip to Lyon to pick up a car. On this trip, they stopped to drink under every tree along the way.

They both had their own «demons»: Fitzgerald was drinking and completely ceased to control himself in such a state, Hemingway could not cope with marital turmoil and preferred to close his eyes to the problems in the relationship, changing wives.

They interjected, responding to each other in their writings. Sometimes, they were rather harsh jabs. «I was beginning to get bored with this literary life. I was very bored with Scott and all this silly comedy», wrote Ernest Hemingway in his memoir, «The Holiday that is always with you».

And yet, the friendship continued. Critic Fitzgerald subtly and delicately added some important remarks in the novel «A Farewell to Arms!» According to literary scholars, these edits contributed to the formation of Ernest Hemingway’s style. They introduced each other to the right people and rejoiced in their successes.

Unfortunately, Fitzgerald’s drinking was the reason why the friends stopped seeing each other often. Shortly before his death, the latter counted the number of their meetings with Hemingway. «Four times in 11 years. Since the 26th year, in fact, no longer friends», he wrote in his diary.



Famous singer and composer, author of the first national opera, «Zaporozhets Beyond the Danube», Semen Stepanovych Hulak-Artemovsky was one of the most loyal and devoted friends of Taras Shevchenko.

Even the music to the text of the folk song «A Sycamore Tree Stands Over the Water», first performed in the performance «Moskal-magician», Hulak-Artemovsky posthumously dedicated to his friend. The dedication is written on the title page of the 1860 edition of the song. The melody, which was born in one of the musical evenings in St. Petersburg, became his favorite song.

Shevchenko writes very tenderly about his friend in his diaries: «About three o’clock, I returned home and hugged my heartfelt Semen Artemovsky. And after half an hour, I was already in his house, like in my own home. We remembered and talked about a lot of things, and even more, we could not remember or talk about. Two hours passed by faster than one minute».

During Taras Shevchenko’s exile, a friend took care of him, repeatedly sending financial aid. He tried to do it very delicately, convincing him that he was just returning the money for the pictures painted by Kobzar. Once, he said that this money was a gift from an unknown benefactor who cared about the fate of the exile.


HEART OF TWO: the friendships between famous people
Semen Gulak-Artemovsky and Taras Shevchenko /


«Is there such a great soul — which would have recalled me in the distant captivity… There are no such great souls in the world now. Yours is the only one left, and it sang a poem so heartfelt that I still read it and cry. You are a great poet!» — Taras Shevchenko wrote. Obviously, he realized that Semen Hulak-Artemovsky was helping him.

First of all, released from exile in 1857, Shevchenko hurried to St. Petersburg to meet his friend. Every day, they gathered at the composer’s flat, arranged literary and musical evenings, stayed up late, and even sang a duet. Hulak-Artemovsky noted that Shevchenko had a very strong voice and the number of folk songs that he knew could envy any choir.

The friendship between them continued until the last days of Taras Shevchenko’s life. After the funeral, Semen Hulak-Artemovsky organized a charity concert to collect help for his friend’s family. That sad evening, he performed Shevchenko’s favorite song.

But it seems that his sadness never went away again — after all, Hulak-Artemovskyi was one of those who perfectly understood what genius Ukraine had lost.


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