David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Tempi, Travel

Tempi

• Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler took the tempo of Wagner’s Ring cycle quicker than the London Philharmonic Orchestra was used to, and this almost led to a triangle player not performing. In Rheingold, triangle player Charlie Turner had a long wait before he played, so he used to disappear into a nearby bar while keeping a close eye on the time so he could get back to the orchestra and play. One night, the members of the orchestra were getting quite worried because Mr. Turner had still not made an appearance with only a few bars to go. Suddenly, they heard running footsteps. Just in time, the door to the orchestra pit opened and a hand reached out and struck the triangle, and then disappeared again. The next day, Mr. Turner had his stopwatch out, timing the faster-tempo music to make sure that he would arrive at the pit with time to spare.

• Alexandra Danilova was getting ready to dance in Cimarosiana one night when a good-looking, well-dressed man said to her, “Good evening. What tempo will you be dancing tonight?” She replied, “I’m sorry. I don’t talk to strangers, and I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.” While dancing on stage, she saw the man again — he was conducting the orchestra. Thomas Beecham, who was supposed to conduct, was ill, and so this man — Malcolm Sargent — had filled in for him. Ms. Danilova says that Mr. Sargent set a “perfect” tempo for her.

• While Jimmy Stein and other members of the band were playing Latin American music in a restaurant, a waiter grabbed the maracas and started shaking them — out of tempo. Mr. Stein stopped playing and asked the waiter, “What do you think you’re doing?” The waiter said that he always played the marimbas during Latin American music, but Mr. Stein told him, “Not with my instruments, you don’t.” As the waiter was leaving, Mr. Stein called after him, “I don’t come into your kitchen and play with your bloody knives and forks, do I?”

Travel

• After a long night of traveling, soprano Adelina Patti stopped at 5 a.m. for a few hours rest in Warsaw. Unfortunately, at 6 a.m. what sounded like a racket to the tired soprano broke out next door as someone began to play a piano. Outraged, Ms. Patti sent a servant to ask the noise-maker to stop playing the piano — at least until 8 a.m. The noise-maker stopped, and Ms. Patti’s husband, the Marquise de Caux, sent his card to him in thanks. A moment later, the noise-maker himself appeared at Ms. Patti’s door to ask politely about her. The famous soprano and her husband were shocked to learn that the noise-maker was the eminent pianist Hans von Bülow.

• After soprano Marjorie Lawrence appeared as Brünnhilde in St. Louis, she left the theater in full costume and makeup because her train was scheduled to leave quickly. Unfortunately, even though she left the theater and went to the train station right away, the train pulled out just as she reached the station. Therefore, she was driven to the next train stop, where — still wearing her Brünnhilde makeup and costume — she boarded the wrong car. Walking through several cars until she reached her car, she startled the passengers, and one person called out, “It must be a holdup!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

The Funniest People in Music: Buy the Paperback

The Funniest People in Music: Kindle

The Funniest People in Music: Kobo

The Funniest People in Music: Buy in Other Formats, Including PDF