Thursday, July 25, 2013

Story time....and the conductor was.....

That sweat-drenched face was bearing down upon us like the archangel of vengeance himself as we almost disemboweled ourselves with feverish effort. Then suddenly, a spine-chilling wail:
"Pi-a-a-a-n-o-o! Bassi! Contrabassi! You grunt away like pigs! You sound as if you were scratching your bellies--szshrump! szshrump!" he would bellow, while, tearing at his clothes, he viciously pantomimed the scratching. "Corpo del vostro Dio! PI-A-A-NO!"

"But Maestro," a player would sometimes protest in a small, hesitant, and resentful voice. "My part is printed 'forte.' "

"What you say?" the Old Man would growl menacingly, unbelievingly, distracted for the moment from his tirade.

"It says 'forte,' " the player would reply, this time in an even smaller, more apologetic voice.

"What? Forte? FORTE?" with an air of incredulity. "What means 'forte'? Ignorante! Is a stupid word--as stupid as you! Is a thousand fortes--all kinds of fortes. Sometimes forte is pia-a-a-no, piano is forte! Accidenti! [Damn it!] You call yourself a musician? O, per Dio santissimo! You play here in THIS orchestra? In a village cafe house you belong! You don't listen to what others play. Your nose in the music--szshrump! szshrump! You hear nothing! You cover up the oboe solo! One poor oboe--one!--and you szshrump! szshrump! Where are your ears? Look at me! Contra-ba-a-ss-i!" in a long,
drawn-out wail. "Tutti! Tutti! Vergogna! [Shame!]"

Samuel Antek, _This Was Toscanini_, 1963

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