excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 14-15 (304 words)

excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 14-15 (304 words)

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Recollections of an old musician

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Playing in this new theatre was for me an agreeable change. It had, for those days, quite a sizable orchestra. The leader sat facing the stage, and was for a long time the only first violin. We had but one second violin, one viola, one contrabass, no violoncello, one flute, two clarinets, one fagott, two horns, a trumpet, a trombone, and drums. The kind and quality of music played would nowadays strike one as queer. It consisted of overtures, quadrilles, polkas, galops—in short, mostly dance music. There was a total absence of so-called popular music, if we except a few quicksteps and marches. There were no characteristic pieces such as figure on the programmes of today.

I well remember the first one we were asked to play. It was called the Matrimonial Galop. It was of ordinary construction, the only reason for its peculiar name being a sudden hold-up, where the drummer or leader, I forget which, blew into a little instrument that gave out a sound like the cry of a baby. That childish noise made the audience roar with delight, and we had to play it nightly. We poor musicians suffered ; but one night we had our revenge. The usual calls came from the audience—they wanted the baby-cry, but did not get it.  The machine crying-baby had vanished— it could not be found. Consternation reigned among those who wanted the people pleased, no matter how it was done. We tried to appease the audience by playing the galop; but when we came to the spot of spots, and there was no realistic baby-cry, but only a base imitation made on the fiddle, a howl of derision and rage went up, equal to anything ever heard in a menagerie. The disappointment was more than the audience could stand.

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excerpt from 'Recollections of an old musician' pp. 14-15 (304 words)


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