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From a Recent Email:

Milton Batter is Conductor of the Seattle Symphony. He is leading the final, Friday, rehearsal of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. There are several interruptions.

A leak in the roof above the podium allows an intermittent drip from the ever-dripping Seattle skies to fall on the conductor's podium. Batter reports it with annoyance to management who promise that the roofer will be there with tar pitch for a repair no later than Saturday morning, maybe even before the afternoon has passed.

A wealthy patron has brought a special guest to sit in on the rehearsal — a Count from Luxembourg, who fascinates the orchestra, even Batter, because he is so short of stature. Speculation begins about his actual height.

The members of the bass section get especially silly about the former question, and two of them are chronic rabble rousers who, during the time that Batter is out complaining about the roof leak, pass around their hip flasks of bourbon, rendering the whole bass section drunk. Batter is annoyed, and knowing who was behind it expels the two from the orchestra on the spot.

The orchestra breaks for lunch. The two expelled bassists, in revenge, sew together the last four pages of Batter's score, using dental floss and a hatpin. (The rehearsal will be resuming with the final movement after lunch.)

During lunch, someone brings the intelligence, discovered from the patron, that the Count is 3 feet two inches tall! And the good news comes that the roofer is on the way with the patching tar.

The rehearsal resumes after lunch. Batter, who usually sits on a stool to conduct during rehearsals, stands to lead the final movement.

So here is the situation:

It is the last of the ninth; the score is tied; Batter is up. The basses are loaded, with two out. The Count is 3-2, and the pitch is on the way!!!!

Milton Batter, Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, is leading the last rehearsal of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony one Friday when several interruptions occur.

A roof leak has caused an intermittent drip to fall on his podium from Seattle's sodden skies. Batter reports the annoyance to management, who promise to dispatch a roofer to make repairs with pitch no later than that afternoon, well before the symphony's evening concert.

Simultaneously, a wealthy patron has brought in a special guest to see that afternoon's rehearsal, a titled Count from Luxembourg who much fascinates the bass section because he is so obviously — and astonishingly — short. Naturally, speculation starts about the count's height.

Two members of the section get really silly about the matter. Chronic rabble-rousers both, they decide to pass hip flasks around while Batter is out complaining. Indeed, they render their entire section drunk. Knowing who is behind the ruckus, Batter on return decides to expel these two on the spot.

When the symphony breaks for lunch, they then secretly scheme to stitch together the last pages of Batter's score in revenge, using dental floss and a hatpin. They know his rehearsal will be starting up after lunch with Beethoven's concluding movement.

Over lunch someone then produces the intelligence (just discovered from the patron) that the Count is precisely 3 feet 2 inches tall, as well as the news that a local roofer has been dispatched with the pitch.

Finally, Batter decides that, though he usually conducts afternoon rehearsals sitting, today he would more joyfully, and dryly, conduct Beethoven's great last movement standing.

So here is the situation:

It is the last of The Ninth; the score is tied; Batter is up. The basses are loaded, with two out. The Count is 3-2, and the pitch is on the way!

Back to For the Mind's Ear: On the Harmonies of Style

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