Music: Humor

2 minute read

People who lack music often complain that music lacks humor. Such people never grasp witty music, the intentioned epigrams of Ravel and Scriabine, of that deft and revered knight, Sir Arthur Sullivan. They can understand performers who make fun of serious music, burlesquing well-known classics, but how performers can, without irreverence, have fun with music these complainers cannot see. Few such gentry were in the Cleveland audience which last week heard a drunken Russian cab driver conduct the Volga boat-song. Nicolai Sokolov, Cleveland Orchestra conductor, famed interpreter of the Russians, had just directed his orchestra through an all-Tchaikovsky program that ranged from a tuneful bonbon for fatigued capitalists (the Sleeping Beauty Waltz) to the rounded maturity of the Fourth Symphony—all played magnificently. When the concert was over, 100 guests remained, having been notified of a “Concert by a Visiting Orchestra —Sokolai Nikoloffsky, conductor.” The program: I. Echoes from Home, song of Vulgar Vodka; II. Well-Tampered Prelude to Act III, Lohengrin; III. World Debut in America of Josepha Fuchsia, violiniste, in an Old Time Concerto by Vieuxtemps; IV. War Dance, Skilton-Coolefske. At the conclusion of the second number, Conductor Sokolai Nikoloffsky flourished his dirty pink coat sleeves, grimaced, leaped in air. From the wings came the first violinist, in female apparel, to reproduce the temperamental repining of a neurotic soloist. Then the bandsmen, some with red wigs, some with green beards, followed the leader (who wore full Indian war feathers) in a martial composition drawn from 17 tabulated sources.

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