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The Tuning of the World.

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Many years ago I came across this quote by a famous German Renaissance composer and theorist. I was taken by his eminently practical, even modern, attitude.

“A player may play on his instrument with this or that fingering, in this or that manner, he may even help along with his nose on the fingerboard; what matters in the end is the music produced.”  –Michael Praetorius, 1620

Years later I read the famous anecdote of Mozart’s nose.

“At an evening party, Mozart bet a case of champagne that Haydn could not play at sight a piece he had composed that afternoon. Haydn accepted the bet and proceeded to play it on harpsichord only to stop short after the first few bars. It was impossible to continue because the composition required him to simultaneously strike notes at two ends of the keyboard and a note in the very center. Haydn exclaimed, ‘Nobody can play this with only two hands.’

‘I can,’ Mozart said, and took his place at the keyboard. When he reached that problematic portion of his piece, Mozart bent forward and struck the central note with his nose. Haydn conceded saying: ‘With a nose like yours, it becomes easier.'”                        

–E. Van de Velde, Anecdotes Musicales

In the course of browsing the internet I came upon the pianist, Amy Briggs, performing “Schnozzage,” piano étude #22, by David Rakowski. I wrote to her, including the Praetorius quote, and we had a good chuckle. Plus ça change.

And the beat goes on.


If you have questions, comments, or reminiscences, please let me know. I love to talk and write and would enjoy hearing from you.

Those who have sold their soul to the devil and practice Internet Worship may email me at “curt at bouterse dot com”

– modified to perhaps filter out the less intelligent spammers.

Never lose the heart of the beginner, not even occasionally, not even in old age.


Those of a more tactile bent or calligraphically inclined may write me at: PO Box 84025 San Diego 92138