This is the 600th Blog Nostalgic Italian post! In celebration of this, I wanted to share a joke that made me laugh out loud. It comes from one of the blogs that I follow on Word Press – The Joke Thief. You can read and follow here:
Death in the Orchestra
Everyone knew the name of the Fredrick Von Liszt, accepted as the world’s greatest arranger of classical music of the modern world. Everyone also knew of his terrible temper as a symphony conductor. Nearly every member of every orchestra he had ever led was a target of his wrath sooner or later. His barbed tongue was as almost as quick and painful as his blazing eyes should any player make the slightest mistake. Nor was the unpredictable conductor above physical violence, having destroyed a promising young violinist’s delicate instrument over his equally delicate head, and even stopping a special performance of the famed soprano Maria Montecello to slap her face, commanding, “Back to the opera where you belong!”
It came as no surprise then when tragedy struck the orchestra. Von Liszt had berated the first seat bassoonist through every practice about his late entry in the third movement. Again and again, the conductor had screamed at the bassoonist, shaking his baton like a club at the poor man, and threatening him. “I shall kill you!” yelled Von Liszt. “If you ruin my performance, I shall kill you!” Of course, this made the musician so nervous on opening night that he was late in the third movement. The audience was shocked as the conductor shrieked like a wild beast and threw his baton directly at the bassoonist. Sadly, it struck the musician in the eye and killed him immediately. The performance was stopped, and Von Liszt was arrested.
The trial was short as there were several hundred witnesses to the poor bassoonist’s murder. The orchestra was unanimous in reporting Von Liszt’s threat to kill the musician. The famed soprano Maria Montecello spoke emotionally about the conductor’s mad and violent nature. Von Liszt himself seemed scornful of the proceeding, and glared in turn at the prosecutor, the judge and the jury, as if to dare them to judge him. They did just that, and quickly found him guilty of murder in the first degree, with the judge allowing the death penalty called for by the jury (and nearly all those in the court). While the papers decried the barbaric use of the electric chair in that jurisdiction, most readers who knew Von Liszt thought it fair treatment.
Von Liszt understood his position and maintained his composure in the court and later in prison. He waived his right to an appeal and even requested a speedy execution. When the priest asked if he was remorseful, the conductor merely laughed. “That man got was he deserved,” replied Von Liszt. “He didn’t belong in the orchestra.” Then he waived the priest away and began humming a new arrangement he had begun while incarcerated.
The night before his execution came, and Von Liszt was asked for his last meal request. The jailer was confused when he was asked to bring only three bananas and a large glass of milk. When asked to repeat the request, the conductor merely yelled at him, “You heard me! Bring me what I asked for!” His last, unusual meal was brought to his cell, and he seemed to enjoy it immensely.
In the morning, he was brought to the electric chair. As he was strapped in, the observers hoped for some break in the great man’s composure. The famed soprano Maria Montecello has gotten special permission to attend and watched the conductor closely for any sign of fear or weakness. But Von Liszt barely noticed them, humming to himself and smiling as he waited. The signal was given. The executioner threw the switch. Nothing happened. The equipment was quickly reset and again the switch was activated. Again, nothing happened. Von Liszt spit out his mouthpiece and asked, “Having difficulties?” The guards quickly unstrapped him and took him back to his cell.
The warden and governor decided together to reschedule the execution after thoroughly inspecting the electric chair, its wiring, components and controls. After they were satisfied, a new date for Von Liszt’s execution was announced. The night before, the prisoner was again asked for his second last meal request. As before, he ordered three bananas and a large glass of milk.
The next day, along with the previous observers, there was an electrician, several technicians and a special executioner’s assistant present to observe all. As before, Von Liszt showed little emotion, except his usual disdain. The signal was given again. The executioner threw the switch again. And again, nothing happened. The technical specialists swarmed to the equipment, searching for a reason for failure, but could find nothing. The executioner’s assistant verified that the procedure had been followed exactly.
The warden and the governor had to postpone the execution again, this time until a new replacement electric chair and peripherals could be purchased, installed and tested. Both men swore that Von Liszt would not escape justice again.
Once the new equipment was ready, the warden himself went to tell Von Liszt of his execution scheduled for the next day. When the prisoner asked for his usual last meal of three bananas and a glass of milk, the warden denied him. “Oh, no!” the warden exclaimed. ”No bananas for you! I’m not sure how, but that’s somehow connected to why this keeps failing.” When the prisoner was later brought nothing but water, he sneered at the jailer, calling him a “barbarian.”
On the morning of his third execution, Von Liszt was exceptionally cranky. He complained bitterly of not getting his last request for bananas and milk. The warden and the governor nodded to each other knowingly. The prisoner was strapped to the electric chair yet again. The executioner was given the signal. He threw the switch and … nothing happened. A collective groan went out from the observation room. The executioner began to curse loudly. And the warden looked stunned. He walked over the prisoner and removed his mouthguard. “The bananas didn’t have anything to do with it?” he asked Von Liszt. “Of course not!” Von Liszt answered. “I’m just a bad conductor.”
When I got to the punchline, I immediately thought of my friend, and high school band director, Tom Shaner. This is exactly the kind of joke that he would have got a kick out of! A long set up to a groaner punchline! I wish he were still around to share this with him.