The Second Violinist had just struck the Piccolo player with a harp. In fairness, it was not an unprovoked attack. The Piccolo player had been aggressively prodding the Second Violinist in the stomach with a small instrument resembling a flute. However, this having not achieved the level of satisfaction expected, the Piccolo player had taken a drumstick from the Drummer and struck the Violinist on the nose.
Meanwhile, a Bassoon player was engaged in a heated argument with the Tenor and Baritone, while the Pianist - a renowned artist invited especially for the occasion - was nursing bruised fingers after having them shut in the keyboard by the Glockenspiel girl.
The Great Conductor just stood there. He had his back to us, so we could not see His face. Did it express anger, or sadness? We could not tell.
I sat awestruck, watching these professional musicians fighting and bickering. "What is wrong with them?" I asked myself. "Why are they behaving this way?"
The Piccolo player picked up the bass drum with the help of two Oboe players and the lady who played the Clarinet. They lifted it high into the air, and then brought it down with a thud onto the head of the Third Violinist. As the First Violinist rushed over, the lady with the clarinet threw a cymbal through the air like a discus, and struck him across the forehead. He fell to the ground and did not move.
The Tacomonian snatched a wood block from a Percussionist and threw it at the clarinet.
"Woodwind are like the bad breath of a camel." The Second Violinist yelled. "The Music was composed for strings only - mainly violin its true, but double bass and viola if necessary - but not for woodwind. Flutes are a corruption of the melody. And that piccolo! They are an abhorrence."
The Clarinet retorted "YOU are the abhorrence. You distort the music. Your interpretation - that you claim exists for strings - is a fabrication. Lies, Lies Lies. There is only one instrument capable of the sweetness and lightness of The Music, and that is the clarinet. You speak of music but you know only of noise."
I was astonished. I thought the idea of an orchestra was to work together - to bring The Music to life. It was unbelievable that the Great Conductor’s orchestra - albeit made of the different types of musician - would be so intolerant of each other.
"You both should just go." Said the Head Trombone. "We, the brass, WE are the only ones who understand The Music. We are the power of The Music. We are the Glory of The Music. Woodwinds just whistle and skip round like gnats about a river. And you strings, you whine and moan and tug at the heart strings but you are empty of pomp, and of royalty. You play The Music like a pop song, instead of a Hymn to the Great Conductor."
I began to understand.
"They all think they are the ONLY valid players," I thought. "The brass think that THEY ALONE can play The Music. So also with the String section. AND the woodwinds."
It was at this point that the Cellist had picked up his cello, and with a cry had brought it straight across the wooden support that held the brass section. A quivering mass of trumpets, trombones, cornets and French horns crashed onto the Cellist, his cello crushed.
The other members of the string section cheered. "He gave his instrument for The Music", they cried. Some chanted "Mu-zic. Mu-zic. Mu-zic".
Suddenly, one of the Cornet players rushed into the audience and struck several members with a fluglehorn. "Let the audience know how The Music is being desecrated by the Non-Brass." He screamed.
The Piccolo was now in some difficulty, since the Harpist had entangled his head in her harp. He was just beginning to turn a rather unattractive shade of puce when the little man who played the triangle from the percussion section pulled the strings apart to release him.
The Triangle man (what else should I call him?) then called out to all those busily engaged in symphonic warfare.
"Stop. Stop this barbarity", he cried.
But they did not stop. They continued to throw insults (and instruments) at each other.
He tried again.
"In the name of The Music. In the name of the Great Conductor, STOP!"
They halted, almost instantly, distracted by the reference to the "Great Conductor".
The Triangle man took the advantage.
"You, Trombonist", he called. "Can you play the cello?"
"I would not wish to" the Cellist cried indignantly.
"That is not what I asked you. Could you play the cello? " he asked again.
The Cellist confessed that he could not.
"Could you, Piccolo man", he asked " could you play the harp?".
The Piccolo man, who had been first struck and then strangled by it, looked alarmed at the thought.
"No." he gurgled.
"The Great Conductor", said the Triangle man, "has given to you those instruments to which you are best suited. He has provided The Parts for which you are best suited. He has judged your skills, and your interests, and given to you that which is most suitable TO you. But this does not INVALIDATE the other parts!
"You each maintain that YOU alone play The Real Music, that only you alone can do it justice. I tell you that EACH have their part to play. I tell you that it is the the rhythm, melody, harmony, form, and so on that combine together to be The Real Music."
He paused, then "The Great Conductor KNOWS that individually, you make some pleasing sounds and some nice distractions, but that only by playing TOGETHER can the richest of music - The Music - result."
I listened to this little man, amazed. He was obviously right. I could see it. . But the others were not convinced.
"How can BOTH the String AND the woodwind both play the True Music?" asked the Oboe player.
They are different - in sound, in texture. Even the notes are different!"
"There are red flowers and blue flowers - do you say one is true and the other mockery?" asked the Triangle man. "The smell of the sea air pleases one man, where the smell of the mountains may please another but can smell be said to be bad?"
Some of the musicians were still looking a little doubtful. The Tenor looked at the Baritone, then at the Triangle man.
"Do you mean that we should accept the brass as -" he falter for a moment. "As different but still valid?" he asked.
"Yes." Said the Triangle man.
The Tacomonian picked up his tacomon and swore at the Triangle man.
"You speak sacrilege of The Music. I, alone, know the Great Conductor’s mind. I, alone, play The Music. You squeak and twang and honk. I shall go and not be soiled by you." He said, and left.
The Great Conductor then turned to the audience, and we could see he was smiling slightly.
"Good thing," said the Great Conductor, "that the world’s religions don’t behave this way. Isn’t it!"