From Bach to Brahms—a Winner-Take-All Competition


Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano, Opus 40-Minutes-Or-Less

Attending a concert mid locals and academicians,
We were instructed to welcome Chicago’s famed Chamber Musicians,
Then we watched as just one old guy sauntered on stage, all alone—
Except for a small violin (or is that a viPhone?)
With which he proceeded to play us a big batch o’ Bach
Which took 20 minutes—I know; I was watching the clock.
I’m not kidding: he battled that Bach for at least 20 min., at a minimum;
I’d never have guessed that old Bach had that much fight left inimum.
But he licked him, I’ll tell you—old Bach and the rest of his breed—
And the wild applause said the audience fully agreed.
Yup, he b’roque him, I’ll tell you—he put that old Bach in his place…
But the dwindling applause said, “You won, now; so…back in its case.”

So he slumped off the stage in a funk and at once was replaced
By a hornist and pianist; onto the rostrum they raced—
But not quickly enough, cuz that fiddler tagged close on their heel—
Oblivious, he, “two’s a company; three’s…” a third wheel.
But since all were together, they mustered a “Trio” by Berk-e-ley,
Which, consid’ring their chem’stry, to no one’s surprise began jerkily,
But after two movements they finally got things sorted out
And played a short Tema tat told what te ting was about.
And variations! From ’llegro to lento and back—thirty pages!
Even one gave the horn a glissando—that’s one for the ages!
But she had to keep constantly dumping her instrument’s spit;
I thought, “When that fiddler starts dumping out HIS, then…that’s it.”

Then, post-intermission, the hornist and pianist again
Sneaked out on stage…HA! Without him, that darned violin!
And they played us a Nocturne the hornist herself had commissioned
(Which means the composer could only write notes she’d permissioned).
She played great—and by heart: when a student got out of his seat,
She glared at him up the whole aisle without missing a beat.
When at last it was done, the violinist found out he’d been tricked;
He demanded a trio by Brahms—hoping pain to inflict
On the two who’d excluded him. Candidly, I can report
That he and the horn seemed to be in a tiff of some sort:
The violin violently venting about this and that—
Then the hornist in kind, in this tart tête à tête tit for tat.

But again, she just had to keep voiding her gadget of spits,
Which gave Igor the fiddler-man chances for unchallenged smits.
(She’d pull two slides at once, and I wondered how bad Brahms would sound
If by accident she were to put those slides back upside down….)
But anyway, all of the fiddler’s and hornist’s abusings
Could be heard ’gainst the unbroken backdrop of musical musings
Of their high-handed, mid-handed, low-handed pianist-friend,
Who seemed not to care which co-worker would win in the end.
The skirmishes rose to a high-fevered pitch—very high;
And the outcome, you ask…?? It was—very exciting!—a tie!
The fans—ah, the audience—hurriedly got up to go…
You ask why? Well, a tie always goes to the runner, you know.

                                                                —Opus 40nymous