The Musician Who Was So Good, He Had to be Evil

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) was more than a violin virtuoso; he was one of the best violinists of all time. By the time he was in his 20's, he was known throughout Europe. His command of the violin was so complete, in fact, that rumors quickly spread that such ability was not humanly possible and that... Continue Reading →


A Classical Composition about Classic Caffeine Compulsion

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is primarily known as a classical composer of Christian music. It was rare that he strayed from religious themes in his music, but when he did it was for a purpose. One such occasion was when he wrote "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" ("Be still, Stop Chattering"), a composition devoted to coffee... Continue Reading →

How Low Can You Go?

The organ at the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium in Atlantic City, New Jersey is an record-setting mechanism. Guinness World Records has three entries dedicated to it: With an estimated 33,116 pipes, it is the largest pipe organ ever constructed. These pipes are located in eight different chambers throughout the Auditorium. The organ's main console is the biggest in... Continue Reading →

This Tree Leaves Tunes

Fans of BBC's Doctor Who might think they have encountered earth's answer to the Singing Towers of Darillium when they visit Lancashire in the United Kingdom. Unlike that fictional place, where the Doctor and his wife spent their last night together, and where reservations have to be made four years in advance, this place is open to... Continue Reading →

Tuning the Helicopters

Musical instruments can be costly, and any band student who has had to lug a tuba or bell set on a school bus knows they can be unwieldy, too. The Sousaphone or cello is nothing, however, compared to the principal instruments in  Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Helikopter-Streichquartett" -- four operational and flying helicopters. "Helikopter-Streichquartett" (German for "Helicopter String... Continue Reading →

Which Record Holds the Record for the World’s Worst Record?

Teenage tragedy songs were popular in the 1950's and 1960's. With one song, in particular, the greatest tragedy about it is the three and one-half minutes of your life you wasted while listening to it that you will never get back.  In 1965 Jimmy Cross recorded "I Want My Baby Back." It tells the sad... Continue Reading →

Is it Appropriate to Say, “Break a Leg” Before Performing This Song?

Oswald Melichar composed "The Dog Polka" in 1852. The inspiration for this piano solo was, according to Melichar, "the falling down of a favorite lap dog from a table and thereby breaking his leg." Melichar, who also composed such memorable ditties as "Table Moving Schottischeems" and "Saloon Polka", seemed most excited about Part 4 of... Continue Reading →

God Save the King — and Please Hurry Him Along!

Spectators at the Rathenau railway station in Brandenberg, Germany on February 9, 1909 hoped to get a chance to see England's King Edward VII. They got a bit more than they hoped for -- specifically, a chance to hear the British national anthem, "God Save the King" played 16 or 17 times, while His Majesty... Continue Reading →

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