Quite a number of years ago, the Seattle Symphony was doing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony under the baton of Milton Katims. Now at this point, you must understand two things:
There's a quite long segment in this symphony where the basses don't have a thing to do. Not a single note for page after page.
There used to be a tavern called Dez's 400, right across the street from the Seattle Opera House, rather favored by local musicians. It had been decided that during this performance, once the bass players had played their parts in the opening of the symphony, they were to quietly lay down their instruments and leave the stage, rather than sit on their stools looking and feeling dumb for twenty minutes. Well, once they got backstage, someone suggested that they trot across the street and have a few beers.
After they had downed the first couple rounds, one said, "Shouldn't we be getting back? It'd be awfully embarrassing if we were late."
Another, presumably the one who suggested this excursion in the first place, replied, "Oh, I anticipated we could use a little more time, so I tied a string around the last pages of the conductor's score. When he gets to that point, Milton's going to have to slow the tempo way down while he waves the baton with one hand and fumbles with the string with the other."
So they had another round, and finally returned to the Opera house, a little tipsy by now. However, as they came back on stage, one look at their conductor's face told them they were in serious trouble. Katims was furious! After all...
It was the bottom of the Ninth,
the bassists were loaded,
and the score was tied.
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