Royal Festival Hall Concert

(sound of orchestra tuning their instruments and people walking about)

Anouncer (Michael Palin): Good eveing, welcome to the Festival Hall for the first of three concerts given by Emile Gilbert to celebrate the one hundred thirty first anniversary of the birth of Tchaikovsky. (orchestra stops tuning and all is quiet) Gilbert starts tonight with Tchaikovsky's Contezana Padoano

(We hear an orchestra playing the haunting melody. A single violin joins in playing almost a solo. All of a sudden we hear the sound of someone crushing something wooden)

Announcer: Oh dear Gilbert has trodden on his violin. He has put his foot through the bridge and sat on the sound post. Is he going to attempt to finish the piece? I think he is. He has picked up the sound case and the finger board of this beautiful seventeenth century instrument actually made by Nicola Amati at Cremona and he is trying to wedge them under his chin. (We hear Gilbert trying to play again but after a few notes another cruching sound) But no, no, it's no good.

(sound of hands clapping)

Announcer: The applause you can hear now is because the leader of the Orchestra is going over to Gilbert to lend him his own violin. By no means less than Gilbert's. It is in fact a Stradivarius. So this is a very sporting gesture. And now Gilbert prepares once again to play Tchaikovsky's Contezana Padoano.

(The orcestra starts up again and again we hear the sound of a lone violinist, followed by yet another crunching sound)

Announcer: Oh dear the ends come off. He has caught the peg box in one of the uprights of his music stand and in trying to get it out with his ear he has completely snapped off the finger board. What a pity. I have certainly never seen this happen before in the Festival Hall and the leader of the Orcestra is not looking very pleased. In fact he's punched Gilbert in the face. There's a bit of blood, but Gilbert has managed to snatch another instrument from the second violinist and he is climbing all the way up towards the organ and he is going to have yet another bash at Tchaikovsky's Contezana Padoano

(Sound of a solo violinst playing followed quickly by a crunching sound, and then gasps from the audience)

Announcer : And he has crushed the sound box with his chin on the second bar there. This really isn't his day. (Murmering of crowd in the background) And now the conductor Otto Klemperer is hopping across the stage towards Gilbert and trying to poke at him with a stick. I must say this is amazing. This is the first time at the Festival Hall that I have seen a violinist of Gilbert's calibre poked with a stick. And one of the oboists has leapt on to Klemperer's back and is pulling his hair out. I must say that is is wonderful to see the loyalty that which a great soloist like Gilbert can still command amongst his fellow musicians. In fact several of the celloists have thrown off their clothes and are making a vast human pyramid standing a full thirty feet above the smoke and flames drifting across from the blazing wind section and through the smoke I can see... yes... I can see the tympanist one of Britian's best has lashed himself and a Japanese friend to the kettle drum and is rolling off the stage towards the pit of audero which has opened up under the first six rows of the stall. Whilst throughtout this rather unpleasent business of prising Gilbert out from between the organ pipes is being undertaken by the men of the Royal engineers. And Gilbert is half out. (in the background we hear the sound of the violinist playing) he has got an army violin and he is having another go at Contezana Padoano, and he is playing beautifully (we continue to hear lovely music played on the violin and then an ohhh sound) But oh dear one of the Royal Engineers has stuck a crowbar through his chest and he has dropped the violin and his very fit young nepatist has pounced upon it and are already taking bits of it across to Herr Billy Brandt across on the other side of the stage. (We hear the sound of crowds yelling, followed by police sirens) Well the Police have erected barriers now to keep people away from the rubble and as fighters swoop down (we hear the sound of planes in the background) to bomb the last pocket of resitance, we go onto the next part of our program. The Sonatino in E sharp by Antonio Vivaldi played by Pablo Casals during his 400 foot plunge into a bucket of boiling fat. (We hear a violin soloist play a few bars and then a scream followed by the sound one would expect if they heard someone falling into a bucket of fat).