Then the conductor pulled a revolver and pointed it at the audience…

Then the conductor pulled a revolver and pointed it at the audience…


norman lebrecht

December 24, 2010

Yeah, I know, these things happen. 

In his last blog of the year, the London Symphony Orchestra’s principal flute, Gareth Davies, notes his surprise on tour this year at seeing a well-known conductor come on stage with a gun in his hand, aiming it at the heart of the audience.
The conductor in question has had anger management issues in the past (don’t they all?) and the concert was taking place in Palermo, Sicily, where men with guns may be a more common sight than in Chelmsford, England, and are taken with deadly seriousness.
I won’t ruin the story: read it for yourselves in Gareth’s blog.
As I said, these things happen. Among the many reminsicences shared of Maurice Murphy, the LSO’s principal trumpet player who died last month, was the one when, faced with a waffly rehearsal conductor in a contemporary symphony, no-nonsense Maurice pulled a replica Colt 45 from his trumpet case and fired at the conductor. ‘That’ll shut him up,’ said Maurice. And so it did.

That’s Maurice above, at full blast (credit: Suzie Maeder/Lebrecht Music & Arts).
The new issue of Classical Music magazine takes the tale one stage further with a picture from Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival of Isabelle Bozzini, cellist of the Quatuor Bozzini, aiming a pistol at one of her violinists. That’s her below, I think, ducking from retaliation.

My advice to musicians: wherever you’re playing next year, do be careful. 

Or you could end up like this, fish food:



  • Marie Lamb says:

    Yikes! If I had been in the orchestra, I would have avoided playing with any “audible wobble,”
    if I could have played at all after seeing THAT!
    Must have scared the players into doing a bang-up job…and the audience into paying close attention and putting away any cell phones!

  • David Snyder says:

    History: A 19th century French Conductor (I can’t recall the name at the moment) once pulled a revolver on his orchestra, and, closer to our time, it’s said that Artur Rodzinski kept a loaded gun in his pocket. There’s also a story that he had to be either pinched or kicked in the butt before he went on stage to lead a performance. I think the idea of applying a gun to the cell-phoners has merit.

  • Not ALL of us have anger management issues… maybe other issues, perhaps.

  • Tom says:

    In his autobiography, Antheil recounts how he, sick and tired of audiences walking out on recitals of his own compositions, had the doors locked at the beginning of one of his concerts in Germany, whereupon he took out a pistol and placed it on top of his piano. Apparently, he never had a more quiet and attentive audience in his life.