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The Music Makers

Cabbages and Kings

By Stephen C. Clapp

For some three weeks, a team of workmen from Zandamm, Holland, whom simply no one could understand, assembled the new modern classical organ over at Busch-Reisinger Museum. An auspicious event for music lovers and musical instrument lovers, its christening featured E. Power Biggs and free drinks for all. A late afternoon sun streamed through the windows and onto the stone floor of Romanesque Hall as groups of organists, German professors, and "friends of Busch-Reisinger Museum" clustered excitedly. Voices drifted between the hor d'oeurves.

"Isn't it a beautiful thing--I can hardly wait to hear Biggsie play."

"I understand it only speaks Dutch," confided a woman dressed in a blue chemise.

"In Europe," builder Dirk Flentrop explained to an admiring host, "we don't take customers to see our work. We take them to an organ built two hundred years ago. 'See, it still works!' we say. The old way is the best way .... Logic, not electricity!"

"...and they have a marvelous colonial blown-glass harmonica--and not one of those Benjamin Franklin mechanized jobs either. Only one glass broken... no, Corning won't do it... I said they ought to try Steuben.."

"Biggs is ready to play," said an authoritative voice and everyone trooped to folding chairs facing the organ. The notes struck, proud and singing, from the compact, shiny instrument as Biggs played works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (appropriately enough), Franck, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Bach.

The concert finished, the party moved upstairs to where Mr. Flentrop was dismantling a four-foot organ pipe.

"It's an old medieval custom," whispered the lady in the blue chemise. "You fill it up with champagne and everybody drinks from it."

Mrs. Biggs was dispatched for scotch tape to cover openings in the pipe, while Mr. Flentrop gallantly placed his finger against the bottom to keep the wine from spilling.

"Oh, it's leaking!" Wine dripped onto the floor and Mrs. Biggs rushed over with more scotch tape. As he held the pipe, smiling embarrassedly, Mr. Flentrop suggested Hans who saved the dike or perhaps the harassed captain of a bazooka team. The wine was finally poured to the top.

"Smell," said Mr. Flentrop, pushing the pipe under a by-stander's nose. "Never again will you smell anything so sweet from an organ pipe."

"Biggsie, you'll have to have the first glass."

"I think it's cheating, using wine glasses," said the lady in the blue chemise. "They used to drink it right from the pipe." The photographer pressed forward. "Can everyone move behind the organ."

"We ought to send this picture to the Christian Advocate," snickered one of the church organists.

"Skol!" a newsman shouted, and Mr. Flentrop poured while Mrs. Biggs held the overflowing glasses. Even the organ was smiling.

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