Cavalleria Rusticana

One day an organ-grinder, stationed outside Pietro Mascagni's apartment, began playing tunes from his opera Cavalleria Rusticana at roughly half the proper speed. Irritated, the composer rushed into the street.

"I am Mascagni," he told the organ-grinder. "Let me show you how to play this music correctly." With that, he gave the organ's handle several energetic turns and retired to his room.

The next day Mascagni was irked to hear the infernal organ-grinder outside his window once again, still playing at an absurdly languid pace. The man had, however, made one significant change to his routine. Peeking out his window, Mascagni was dismayed to find, posted above the man's head, a newly-erected sign reading: "PUPIL OF MASCAGNI."

[The Italian language, Mascagni once remarked, has three degrees of idiocy: stupido, stupidissimo, and tenore.]

[Before the mechanical clock was invented in the fourteenth century,the most complex machine was the pipe organ installed, about 950 AD, by Bishop Aelfeg in his cathedral in Winchester, England. The organ had 400 pipes and required seventy men to operate its twenty-six bellows.]

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