Unravelling The True Inwardness Of Facts

A bit of archive diving at the NY Times comes up trumps.


Smashed, It Was Charged, by a Belligerent French Horn


Herr Gotterdamn and Herr Loesch Were At Odds
and the Snare Drum Tells of an Encounter in the Dark

The French horn and the first violin were at it hammer and tongs yesterday in the Fourth District Court. In a scrimmage last Summer, at Long Branch, the French horn had, so it is charged, mauled the first violin. Its strings were left tuneless, its bridge was smashed, and it was otherwise grievously injured, necessitating repairs that cost $20.

To recover this sum from the pugnacious French horn, suit was brought, and Civil Justice Roesch, with the aid of his assistant, undertook to unravel the true inwardness of the facts. After giving the case his most earnest attention, the Justice announced that he would reserve his decision.

It was a sad story of false sounds and discords that was revealed in the presentation of the case. Among the accomplished artists in the Hollywood Hotel orchestra at Long Branch last Summer were George Loesch Jr, the French horn and Louis V. Gotterdamn, the first violin.

The fact that he bears such a thoroughly Wagnerian patronymic has always made Herr Gotterdamn a proud man. Naturally, there were among his fellow-artists some who were jealous of this distinction, and among these, it is charged, was Herr Loesch.

When Herr Gotterdamn was at his best on the first violin, coaxing from its musical bosom the sweetest and most tuneful airs, Herr Loesch is said to have often caused his French horn to screech in such an insulting and overbearing strain that the dulcet tones of the gentle violin were drowned out entirely or made to appear most ridiculous.

Herr Gotterdamn resented this most furiously. To be mocked at all was sufficiently aggravating to a gentleman of his fine perceptions; to be mocked by a French horn, to have gusts of the ‘Marseillaise’ injected in the midst of his finest flights into the realms of the ‘Gotterdammerung’ or the ‘Walkure’ was simply insupportable.

As a result Herr Gotterdamn, the report goes, learned to hate and despise Herr Loesch. Herr Loesch, according to accounts, looked upon Herr Gotterdamn as a tuneless simpleton.

On a warm, sultry night, Aug. 16 last, the feud culminated. The guests of the hotel sat down together to listen to the soulful, stirring airs of the orchestra. None of them dreamed of the fierce tumult that was heaving and beating in the breasts of the first violin and the French horn. If the French horn screeched defiantly at times, the listeners put it down to the overheated atmosphere and when the first violin fell into warlike notes it was considered simply an accident.

Only the members of the orchestra knew better and the wild scene that followed, resulting in the maiming of the first violin, was told yesterday by the Snare Drum, who was a witness of the trouble from first to last. It was an ordeal to the Snare Drum, the recital of the story of warfare, but the task was accomplished to the general satisfaction of everybody except Herr Gotterdamn, who doesn”t think much more of the Snare Drum than he does of the French horn.

Out in the black night, after all the musical instruments had been put in their cases and when all the artists were on their way home, Herr Gotterdamn’s long sufferings found vent. Against the French horn his poor violin was powerless but Herr Gotterdamn’s lungs were quite as powerful as those of Herr Loesch. So he said in his fiercest tones to Herr Loesch, the story way told:

“You, Sir, are a rascal.”
“Ha!,” replied Herr Loesch, with a sneer.

“Yes, Sir, a rascal – a scoundrel, a wretch!”
“Ha!, Ha!” sneered the French Horn once again.

“You are unfit company for gentleman!”
“Ha! Ha; Ha!” exclaimed the French Horn in derision.

“You are no musician,” then declared Herr Gotterdamn, rendered furious by this scornful reception of his milder remarks. The blow told. it was a home thrust. All the passions that go with the manipulation of the French horn was aroused within the bosom of Herr Loesch.

Like a lion the French horn made at the First Violin and in tones that might have been heard blocks away he demanded a retraction of the slander.

The First Violin refused to retract and with an umbrella raised aloft defied the French horn to make him do so. From this point, the stories of the two principal diverge but the Snare Drum’s account of was accepted as that of an outsider.

“Your Honor,” the Snare Drum said, bowing to Justice Roesch, “Loesch, he says: ‘Put down your umbrella and put down your fiddle and we’ll settle it between us, man to man.’

“‘No, sir,’ says Gotterdamn and with that he smashed Loesch with the umbrella and started to run as if his house was afire. His fiddle slipped out of his hand and Loesch just threw it after him.”

Herr Gotterdamn, on the contrary, asserts that Loesch stamped on his precious instrument and otherwise maltreated it. Justice Roesch will decide the matter in a day or two.

— published in the NY Times 29th November 1894

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