Musical marksmanship

Playing the piano with a rifle” in The Strand magazine 28 (December 1904, pp. 580–8) describes a performance by Colonel Gaston Bordeverry, who learned the intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana by ear and, having devised a system of bull’s-eyes to indicate the correct notes on a specially-built piano, performed the tune by firing 66 shots at the instrument with a rifle. The specially-made bullets were powderless and noiseless when they struck, which they did with enough force to pierce through a one–inch-thick plank.

Colonel Bordeverry and his daughter were variety show performers in the early twentieth century; his performance of the intermezzo was one of their most successful numbers. The article was reprinted as “Not the usual performance practice” in the American Musical Instrument Society newsletter 32/1 (Spring 2003, pp. 12–13, 16).

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Filed under Curiosities, Dramatic arts, Performance practice

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