By Richard Meyer
This fun and original piece for string orchestra is a great introduciton to the technique of "tone painting" for the student orchestra. It depicts inventor Professor Wigstein's proud creation, a machine that plays some of the world's most famous melodies. The introduction portrays the ceremonious (and rather pompous) unveiling of the amazing machine, With four turns of its crack, the machine comes to life, grinding and churning as it prepares to produce a melody. "ode to Joy" is heard, played pizzicato by the entire orchestra, and appropriately accompanied by generic "machine" sounds (rachet and bell). Soon, the machine winds down, and the melody comes to a halt. Once again, the machine is cranked, and begins working at another tune; "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is heard. The machine winds down again, only to cranked up a third ime. The melody to Offenbach's "Can-Can" emerges. Midway through the tune, however, something goes wrong with the machine. Fragments of all three meoldies are heard (in a variety of clashing keys) as the machine goes out of control, eventually exploding. A few hisses, and some dying moans are emitted. Finally, Chopin's "Funeral March" is heard as the machine plays its own death knoll, dying with a final soft hiss.