Musician’s Undoing

When I first heard this story, it was about Beethoven, but this from Ulf Zimmerman is more elegant.

Following Chopin’s death, there was a tremendous crowd that followed his funeral train and stood by the grave. When these folks finally disappeared and no one was left but the couple of gravediggers who were going to fill up and close the grave, one of these guys said, We should open up the coffin and have a look at Chopin. That way we could say we were the absolutely last people to have seen Chopin.

The other guy was reluctant–those good Catholics in Poland, you know–and they argued back and forth for a while. But finally curiosity and the prospects of fame won out. They tinkered and unscrewed and finally got the top opened up. Were they surprised when they saw Chopin lying there with sheafs of sheet music in one hand and a big eraser in the other. One of the gravediggers said, What are you doing, Mr. Chopin. And he answered, “The same thing you’d be doing if you were dead and buried — decomposing.”

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