The Musical Cat

This tale came to us from “Alan Long” who says, “I was surprised not to find this one on your site. Perhaps I just missed it. At any rate I heard it from my father many years ago.”

A well-known professor of music was accustomed to receive letters from amateur musicians asking for auditions and from would-be composers asking him to look at their work. He always ignored them.

But one old lady was particularly persistent. Over and over again she wrote to him to ask him to visit her home to hear her cat play the piano.

At last he gave in. He had agreed to act as a judge at a music festival not far from the old lady’s home and he decided that it might be amusing to call on her. So he telephoned her and arrangements were made for him to have tea at her home the following Thursday.

He arrived at the appointed hour to find that his hostess was a very pleasant and cultured elderly lady and not at all the sort of crank he had been half fearing. They sat down to tea and after a little while a cat sidled into the room, jumped up onto the piano stool and mewed. His mistress stood up, walked across the room and gently lifted the piano lid, giving the cat’s head an affectionate caress as she did so.

The cat sat up, his paws hovered for fully half a minute above the keys, as though he were trying to come to a decision and then he started to play, a little hesitantly at first – because it was quite evidently the first occasion that he had performed for anyone other than his mistress – but then with growing confidence when he saw that the stranger’s rapt attention.

He played the “Moonlight Sonata” very competently, two Chopin polonaises with passion and delicacy, and then a piece of Scarlatti with a flair approaching brilliance. Finally, he played a long piece which the professor failed to recognize.

The professor applauded heartily and turning to his hostess he asked who was the composer of the last piece. “Oh!”, she said, “Didn’t I say? He composes as well, you know. He wrote that last piece himself.”

The professor replied “Now that is truly amazing. You should have it orchestrated.”

The cat turned round, looking startled and dismayed, jumped down from the stool, ran across the room and out of the window, never to be seen again.

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