December 18-24, 1970 / Lucerne trip: This is the mansion where German Richard Wagner had cranked out several of his operas. It's now a museum and I managed to perpetrate a small incident. On the second floor, there stood what I considered to be the mansion’s most important piece of furniture, Wagner’s piano. Thinking we were all alone, I impulsively reached over a thick velvet rope and played a few right-hand runs from Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #6. The piano was horribly out of tune and the action on the yellowed, chipped keys was brittle. But I nonetheless pressed on, boldly adding my left hand to the passage.
“Halt! Das ist sehr schlecht! Sehr schlecht! Achtung!”(Stop! This is very bad! Very bad! Attention!) The high-pitched, nearly apoplectic voice belonged to a stocky red-nosed museum guard who suddenly flew through a doorway and wedged himself between the historic instrument and me. Although I apologized in both English and Italian, while Anne Marie seemed to be bowing in supplication, the man delivered a completely incomprehensible reprimand.
As we trotted out the building, Anne Marie said, “That’s what you get for playing Liszt. He’s so noisy!”