The Maestro

Gerard Hoffnung’s book of cartoons, The Maestro, was published in 1953. I first saw it as a child. It was in the waiting room at the dentist I had to go to. Back in those days dentist visiting was a scary business. The low speed drills dug into your nerves – never deadened by injections – it hurt like the blazes. I suppose some light relief in the waiting room was a really good idea. And so I was introduced to The Maestro.


This, of course, is my copy – a 1963 tenth impression.

It seems odd now that I had enough nous of music to even understand it, let alone find it uproariously funny. But I do recall my brother and I laughing out loud as we looked at the Hoffnung cartoons showing a conductor interpreting those strange instructions that music uses.

Here we have Molto Diminuendo.


Of course the cartoon makes it clear. The phrase obviously means get a lot quieter – and quickly.

image006As I remember it this was one that really induced laughter. Hoffnung really captures the spirit of the over the top conductor with his ‘furioso’. I think at the time I’d have translated this as furiously but really it means with great vigour.

The Hoffnung cartoons still bring a smile to me.


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