Music: Shotgun Symphony

As Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture boomed to its finish last week in St.Louis' Convention Hall, an audience of 9,000 leaped to its feet and looked nervously for the nearest exit. Amid the pealing of Moscow's bells and the surging of God Save the Czar, two shotguns had belched fire and smoke behind the scenes of the St. Louis Symphony. The shooting was merely part of an old Muscovite custom.

Ever since Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky included an obbligato for cannon in its tumultuous score, the 1812 Overture has been considered something to shoot about.

The late...

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