Music: Variations on Two Fingers

Little Gania Borodin had a favor to ask of her famous father: Could she play a duet with him on the piano? Russian Composer Alexander Borodin beamed—it was news to him that his little girl could play at all. But he listened while she picked out "Chopsticks" with a finger of each hand. Fascinated, he began to improvise a ten-finger accompaniment in the bass while she pecked.

Later, Borodin wrote a funeral march and a mazurka around the tune, which he called the Coteletten Polka* and proudly showed the pieces to his musical friends....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!