Music: The Big Baton Mystery

It was the "waiting music" that introduces the third act of Madame Butterfly. In the pit of Chicago's Civic Opera House, Conductor Laszlo Halasz turned to the first-violin section of his New York City Opera Company orchestra to urge them on. Few in the audience noticed what happened next, but it made the most controversial musical mystery of the week.

The fact was that astonished young (28) Concertmaster Alfred Bruening caught a flying baton in the face. The mystery: Did the baton just slip out of Halasz's hand, as Halasz claimed, or did he hurl it, straight and true as a javelin,...

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