The overture ended. Stokowski sighed, shook his head, and said, “Oboe. You, oboe.”
The oboe player, a very old man, looked up, ready to accept the ax.
“When I coax you with my hand like this,” said Stokowski, demonstrating the hand movement “I want you to play, to help. The flutes were lost. They have improved in quality in the last ten minutes but lost in volume.”
“But,” said the bewildered oboe player, his instrument cradled lovingly in his arms, “there was no music when you “pointed at me to play.”
“I am the conductor,” said Stokowski. “If I point at you, coax you, it is because I need you, and you will play even if there is no part for you.”
“You want me to improvise on Puccini?” asked the stunned old man, looking in the general direction of the string section.
“Yes,” said Stokowski. “Yes. Yes if I need it.”
“You want me to play … jazz?”
“I don’t care what you call it,” said Stokowski. “Just do it. Can you do it?”
“Yes,” said the old man.
“Good,” said Stokowski. “Practice.”
“Practice what?” asked the old man.