The Nasophone: An Unexpected, Musical Use for the Nose?

I suspect that the following old newspaper excerpt is a joke, and a fun one at that, but one can never be too certain! One thing I do know is that the opening remarks about Mozart seem to be based on an anecdote that I’ve heard before. Scroll down below the picture to read more about this.

This excerpt dates from 1885 and was published in the New York Times via the Pall Mall Gazette. Do you know if the nasophone was real? I certainly hope it was (or still is)! nasophone2Now, as for those opening remarks about Mozart, I suspect they were based on the following anecdote from Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes:

One day, Mozart taunted Haydn that the latter would never be able to play a piece which Mozart had just written. Haydn sat at the harpsichord, began to play from the manuscript, then stopped abruptly. There was a note in the center of the keyboard while the right hand was playing in high treble and the left hand in low bass.

“Nobody can play this with only two hands,” Haydn exclaimed.

“I can,” Mozart said quietly. When he reached the debated portion of his composition, he bent over and struck the central note with his nose.

“With a nose like yours,” Haydn conceded, “it becomes easier.”

(Anecdote taken from Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes by Nicolas Slonimsky, and quoted online at Story Compositions)

What do you all think of this silliness? Should noses be used more to make music, rather than just smell things? I used to play my plastic recorder with my nostrils as a child, but that’s a story for another time…

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