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In 1910 Edward VII was entertaining a large party at Buckingham Palace. Outside the dining room the Guards Band was assembled in the courtyard and began playing. Their musical director, a man of avant-garde taste, selected a lengthy passage from Richard Strauss' tragic new opera, Elektra.

The choice was certainly unconventional, however the band was first-rate and the musicianship on this occasion exceptional. The band leader was understandably delighted when he was presented with a hand-written message from the king himself, after the selection had concluded:

"I do not know the name of the piece you have just played," it read, "but you are never to play it again."