St. Peter and the violin
Prosper Merimee, who sojourned in Pest in 1854, wrote that the music of the Hungarian Gypsy violinists was so beautiful and enthralling that it "swept the townspeople off their feet. It begins with something very mournful and ends with a mad gaiety that wins over the whole audience, who stamp their feet, smash their glasses and dance on the tables." On the Gypsies' penchant for music, and in particular for the violin, here is this Slavic Roma fairy tale, first published in its original form in 1936.
Once old Del set out to observe the men he had created who populated the earth and realized that not everything was going as he had hoped. For all it took was for two or three of them to get together to party, and lo and behold! One too many drinks here, one wrong word there, and before you knew it they were beginning to quarrel with each other and beat the hell out of each other, worse than red-crested roosters in the same henhouse. So he built a fine violin with his own hands, polished it, made a fine bow for it, and then surreptitiously laid it on the shoulders of St. Peter, who at that very moment was on his way to have a snack at an inn crowded with merry people. - Bonasera! - said St. Peter as he entered the inn. - Oh, yes! Play! Play! - shouted back all those present, clapping their hands on the tables and making a hell of a racket. Poor St. Peter was so frightened, hearing them shouting like that and making that din of hell, that without a second thing he bolted out of the inn. And only then did he notice the violin had fallen from his shoulders and ended up on the floor. He went to his principal and asked him, -What does this mean? And old Del: - What are you surprised about, my dear? I made that violin for you. So you can play it for the men whenever they get together to party so that they will stop fighting and playing it to each other! - If that's what you desire, I certainly won't be enough to keep them in a good mood - St. Peter retorted. -Eh, yes! There will need to be more musicians. Old Del realized that St. Peter was exactly right. - But to whom could I give this assignment? - he asked him. - Give it to the gypsies! They will certainly know how to cheer men up! - So be it! - said then old Del. And so it was that the Gypsies became a people of musicians.