B Ondergrave, email

WHEN Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a graveyard on the grounds of the local church. A few days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noises emanating from Beethoven’s grave. Terrified, he ran and got the priest. “Father, come quickly!” he cried.

The priest followed the drunk out to the grave.

There he bent close to the ground, and heard what sounded like faint, strange-sounding music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.

When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said: “Why, that’s Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but it’s being played backwards!” He listened a while longer. “And now it’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards too!”

Amazed, the three men listened a long time to the sounds coming from the grave. As time went by, the magistrate identified more of the backwards music: “There’s the Seventh Symphony... the Sixth... the Fifth... the Fourth...”

By now, a huge crowd had gathered around the grave, transfixed by what was happening.

Eventually, the magistrate got up and addressed the crowd. “My fellow citizens,” he announced.

“I’ve finally worked out the meaning of all this. There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Beethoven decomposing.”