Some of Anton Bruckner’s students decided to play a trick on him. While he was out to lunch, they played music on the piano for Bruckner’s dog. As one of them played a motive from Richard Wagner’s music, the others chased the dog around the room and slapped him. But when they played from Bruckner’s own Te Deum, they gave the dog treats.
Once the dog started running away every time he heard Wagner’s music and came bounding toward the piano with his tail wagging every time he heard Bruckner’s, the students prepared the next part of their plan.
When Bruckner returned from lunch, the student’s hailed him as the greatest living composer. Bruckner, of course, always insisted that Wagner was the greatest. He became incensed when someone elevated even his own music above Wagner’s.
The students then informed him that even the dog knew that Bruckner was greater than Wagner. Intrigued, he asked for proof. Sure enough, at the sound of Wagner’s music, the dog howled and ran out of the room, but at the sound of Bruckner’s Te Deum, he returned with his tail wagging and pawed expectantly at the students’ sleeves. Surely it didn’t take Bruckner long to figure out the explanation, but he was pleased at the demonstration nonetheless.