His way of taming a shrew

One of Peter Tranchell's party tricks was to retrieve a wad of newspaper clippings from a pocket, and turn them into improvised songs at the piano. The stories were selected for some unusual or amusing content. A few such articles became more permanent works, with surviving scores and even recordings. One such is 'His way of taming a shrew' - a somewhat unlikely story from Hungary, which Tranchell set to music in a Hungarian Gypsy band style.

The Cambridge University Library archive catalogue records that the original version of this song was for solo voice & piano, however the surviving version, dating from 1977, is scored for unaccompanied ATBrBB. A typeset score is available here or by clicking on the image below.

Image from manuscript score of Peter Tranchell's His way of taming a shrew

The words were 'taken from a news-cutting' (exact source unknown).

Tired of his wife's nagging, Janos Dey, a Hungarian living at Debrecin, decided to frighten her by faking suicide. He made a safety harness in which he could appear to have hanged himself. When his wife came in and found him "hanged", she screamed and fainted.

A woman neighbour heard, and found what she thought were two corpses. She looted the flat of valuables.

But as she passed the "hanged" corpse, he gave her a hefty kick. [B'doi-oi-nggg.!]

The shock was so great, the woman had a heart attack and died.

Janos Dey was acquitted of her manslaughter, and says his wife has stopped nagging him now.

His way of taming a shrew was recorded and released on Music From Caius. 

Recorded 18 - 21 June 1979

Baritone Solo: Ralph Searle

Tranchell: His way of taming a shrew - use the player below or download the MP3:

Traces of this story can be found on the internet, and one page (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/getting-the-hang-of-it/ accessed 22/06/2022) in turn references the following sources (which we have not checked), but interestingly all post-date Tranchell's work by several years.

Bryson, Bill. The Blook of Bunders (Bizarre World). Great Britain: Sphere Books Ltd., 1982.

Flynn, Mike. The Best Book of Bizarre But True Stories Ever. London: Carlton, 1999. ISBN 1-85868-558-3 (p. 97).

Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill. “Urban Myths: Dope on a Rope.” The Guardian. 30 July 1994 (p. T51).

Priestley, Harold. Truly Bizarre. New York: Topaz, 1979 (pp. 104-105).