Once it was there for sure. And you didn’t lose
things like that. A Wunderkind…A Wunder
kind…Of her Mr. Bilderbach said it, rolling the
words in the sure, deep German way. And in
the dreams even deeper, more certain than ever.
With his face looming out at her, and the longing phrases of music mixed in with the zooming,
circling round, round, round—A Wunderkind. A
To put off going into the studio a moment
longer, she waited until the previous student
was ready to leave and then stood behind him
as he opened the door. The frosty cold outside
cut into the room. It was growing late, and the
air was seeped with the pale yellow of winter twilight. When the door swung to on its
hinges, the house seemed darker and more silent than ever before she had known it to be.
As she went into the studio, Mister Bilderbach got up from the piano and silently watched
her settle herself at the keyboard.
“Well, Bienchen,” he said, “this afternoon
we are going to begin all over. Start from scratch.
Forget the last few months.”
He looked as though he were trying to act
a part in a movie. His solid body swayed from
toe to heel, he rubbed his hands together, and
even smiled in a satisfied, movie way. Then sud-
denly he thrust this manner brusquely aside. His
heavy shoulders slouched, and he began to run
through the stack of music she had brought in.
“The Bach—no, not yet,” he murmured. “The
Beethoven? Yes. The Variation Sonata. Opus 26.”
The keys of the piano hemmed her in—
stiff and white and dead seeming.
“Wait a minute,” he said. He stood in the
curve of the piano, elbows propped, and looked
at her. “Today I expect something from you.
Now this sonata—it’s the first Beethoven so-
nata you ever worked on. Every note is under
control—technically—you have nothing to cope
with but the music. Only music now. That’s all
you think about.”
He rustled through the pages of her vol-
ume until he found the place. Then he pulled
his teaching chair halfway across the room,
turned it around, and seated himself, straddling
the back with his legs.
For some reason, she knew, this position
of his usually had a good effect on her performance. But today she felt that she would notice
him from the corner of her eye and be disturbed.
Koto with accessories, Japan, early seventeenth century. Inlaid with gold and silver, the metalwork on this string
instrument was crafted by Goto Teijo, the ninth-generation master of a workshop founded in the fifteenth century.