His back was stiffly tilted, his legs looked tense.
The heavy volume before him seemed to balance dangerously on the chair back. “Now we
begin,” he said with a peremptory dart of his
eyes in her direction.
Her hands rounded over the keys and then
sank down. The first notes were too loud, the
other phrases followed dryly.
Arrestingly his hand rose up from the score.
“Wait! Think a minute what you’re playing. How
is this beginning marked?”
“All right. Don’t drag it into an adagio then.
And play deeply into the keys. Don’t snatch it
off shallowly that way. A graceful, deep-toned
She tried again. Her hands seemed sepa-
rate from the music that was in her.
“Listen,” he interrupted. “Which of these
variations dominates the whole?”
“The dirge,” she answered.
“Then prepare for that. This is an andante—
but it’s not salon stuff as you just played it. Start
out softly, piano, and make it swell out just be-
fore the arpeggio. Make it warm and dramatic.
And down here—where it’s marked dolce,
make the countermelody sing out. You know
all that. We’ve gone over all that side of it be-
fore. Now play it. Feel it as Beethoven wrote it
down. Feel that tragedy and restraint.”
She could not stop looking at his hands.
They seemed to rest tentatively on the music,
ready to fly up as a stop signal as soon as she
would begin, the gleaming flash of his ring
calling her to halt. “Mister Bilderbach—maybe
if I—if you let me play on through the first
variation without stopping I could do better.”
“I won’t interrupt,” he said.
Her pale face leaned over too close to the
keys. She played through the first part, and,
obeying a nod from him, began the second.
There were no flaws that jarred on her, but the
phrases shaped from her fingers before she had
put into them the meaning that she felt.
When she had finished, he looked up from
the music and began to speak with dull blunt-
The Enraged Musician, by William Hogarth, 1741.