‘After the composer died, they sorted through his papers and found a single manuscript copy of a piece for solo violin. It looked extraordinarily difficult – probably unplayable. The composer had scrawled, in a shaky hand, ‘to the City Guild of Violinists’. He had been its President for many years.

The Guild was honoured, but embarrassed. They made copies and all took one home, but none of them could play it. Some wondered whether the old man hadn’t meant it to be played at all – it was just a strange idea.

Some years later an unkempt, gypsy-like figure arrived in the city with a battered violin case. He took lodgings in the main square, and rumours began to circulate of strange and beautiful music being heard after dark.

Curious, the members of the Guild gathered one night to listen. It was the piece that had been dedicated to them. It was not only being played, but played with dance and leap and swell and fall. It was wild and headstrong and sweet.

old violinist

As the last notes died away, some of the Guild members started to applaud; but others were furious. ‘He’s not a member of the Guild! He has no right to play it! What’s he trying to do – make us look stupid?’

The window opened and the old violinist looked out.

‘I’m the composer’s son’, he said. ‘He taught me to play the piece, and made me a member of the Guild before he died.’

‘Rubbish!’ they shouted. ‘You’ve no business here! We don’t believe you! How dare you come here like you own the place!’

Next morning, the violinist had gone. The music was never heard in the city again.’

(thanks to Tom Wright for the story, ‘John for Everyone’).

But sometimes, I think, people still hear the echoes, and long for more.


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