Johannes dried his hands on the towel draped around his neck, to catch the sweat that ran in rivulets down the center of his back.
The heat of the midsummer day was stifling despite the tall windows thrown wide, to tempt in a stray breeze.
He dabbed at a bead of moisture escaping from beneath is powdered wig and racing for the tip of his nose. He gave his forehead a good swipe before bending back over the paper and scratching another line onto the blank stanza, muttering to himself and plucking a few notes on the harpsichord.
As the music rose to a crescendo in his brain, he mumbled to himself,
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Over and over he repeated this phrase, pausing with his fingers suspended in mid-air for the time it took to write in silence.
Compared to his earlier works, the current piece he was writing was a somber, quiet work, a stark contrast to his normally flamboyant works. At thirty-five years old, Mozart felt a longing to discover and explore the darker side of the human condition.
This requiem would certainly run the gamut. He would create a piece that the world would never forget, even those who laughed at him.
He lifted the nub of his pen and set it aside on his table as a racking cough set in. He coughed so hard his shoulders shook, a rough cough that brought tears to his eyes and made his lungs burn. When the spell had passed, he reached over and took a healthy swig of the watered whiskey in his glass, washing away the phlegm and mopping his forehead once more.
No time… he was running out of time. He must complete his work.
His right hand flowed furiously over the paper while his left hand danced across the keyboard, working through the lower run cords, as the music played in his head in one complete sound. He could hear the music; not just one voice or one instruments, but all, simultaneously. It came to him as completed sound and structure. He was impatient, as always, with the slowness of his companions and audience. Could they not hear the fullness of the music? Slow…so slow they were, to insist he write it down line by line, instrument and voice. Music was a whole, it was like asking him to describe the various layers of dirt under his feet. It simply WAS.
Still, he was being paid to write it all down. His patron insisted if he wished to be paid. He was running out of time, he could feel it in his bones. No time to stop. No time to consider.
The room darkened and a maid entered to light the lamps, trimming the wicks and topping up the oil. He did not even see her come in, not even when she left a tray on the table by his chair.
Finally, exhausted, he put his pen down and collapsed into the stuffed chair and leaned his head back against the chair, falling asleep instantly.
The next morning, his wife came to wake him, but he would not wake. He was carried to his bed and did not rise from it again.
“Run the gamut” – “To extend over an entire range, as in His Music runs the gamut from rock to classical. This expression alludes to the medieval musical scale of Guido d’Azezzo, gamut being a contraction of gamma and ut, the lowest and highest notes respectively (Mid 1800’s)”
Enjoying my quick stories? Never miss a post again! sign up now and have my latest blog post emailed directly to your inbox. You will know the instant inspiration strikes, both for you and for me! Sign up now!Don’t want to clog your email? Consider sharing on your favorite social media 🙂 After all, who doesn’t need inspiration?
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.