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Beethoven's Death Mask

Page 7

Peter Symons

There was a photo of the same mask I saw upstairs on the cover. It looked more like a ghost now.

“This is Sonata 14 in C♯ minor. Some people call it the Moonlight Sonata.” He was half talking to himself but then looked at me.

“Listen to this.”

My father handed the record to the shop assistant and spoke something in German. I didn’t know he spoke German.

The assistant put the record on a player sitting on a bench behind him.

“Listen,” my father said. “You have to listen to this.”

So I listened.

It was slow. At first. I had heard piano music coming from my father’s office but I had not heard this. Or anything like this.

It was slow. But it kept moving.

At that moment I realised that I was just a child and did not yet know the words to describe what this thing was.

Then it changed. The music changed and it caught me. I loved what it was before and I loved the way it changed. Then it changed again. It was faster. It was almost scary. Had I known the word, I would have called it exhilarating. And then it was loud and slow. The music fell to a stop. Then moved again.

Then it ended.

It was a moment before I realised my father was looking at me.

“You liked that, didn’t you?” He tilted his head, evaluating me.

“Would you like me to buy it for you?” He held the little object in the air, so the death mask of Beethoven faced me.

Page 7

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