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Beethoven's Death Mask

Page 8

Peter Symons

“Is he really dead? The mask man.”

“He is dead. And he was a genius.”

Without waiting for me to answer his question, he turned to the assistant and handed over some notes. Then he turned back to me and handed me the record.

“We have to go back to the hotel.”


A week or so after we returned, he beckoned me into his office. As I stood in the doorway he turned from his chair and put his pipe on the desk. I learned to hate the smell of tobacco. He was holding the record he had bought in, the death mask facing me.

“Do you remember this?”

I did.

“Do you remember the music? The record I gave you?”

I remembered the music. I played the record all the time. I remembered and I understood what the music meant. But I was a little boy and didn’t know how to say those things.

“It is special, isn’t it?”

I wanted to think of a better word. It was something else than special.

“Listen,” My father leaned toward me although I was still standing in the doorway. “I told you he was a genius. Beethoven. The man who wrote this. He wrote it by himself. By himself. He didn’t need other people to write it.”

I didn’t understand why my father was so worried about how Beethoven wrote it. It was beautiful. It was something I loved but didn’t understand. And I think I understood about him dying. Closing his eyes, frowning.

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