Movement IV - Presto Furioso

Grantville - April, 1634

Thomas Schwarzberg plopped a pile of manuscript pages down on the table in front of Amber Higham. "Done. That is the last of the pieces Franz desired for the concert—the full score and all the instrument parts as well." He rubbed at weary eyes. "I believe I shall sleep for a week." He pushed a smaller package over to Marcus Wendell. "And here is the second copy of the full score. Your student Dane was copying it as quickly as I finished the first copy, sometimes picking up pages even before the ink had dried."

"Good." Marcus smiled. "He's a good kid. I was glad to see him volunteer for this. From a music standpoint, too bad he's got to do the army thing. He could train up into a pretty fair musician, especially since he plays tuba." He looked to Thomas. "So, Franz is well into rehearsals now, I hear?

Thomas nodded. "Already Franz has adjusted his program. He has dropped the Albinoni Adagio, partly because the transcription for orchestra only instead of the original organ and orchestra did not work as well as he thought it would, but also in no small part because it is taking more time to rehearse the pieces than he thought it would.” He grinned. “I think that our Franz feels the time running like sand through a glass."

"Forget Franz," Amber said. "What will Mary think?"

Marcus shrugged. "Nobody's tried to do what we're doing so quickly. We're making this up as we go along. Mary will have to accept what can be done for this year. We'll build on it for next year. Frankly, I'm surprised as all get out at what's been accomplished."

"So." Amber looked up from her notepad. "Is that the last of the music to be sent to Magdeburg?"

"No, please," Giacomo spoke up. He pushed his own pile of pages forward. "This is the work that Franz Sylwester asked of me. It should have been ready before now, but when Father Kirchner asked me for the Passion, this was put on the back burner. But here it is at last, the Variations and Etude on Geminiani's Concerto Grosso in E minor. It is not difficult. The players, they will find it easy."

Heinrich Schütz reached out and picked up the full score of the piece to leaf through it. "Nicely done. Arranging the concerto from a handful of instruments to the full orchestra, good work that is. It will sound well."

Giacomo felt a flush of pleasure at the praise from his peer. He nodded his thanks.

Amber reached out and made the two stacks of music in front of her into one. "Is that all of it?" Receiving nods from around the table, she continued, "Have Dane give me his timesheet, Thomas, so I can cut him a check. I'll cut yours and Master Giacomo's at the same time. Now, is there any other news that I should send to Magdeburg along with this?"

"Tell Franz that the wind instrument students are making good progress," Marcus said. "Especially the brass players. He may have some of them earlier than I guessed, maybe even by the end of the year."

The down-timer musicians—Master Schütz, Thomas, and Master Giacomo himself—all took notice. "That is very good news," Master Schütz said. "Good news, indeed."

"Even the woodwind players are starting to make progress, once they got over having to learn from Errol Mercer and some teenagers in the band." Marcus shook his head. "Bunch of prima donnas. Worse than horn players . . . and I can say that—I are one." Amber laughed, but nobody else got the joke. "I had to read the riot act to the players learning clarinet and saxophone about working with Errol. He was about to walk on me because they were complaining so much about being taught by someone they felt was not at their level." Marcus nodded at Master Schütz. "Once I invoked your name, sir, they quit talking and started practicing. They still may not be happy about the situation, but at least they're working at it now and not complaining."

There were smiles around the room as Master Schütz's mouth quirked. "I am glad to have been of service in your new world of music, Master Marcus."

****

Giacomo fell into step with Heinrich as they left the meeting room. "So, my friend. How are you faring?"

Heinrich looked at him soberly. "I believe I am well. Pastor Johann Rothmaler from Rudolstadt has spent much time with me, several conversations. His wisdom and compassion have led me through darkness, and I have found a means of accepting Grantville and everything it brings."

"It is not easy to confront the future." Giacomo nodded. "I know this as well as anyone. It is good to hear that you are at peace with it."

"I am not sure if I am at peace with it or in spite of it." Heinrich gave a slight smile. "But yes, my mind is settled now, and I am ready to move forward."

The two men talked for a moment more at the front door to the building, then Heinrich said good night. Giacomo watched his friend walk away, relieved to hear that his distress had been allayed.

Amber Higham stepped up beside Giacomo, surprising him.

"Frau Amber . . . I thought you had already left."

"No, I was right behind you coming down the hall." She paused for a moment. "I had heard some time ago that Master Schütz was having a little difficulty dealing with Grantville. I overheard your discussion with him just now. Is he all right?"

"Yes," Giacomo said, "I believe he is."

"Good." Amber gave a firm nod. "I like him."

Magdeburg - Late April, 1634

"No, no, no, no, NO!" Franz brought the rehearsal to a halt. "Violas, how many times must I say it? At the fourth measure after letter C, on the first beat, I want a down bow from all of you—a strong down bow." He looked at the players in question. Most of them nodded.

"I will explain myself one more time. This is for two reasons. First, because that note begins a new phrase, it needs extra emphasis. Second, because I want you all to be seen moving in the same manner. If we have bows going in all directions, the audience, the patrons, will think that you are country bumpkins pulled in from the fairs." The glare he directed at them, while it might not have ignited the wood of their instruments, should certainly have caused them to warm up.

"Again. From letter C."

Franz started the orchestra again from that point. At the appropriate time, he focused on the viola section. He was gratified to find that they all followed his instruction. All but one, that is. One lone bow was moving up while all the others were moving down.

Cutting the music off, Franz set his baton down on the music stand. He said nothing, standing in silence. Within a moment, everyone in the great room was still. No one moved. No one whispered. It seemed no one breathed. When he finally spoke, more than one individual jumped, although his voice was not loud.

"Herr Vogler."

"Yes, Herr Sylwester?"

The violist's tone was not exactly impudent, but one would certainly not call it respectful.

"I am glad to see that you are not hard of hearing." It took a moment for that statement to sink in. Just as Vogler started to open his mouth for an angry retort, Franz said, "Tell me, Herr Vogler . . . why is it that fourteen other violists—even young Johann Amsel, here—can play that phrase perfectly, in exactly the manner that I desire, yet you seem to never be able to do so?"

"I . . . " Vogler sounded a little flustered as he stammered, "I simply think it sounds better the other way."

"You think it sounds better the other way." Silence. "Tell me, Herr Vogler. If the composer of this piece were here, would you argue with him about it?"

"But you are not the composer, are you?" Vogler's tone was rather pugnacious.

Franz was suddenly weary. "No, Herr Vogler, but I stand in his place. I direct you as the composer would have done. And if you will not accept my direction, then there is no place for you here." A moment of silence. "You are discharged."

Vogler's shock changed to anger quickly. "You cannot do that! I am one of Master Schütz's best musicians! Matthaüs, tell him. The master will be most angry."

Matthaüs shook his head. "No, Herwin. About the music, he is right and you are wrong. You are right that the master will be angry, but it will not be Herr Sylwester that will face his ire."

With an expression of stunned disbelief, Herwin turned to another and said, "Simon? Will you let this happen?"

"Herwin, I tried to tell you. This is your own doing."

Franz could see that Vogler's hands were trembling when he placed his viola in its case and snatched up his jacket. "I leave this place. You cannot discharge me—I quit!"

"As you will. Your pay will be waiting with Frau Haygood tomorrow."

Everyone watched as Vogler stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind him. All eyes then turned to Franz. He looked back at them, catching each eye for a moment. "Gentlemen, I say again, I stand in the place of all these composers, these men who will never be but whose genius is still before us. I will not accept less than your best. It is our duty, and their due. If you cannot bear that stricture, then it would be best if you left now." Long moments passed.

Franz picked up his baton. "Again. From letter C."

Grantville - May, 1634

The Thuringen Gardens was moderately crowded tonight, Thomas thought. The OF Band was playing tonight. This had brought many of their followers in early to take the best places. The old men were up on the platform, tuning up and getting ready to start any moment. As he watched, they were joined by a couple of their wives.

There were some tables still open. He and Lucas Amsel followed Masters Carissimi and Schütz toward a table.

Thomas was somewhat bemused by Master Carissimi's choice of attire. He had set aside the black cassock he sometimes wore, even though he was not a cleric . . . at least not yet. Thomas had heard him say from time to time that he was truly considering entering orders. When not wearing the cassock, Master Giacomo normally wore the culottes—knee britches—ruffled shirt and coat of a gentleman. Tonight, however, when he took the coat off and flung it over the back of his chair, Thomas was astounded to see him wearing a t-shirt.

T-shirts were almost ubiquitous in Grantville. They were seen in all sizes and colors, including many colors not found in nature. Master Tom Stone's tie-dyed t-shirt came to mind, which occasioned a shudder on Thomas' part. That shirt looked like a hangover felt, as far as he was concerned.

Many of the t-shirts had pictures or words on them. Variations on the American flag were common. Out of all that he had seen, Thomas had two favorites, one serious and one comical. The serious one had a long quote on it: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke." The comical one had a much shorter quote: "I'm with Stupid," above an arrow that pointed to the right. In some fashion, Thomas felt that those two shirts captured the essence of Grantville.

The t-shirt that Master Giacomo was wearing fell somewhere in between those two extremes, being simply a bright pink shirt with a picture of a plaza and surrounding buildings rendered on it in exquisite detail. Master Giacomo saw him looking at it.

"The Piazza Navona in Rome." He held the front of the shirt stretched out between his hands. "I have walked it before, many times. It reminds me of home. Remind me some time to tell you how I found it here in Grantville."

Master Heinrich looked at Master Giacomo, then at Thomas. "Tell me . . . do you know if Frau Amber is married? I have not seen a ring on her hand such as the married women of Grantville wear."

Thomas' eyebrows rose involuntarily. He looked at Master Giacomo, who replied, "I believe I was told that she was married back in the time before the Ring of Fire, but that she divorced her husband for adultery. His adultery."

"She never remarried?"

"I do not believe so, no. In any event, it would be a moot point now. As I understand it, the consensus appears to be that all spouses not in Grantville when the Ring of Fire fell will be treated as dead. That would mean Frau Amber should be considered a widow." Master Giacomo looked at Master Heinrich with the same curiosity that Thomas himself felt.

After a moment, Master Heinrich, obviously feeling the weight of their gazes, said, "She reminds me of Magdalena . . . my wife. I find her . . . interesting."

Master Giacomo, Lucas and Thomas exchanged astonished looks. Before any of them could think of anything to say, the wine and beers arrived. Moments later, so did Signor Abati.

Andrea Abati had arrived in Grantville in December not long before Christmas. He was an acquaintance of Master Giacomo's, come from Magdeburg to visit the master and to learn more of the modern music.

Signor Abati was a castrato, or more politely, a gentilhuomo. This automatically made him a member of the musical elite of Italy. According to Master Carissimi, though, Abati was more than just a member of that group; he was the elite of the elite, probably the finest singer and musician of all the gentilhuomi. He was known as Il Prosperino among the patrons and musicians of Rome. The problem, from Thomas' perspective, was that Abati, at least when he first arrived, was fully in agreement with Master Carissimi's opinion. Despite the fact that he was taller than the Italian, Thomas had felt all too often during their first encounters that Abati was looking down his nose at all things German.

That had changed as Abati spent time with Marcus Wendell, Master Giacomo and Elizabeth Jordan. He had disappeared into the music libraries of the school and the various churches for days. From time to time, he would borrow a book from Master Wendell, only to return it in a few days and then begin to question everyone in sight about various issues until he had worked everything out and understood things—or at least as well as anyone in Grantville did.

Thomas had been around Abati quite a bit the last few weeks, particularly after Franz and the others had left on their trips. By that time, Abati had set aside most of his flamboyance. He was now so focused on the music that he rivaled Franz and Marla in intensity. Thomas quite approved of Abati these days. The thought surprised him somewhat.

"Good evening, friends." Abati plopped into the chair left open for him.

Thomas felt a moment of envy, for Abati's German was as melodious as his Italian. Then something registered with him at the same moment that Master Giacomo gasped. "Andrea, what have you done?"

"Oh, this?" Abati ran his fingers through his hair—his much, much shorter hair. "Yes, I have set aside the trappings of being Il Prosperino. I decided that to spend so much time on my hair and clothing was a distraction from the music. So, I simplified my life." Abati ran his fingers again through his wavy auburn hair again. It was no longer than the bottom of his ears, and his grin was almost salacious. "Then, when I let it be known that I wanted my hair cut, the proprietresses of the 'beauty salons,' seemed to almost come to blows over who would cut it. I finally settled on Frau Thelma Jean Agnes Jenkins at the 'Curl and Tan.'"

Abati paused long enough to give his order to the waitress. "I had at first thought of taking all my shorn locks and using them as favors for ladies in Italy to remember me by and for ladies in Germany to come to know me by." His grin was now several degrees past salacious. "But Frau Jenkins convinced me that I should allow her to sell them to a wigmaker. Even after her commission for the cutting and the sale, I pocketed more than a few coins."

"And your attire?" Carissimi quirked an eyebrow.

Abati shrugged a rather expressive shrug. "Long pants and a jacket. Life is so much freer, more comfortable. Velvet, of course. I have not given up all thought of style." His wine arrived as they were laughing. After taking a sip, he continued, "I got a pretty penny from the seamstress who bought all the brocade, as well." Another grin. "I think they will use the former owner of the hair and clothes as a selling mark." More laughter.

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