I woke late the next morning. My head was aching and spinning with a terrible hangover.
The night before, my musician had disappeared rapidly after collecting his remuneration and left me with many unanswered questions.
“I will be able to find him tonight.” I thought,
I returned to the Balatan tavern but he wasn’t there. Nobody at the tavern remembered him.
He wasn’t in any other tavern either. Slowly, after a couple of hours of searching, I walked back to my hotel.
My hopes to see the quizzical interesting man again were gone. I thought that I would never solve the mysteries surrounding my musician’s life.
“It’s quite impossible find a man in such a large place.” I told myself. “I can only hope that during my last two days in Budapest I can discover his where-about.”
That night, returning to my hotel, I walked through the Cathedral piazza. Around the church, poor musicians were begging. They played their instruments and pushed their hats in front the harried passer-by for the few coins they threw.
In the distance, a violin propagated notes into the air. Or was my imagination playing tricks on me? But inside me was a clear compelling voice,
“Follow your instincts, follow the music…”
I finally reached a restaurant. I was exhausted by the long walk, and very thirsty. I sat at a table in the outdoor garden and ordered a boot of beer. It was nearly closing time. From the bar came the music of a violin playing the ‘Blue Danube’. Then brusquely it was silent. I decided to rest longer, before going back. Then I heard behind me, heavy steps on the gravel path.
They stopped, and I had the sensation of someone standing behind me. A man’s shadow appeared, and he was holding a violin in his hand. With pleasure, I noticed he was the musician I had tried to find for the past week.
Without being asked, he sat down at my table and ordered drinks for both of us. He was no longer the arrogant and loud entertainer I met a week earlier. His eyes had lost that eagle’s powerful look, and his hands slightly shook. He addressed me
“I owe you my thanks for your previous generosity. Tonight, we’ll celebrate. I’ll take the rest of the evening off”
In his hand, he had that bundle of forints notes I gave him a few nights earlier.
“I congratulate you. You really are a talented violinist.” I told him.
“Talent goes together with skill, to be able to reach the perfection. Techniques, practice and dedication are the base of the optimum. Any dedicated musician looks for perfection, but only a few, know how much it cost to reach such a point.”
And he continued “You must be a musician yourself. What instrument do you play?”
“I only play for pleasure. I am a violin maker. I also spend time writing articles about music.” I told him.
“This is why you are not possessed by the demons. Music is my torment and the only reason to live. The demons of music compel me to create notes reproducing the perfection of sound. All notes are important in creating music, even the simple one.
“I need to be surrounded by the harmony of music, or else the monotony of silence will overpower my soul and I won’t survive.”
He talked earnestly to me, and after a moment of reflection,
“I don’t have to battle life for too long now. When the time comes, I will not leave many regrets behind. Music has always fulfilled my needs and passions.”
He paused, and after a sigh and a long sip of beer, continued.
“You most likely ask yourself why I have kept away from public appearances and why I have renounced being a famous soloist. You will never understand my crucial dilemma. I am a perfectionist. Even the smallest note from my violin must be the purest.”
I was listening with interest to my musician, but at the same time I was admiring his violin that he had left on the table.
“Your instrument is very rare and valuable. It was crafted in the last of Guarneri’s period and it’s capable of giving such full round sound. It is similar to the one Paganini used, and it is worth a lot of money.”
“That violin is my life. Beside it has a great sentimental value to me. It was my father gift at the time I was born. That violin is part of me and it had forged my life. No money in the world would separate me from it.”
“I can understand the great sentimental value to you. It wasn’t my intention to ask to buy it. It is only my appreciation of such a magnificent instrument.”
My friend took care and time to properly pack his violin in the old case,
“No more music tonight. You say you are a writer. I want to tell you the story of my life. Perhaps one day soon, you can write of me and my life. It is something that until now I have jealously kept to myself, but I know my life is running quickly to an end. I know you will properly use my confidences, in writing of my violin and my life.”