Rubato is a mystery about a dead piano teacher who may have been involved with the acquisition an autograph manuscript of a Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Lizst.
“Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words.”
Judith sat on the floor of her music room. The light from the window scattered dapples of light over the hardwood floor, bleeding on the thick rug under the piano. Scattered around her were sheets of typewritten pages, music scores, and in an archival see-through plastic sleeve, the worn and carefully guarded fragment of the first 34 measures of The Hungarian Rhapsody No.8. Her secret treasure, brought from Europe, hidden among other editions of Liszt music. She picked up the manuscript, looking at the handwritten music from so long ago. The first strong chords were rich with color and texture. It gave her the greatest of joy to play the F sharp minor scale feeling the melancholy announcement before the beauty of the change of key. The change from minor to major left the soul lifted and energized. There were fragments of the rest of the piece in the Library Of Congress, Franz Liszt Collection in Washington D.C. but no one knew she possessed the first measures. And, no one must know until she could document her find and make it presentable to the experts. It must never again, come into the his hands.
Rubato- Chapter 1
As Jon and his mother approached the house they both stopped to comment on the beauty of the sun on the water. Gold, red, yellow and orange sparkles dazzled their eyes. This was an outside adventure day, instead they were coming to take a piano lesson from Judith. Jon remembered her attack on his note reading skills the week before.
“Don’t bother coming back if you don’t seriously buckle down to read notes!”
The sting of her words still left their mark. But Jon practiced all week, endlessly working on computer flash cards. He was ready to show her the work on the Chopin waltz. They didn’t need to knock. Judith instructed them to walk in and wait in the living room if she was with a student, or warm-up on the piano, if she was upstairs.
Her house was immaculate. Graceful Georgian furniture, spaced generously, reflected with a gleam that showed they were prized.
No sound came from the music room just beyond. Jon approached the piano and fingered the Steinway ivory keys. He glanced out the picture window to see the water. He wished he were on the beach.
“Go ahead and warm up,” his mother encouraged. “She will be down in a few minutes. You have worked very hard this week. Judith will be impressed.”
Jon opened the Henle Edition of Chopin works and started the waltz in A minor. The Steinway had such mellow tone that he found he had to play with more weight. His Yamaha at home was bright and crisp.
The first time through the waltz was slow but as the sun played on Judith’s mirror Jon lost his awareness of time and he quieted his thoughts to be one with the motion of the piece.
“Where can she be?” His mother interrupted his reverie. Ten minutes had passed and still no Judith. This was unusual, even for this eccentric woman.
Jon played a sonatina and felt glad to have time alone at the piano. As he finished he noticed his mother walking around the bottom floor of the house.
“Mom? Are you snooping?”
“Well, it’s been twenty minutes and we either go, or we figure out where she is. Judith? Are you here?” She called out loudly. “Surely she has heard you playing wherever she is.”
They looked out the back window towards the garage. The garage door was open and inside an older Mercedes showed off it’s gold color.
“She is here somewhere. Let’s peek upstairs.”
“No! Mom, let’s just go home.”
His mother mounted the stairs slowly and carefully. Jon waited at the bottom. When his mother disappeared down the hall a foreboding feeling hit the pit of his stomach.
“Judith?” His mother’s voice sounded scared. “Jon, she is asleep. Come up here.”
As Jon walked into her bedroom he saw his teacher laying under her beige satin sheets.
“Mom, this is creepy,” he whispered. “Let’s go.”
His mother reached to touch Judith’s arm and shake her.“Let’s call 911. She is unconscious. Do you think she……is dead?”