Finn, December 24th, 2017

Finn couldn’t help but think back to the first time he had ever told the Mozart story, exactly ten years ago this date. Back then, his grandfather had made him do it and while Finn also remembered the nervousness and anxiety that had come with the commitment, it was now one of the things he was most grateful for. Over the years, telling this story had become his favourite tradition and he had made it a point to tell the story to his family every Christmas Eve, but also to his friends, when they held their annual gift-giving ceremonies a couple of days after Christmas had actually passed. After all, the story had been a family heirloom he took great pride in, for his entire life he had believed it to be a figment of his grandfather’s or maybe even a more distant ancestor’s imagination. It had only been very recently that Finn had had to discover that his family was by far not the only one who knew about the story, which – in turn – had upset him more than he was willing to admit. An intensive research had even shown that the story existed in multiple languages and cultures, the plot only varying slightly from version to version. Every now and again, it focused more or less on the relationship between Wolfgang and his sister Nannerl, or talked about some magical godmother creature, who helped to create the melody, while the siblings managed to create it all on their own in his version of the story. For a while, Finn had taken great interest in finding the different variations of the stories and comparing them in as many languages as he was able to understand or find somebody to help translate. Now, the first year after the discovery of the international popularity of the story, it felt extra weird to sit down in front of his family to recite it once again. Finn almost felt as if he should pay tribute to the other versions by implementing some of their elements into his own story, but his stubbornness and pride convinced him to tell the story the way his grandfather had always told it to him; the way he had told it for the last ten years:

“Even though many years passed by in which Wolfgang tried and failed to produce a working piece of music, he never gave up trying, until he turned from boy to young man and from wunderkind to renowned composer. His family had gone on tours, visited Vienna multiple times, before Wolfgang found himself in the room again in which he had first tried to play the notes he had had so much trust in many years ago. Over time, while his own sister had often times begged him to stop obsessing over a ridiculous childhood dream such as theirs, Wolfgang had never stopped believing he would one day be able to move heaven and earth to compose the single most beautiful and magical piece of music known to mankind –“

“So glad he wasn’t at all arrogant or smug”, Chloé interrupted, as she always did at this point, a crooked smile painted on her face, which exposed her as Finn’s sister almost immediately. Finn himself looked at his sister with mock exasperation for having been interrupted, which only caused her to giggle harder.

“As I was saying”, he started again, sticking his tongue out to her like the little child he was proud to have remained in his heart: “Wolfgang was sure he would be able to compose a melody so special and magical it would transport him and his sister out of this world and right into a kingdom in which they could live freely and without their father orchestrating their every move.

“It was yet again Christmas time in Vienna, when Wolfgang started playing a melody he had stuck in his head the entire journey. Generally, it wasn’t unusual for him to have ideas while travelling, but this time it had physically hurt him not being able to put his hands onto the keys of his piano. And now, as he finally did, the music seemed to be streaming out of his fingers as if the notes themselves could not bear to stay hidden within his head for even a second longer and so he played and played, his eyes closed and his mind open to whatever note would find its way into it next. He remained like this for the better part of an hour, playing and playing as if his life depended on it and only stopping when the last note had excited his brain in a dramatic finale. It was then that he opened his eyes and found that night had fallen over the world. Stars were glittering high above his head and it took a minute for Mozart to understand that him seeing the stars also meant that he wasn’t in a room anymore. Suddenly, he could feel the softness of grass underneath his shoes and the fresh breeze of a wind in his hair. He could hear somebody singing to the melody he had just played and generelly felt as if a big weight had been lifted of his shoulders.

“’Wolfgang? Are you there? Wolfgang, what happened?’, it took all his concentration to focus on his sister’s words, who had suddenly appeared in the garden they seemed to be standing in: ‘Nannerl, I did it’, he didn’t manage more than a whisper before falling to his knees and starting to laugh. From this moment onwards the Garden of Stars, as the siblings called their new sanctuary, became their favourite place. Time work differently there, which allowed them to relax for multiple hours without their parents ever noticing them gone and so they started discovering this magical land. It looked like a beautiful garden, with trees and flowers in every possible corner, even though neither of the siblings ever experienced any daylight there. It always seemed to be night and every time they made their way into this land, they were greeted by an army of stars – hence the name, the siblings gave the place. Over the years, both of them visited the Garden of Stars over and over again, Wolfgang writing his most successful operas in this world and sometimes even incorporating elements of the Garden of Stars into some of his compositions”, Finn stopped a second, contemplating if he should stick to his version of the story or if it would benefit from the knowledge he had gained over the past couple of days. In the end, he decided to keep this one secret to himself. After all, he had had to find it on his own, so everybody else would surely be able to do so as well, if they really wanted. For now, however, he was one of the few people on this planet who knew that Mozart’s Zauberflöte was directly inspired by things that had happened and landscapes he had experienced while in the Garden of Stars.

“Legend has it that Mozart never wrote down this particular melody of fear somebody else could use it to enter the Garden of Stars, a place where he had felt more free and creative than ever before. It is said, however, that some equally as talented people have had similar eureka moments around Christmas time, which permitted them to enter this magical garden as well …”, and with this Finn’s story was done. He had learned more about this childhood tale in the last couple of days than he had in the previous 26 years of his life and yet he felt like he was only just starting to get to the bottom of it. For surely, a story of this kind could not be true? Or could it?

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