Finn, December 24th, 1997
For a second the comfortable silence of Christmas Eve was broken by the striking of the clock. It was 10 PM and for the first time this entire evening a yawn sneaked its way onto Finn’s face. His little sister hadn’t lasted as long and had fallen asleep between her new Barbie dolls and stuffed animals a while ago. Finn, however, had trained an entire year for this moment, secretly staying up past his bedtime, reading hidden books underneath his covers. He had awaited Christmas, not only for the great food and the presents he had wished for, but also to stay up later than he had ever stayed up before and – most importantly – to ask his grandfather for his very favourite story. Throughout the year his Grandpa had only shaken his head silently whenever Finn had wanted to hear the tale before Christmas and even tonight the older man had demanded patience from his grandson, while the family stood around the Christmas tree singing, sat around the table eating the traditional Christmas food and scattered about the living room opening presents and hugging one another. Finn had been especially lucky this year, receiving the Carrera racetrack he had written on top of his wish list, as well as a Matador set, a new book from his favourite series, a Playmobil pirate ship and a new pair of PJs. He had even forgotten all about the story, as he had started to assemble the little plastic pieces to a grand vessel, already dressed in the new nightwear. His sister, Chloé, had tormented them all by playing loudly and wrongly on the little kid version of a piano she had received and had begged Finn repeatedly to play with her and her new dolls after she had grown tired of the instrument. Now, that she slept on the lap of the massive stuffed bear that had waited underneath the tree for her, the room felt a lot quieter and Finn remembered the story for the first time in hours.
His parents and grandparents sat together talking about things the boy was too tired to understand, when he climbed onto his Grandpa’s lap: “Tell me the Mozart story”, he demanded, deliberately ignoring his mother’s request to go to bed. After all, he had waited the entire evening – well, the entire year – to hear the story and Finn was not about to miss out on it.
“Don’t you think the story can wait until tomorrow? You can barely keep your eyes open …”
“No! I’m not tired!”, the boy protested, contorting his face in an effort to suppress another big yawn: “Please, Opa”, he added, snuggling up to the older man.
“Well, alright then”, Grandfather chuckled: “Once upon a time, there lived a boy called Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Very similarly to you he grew up in Salzburg with his sister and parents, but unlike a normal boy he could create magic with his fingers. Not in the way magicians would usually make rabbits appear in their hats or transform paper airplanes into pigeons, but with his hands on the keys of a piano or the strings of a violin. This boy had the magic of music, the ability to make people feel happiness and anger, sadness and excitement through his melodies. He had the power to free an ocean of emotion with a single note on his instruments, yet to his father he mainly possessed a gift to make small musical performances into the golden shimmer of guilders and coins. Greedily, Leopold Mozart used this very talent by shipping his son all over the continent, presenting him like a show pony to archdukes and empresses, selling his wunderkind-talent to princes and queens. And while Wolfgang loved to make music, he was stubborn enough to create his own compositions during performances, infuriating his father and enchanting the audience in equal measures”, for a moment the old man’s voice faded away as he looked with knowing eyes onto his grandson’s figure. It was true that Finn was already halfway immersed into the world of dreams: “Go on …”, he said, nonetheless, not even bothering to open his eyes.
“People all over the continent were celebrating Wolfgang for his talent and while this was exactly what his father had wanted, he only took it as a reason to control his young son even more; mercilessly locking him into his room and forcing him to practice over and over again. It didn’t take long for Wolfgang to start rebelling against Leopold’s strict regimes, though. So, while he let his father believe he was working on new music in his room, he spent the time plotting with his sister, escaping through windows and scouring Salzburg’s street for hidden alleys or secret doors, which could potentially help him escape his father’s tyranny. No matter how many excursions they took, however, Salzburg remained as plain as the sheet music set on top of his piano by Leopold. It was not for months that the siblings focused on a new escape route: after all, what better way of fleeing music’s constraints than using it as their way out …”, the grandfather’s voice quieted again, as he noticed his grandson’s slow, even breath. This time Finn had really fallen asleep. Holding a warm smile on his face, the older man lifted the boy and settled him into his bed, promising to finish the story next Christmas.
In the six years of his life, Finn hadn’t once managed to stay up long enough to hear the story in its entirety and yet, that night he dreamt of enchanted music sheets and faraway kingdoms of music and magic.