When I lived in Vienna twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to find an apartment not too far away from one of Mozart’s houses in Domgasse and Beethoven’s fourth-floor apartment in the ‘Pasqualati House’, on the Mölkerbastei – part of the fortifications that used to surround the city. I often walked around each area, trying to soak up their music.
One day, my partner [ now my husband] and I went to Domgasse 5 to visit Mozart’s grand house which was six storeys high. In one large room, I was transfixed by Mozart’s piano which had a grill covering the keys.
I inched towards it, looking around for any lurking attendants and was delighted to see none. I reasoned with myself, when would I ever have this chance again? When could I ever say, ‘I played Mozart’s piano in Mozart’s house? What was the worst thing that could happen? I thought. While David was studying a beautiful Grandfather Clock, I glanced around and removed the grill. He suddenly turned around and stared at me in horror. ‘You can’t do that!’ he hissed frantically. ‘You could be arrested!’ ‘It’s worth it,’ I answered as I sat down.
Within seconds he had disappeared from the room, obviously not wanting to share my fate. I started playing the piano and for one glorious moment, it was just me and Mozart, until I heard the thunder of pounding feet up the stairs and into the room. I stood up as two uniformed guards glared at me and screamed at me in German telling me that I ought to thrown into prison. ‘Are you too stupid to read the signs saying don’t touch? We are going to call the Bundespolizei and demand that you are locked up!’ I kept shaking my head, saying repeatedly ‘I don’t understand, I don’t understand.’ I kept up this mantra for a long time. They looked at each other and one of them put a finger near his head and made a circle. I was obviously unhinged. The other one said in abrupt English. ‘You are a very stupid woman who should learn to speak German. Shut up, get out and never come back!’ I was tempted to say ‘ I don’t understand’ but I thought that might be pushing my luck. I ran out of the house and danced down Domgasse chanting to myself in delight ‘ I’ve played Mozart’s piano! I’ve played Mozart’s piano. ‘
This is the only time I’ve touched something precious, but I wanted to touch a little of Mozart’s magic so much that I couldn’t resist.
Has there been something you couldn’t resist too?