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 as I inched towards it. 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, looking around 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 love music so much that I just couldn’t resist. Is there something you couldn’t resist doing?