Stories about people's Für Elise experiences

The Homeless Man That Taught Me Fur Elise

This story was submitted by Jeremy and was added around February 2007.

Having written a children's play to be performed at Christmas, I placed an ad in the local newspaper. "Big hearted musicians wanted, for children's Christmas play." There were 30 responses. Many of them were high level professionals willing to donate their time to the project, we needed only 3.

One walked out when he learned the play was about the Christmas message. The rest stayed for tea and muffins as we chatted. As the night wound down and we closed the meeting, some of us helped tidy up the room donated to us by the church. I carried some things out back to the garbage cans in the alley. It was there that I saw an old man, with long unkept white hair and beard, thin as a rail, rummaging through the trash.

"We have some muffins inside, if you'd like some?" I offered...

"Oh, that would be wonderful." he exclaimed.

As someone was fetching our new friend John, some hot tea and muffins, he sat down at the piano and began to play the most beautiful music. Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, all the classics, all from memory, flawlessly.

Everyone stood in awe, moved with such tenderness and emotion by the music.

As a young boy, his father had taken him to piano and church. The father was a millionaire but died when the lad was but 14. Heartbroken, he was shuttled under the care of a gruff aunt, where his life became one of misery. From then on, he lived on the streets, without proper shelter or warmth. When he turned 19 he received a large sum of money, soon wasted on drink and the friends it brings. Then another 10 years on the streets until another sum of money came, again wasted. John lived like this into his old age.

But the music never left him.

That night, hearing Fur Elise, like many have said, it's like I've always known it. It resonates within the heart and mind, a familiar piece, is it some music from heaven that we are strangely drawn to? Was Beethoven merely a conduit through which this beauty flowed?

Sitting with John at the keys, he guided me through it, the opening bars, what a blessing to be able to play it yourself. Alas, without practice, I can no longer remember how.

I saw John the other day on the street, it's been 20 years, he looked as if he hadn't aged at all. Most would think he rambles like a senile street person, but I bet he knows that music still. Perfectly treasured in a secret place in his heart, this world can't touch.

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