Letter retrieved from the instrumental section of the New York Philharmonic

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Dear Mrs. Viol,

I am Colonel Bassoon from the First Woodwinds division of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Company B.

I have an important message to deliver
from the Conductor of the Philharmonic
regarding First Sergeant Stradivari Violin.

The conductor has asked me to express his deepest regret
that your husband was killed in action
in Vienna on the 7th of May, 1824.
The entire orchestra extends our deepest sympathy
to you and your family for this tragic loss.

The circumstances around his death were as follows:

We had been running drills for weeks.
The symphony surge was finally upon us,
and each instrument had to ensure he/she
was ready to play the piece ahead.
Some said the composer went crazy
creating the masterpiece.
Others claimed he had lost his hearing,
whipping his sheet music into a frenzy
just to feel the notes in his bones.

But Strad didn’t believe them;
he thought the symphony was genius,
and would stay up nights
tattooing the time signature into his A string.

When the day came to play the 9th,
the Sergeant was positively vibrating.
We took the stage to an audience of thousands,
puppet players following behind our lacquered face.
And onto the podium walked a swarthy conductor
with ravaging white hair and a flicker in his eye
that saw deep into our varnished, wooden souls.

We began the first movement.

It was the piece of the century.
The audience fell out of their seats to get closer
to the sounds of the stage.
They gave a standing ovation that resonated in our chambers.
They had their handkerchiefs pressed against their ears
to keep the music from escaping.
And wiping the last wisps of horsehair off his bridged brow,
Sergeant Violin took a bow.

No one saw Beethoven as he approached the orchestra pit.
No one noticed when he took the Sergeant from his pet musician.
And it was too late by the time he raised Stradivari above his head,
to smash him in a supernova of stardust.
The composer could not hear his music,
but he loved it to see the splinters fly.

Again, Mrs. Viol, on behalf of the entire Symphony Orchestra,
please accept our deepest condolences for your loss.
He was priceless.

Yours,

Colonel Bassoon from the First Woodwinds division of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Company B

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