D.E. von Grotthuβ :: Freude über dem Empfang des Silberm. Claviers
"Joy upon receiving the Silbermann clavichord"
The dry historic facts:
In 1781, C.Ph.E.Bach sold his by then very famous Silbermann clavichord to Dietrich Ewald von Grotthuss (1751-1786). The master said goodbye to his instrument with a beautiful rondo in E Minor (Click here to listen to it) The young baron answered that with a Rondo in C Major.
And now how the story really was in an alternative "reality":
The young baron Von Grotthuss came home, finally, after months and months of travelling, back in Kurland. He left his coach outside, hobbled inside his house and fell exhausted in the sofa, his arms in length next to him, his tongue almost on his toes, face black from the dust. Dietrich lied there, unable to even think, when he heard the voice from his wife, from deep in the kitchen basement, yelling: daaaarling, is that you?
Her voice sounded harder and especially sharper than he remembered. And certainly shaper than that of little -what was her name again?-. He sighed, bad idea to come home, but since there was no other solution with the precious instrument in the back of his 18th century Rolls, he had to arrive somewhere, sometimes.
The wooden stairway cracked under the weight of his wife coming upstairs, he heard his kitchen staff laughing again, relieved that the lady of the house was gone. He counted the steps, from ten to one. He only arrived at three when he saw her face in the door.
'As you see.'
'Had a good trip?'
Dietrichs finger pointed to the entrance, where two man carried a wooden box inside, asking where they could leave it.
His wife turned around.
'Dietrich!!' she yelled. 'Hadn't I told you NOT to bring anything with you. Ever?? Our house is full of your collections.'
She looked again to her husband.
'It is my house', he replied.
'And my money', she sizzled.
'No explanation needed.' And to the two man: 'bring it back outside and throw it somewhere, no matter where, at the fire wood reserve.'
Dietrich jumped from the sofa, on his two feet, again full of energy.
'Over my dead body!', he said. 'Do you know to whom that instrument belonged? Who built it?? do you, do you?'
'None of my interest.'
His face became high red, his eyes flamed.
'It is a Silbermann!!'
She looked skeptical to him.
'You're kidding?' she asked, suddenly interested.
'No, I am not.'
'And why didn't you write me on that?'
The two men still stood in the hall, staring at each other.
'The master even wrote a farewell for this clavichord.'
'Than you have to write him back. With a piece of yours.'
She left, went to the first floor, leaving the three man in the hall.
One of the carriers looked to Dietrich and said:
'Not that it is any of my business, but I would do that soon.'
'Write that piece.'
'And decide where we can put this thing', said the other. 'It's heavy.'
And so Dietrich did. He wrote a Rondo in C Major, his wife even could smile again the day after, and even listened to the instrument for a while. But Dietrich mostly stared at the Silbermann clavichord, in trance by the sight only of the keys that showed the traces of the great man's fingers, playing it for over 35 years. And, most of all, he tried to immortalize the memory of the great man's playing, at the same clavichord that now patiently was waiting for him to be touched.
And this very "truthful" history continues as follows:
In 1942, the Russian state got an urgent letter of the present owner, begging to bring this instrument to an extremely safe place. And so they did. The name of Bach only was enough to take every measure to put this instrument somewhere safe. Somewhere. And on that location, where it was brought to in 1942, it still is today. I can feel it, I just can...
(P.S. just in case... of course this all is fantasized... but really, is it not great to just assume that this Silbermann clavichord is still somewhere? Who knows, so let's dream...)