Stories Behind the World's Great Music
ON A CERTAIN morning in the year 1808, an orchestral rehearsal is taking place at the Imperial Convict in Vienna. Don't be deceived by the name of Convict. It means the excellent school at which choir-boys are trained for the Royal Chapel, headed by the veteran Salieri. The coach of the student orchestra is old Ruzicka, teacher of harmony, a solid musician of the traditional type, and a stern taskmaster. He is facing a mixed group of youngsters, all very much in earnest, armed with a variety of instruments. Up front, at the head of the first violins, is big Joe Spaun, a natural leader among the boys.
They are playing, at sight, a symphonic movement by Haydn, and, as the music rises rather unsteadily, Spaun becomes aware of an unusually good violinist behind him. Whoever he is, this boy has more accuracy, more tonal