Piano Concerto Number One, Beethoven
Thin light from the corridor seeps through the doorway, across the linoleum to the tray table at the foot of my white-sheeted bed. A voice up the hall murmurs, stops, is answered by another nurse. Shifting about to take weight off the intravenous line, I keep my eyes fixed on the green-lighted pulse of the monitor at the head of the bed. Your PVCs, she says (premature ventricular contractions, the hiccups of an aberrant heart that just might attack again with sudden ferocity). She takes my arm, fingers around the wrist. They’re speeding up, she says, wrinkling her brow. Outside the high, brick facade of the music hall, curtains of blowing snow billow and curl around the corners of the building; cars slowing to a crawl of headlights. Heavy wool hats, overcoated shoulders dusted with snow, shuffling slowly into the hall, black shoes glistening with meltwater, heels whitened with salt. The chandeliers high above go dim and the waves of his music–delicate, fanciful almost to frivolity, then rising, thrusting, demanding–sweep the players and the listeners into one rounding rhythm. Second-row violinist, young and dark, her cheeks red, leans forward from her chair, mouth open, bow held straight out, captured by the chords of the pianist–his grey hair waving and bobbing over the keyboard. The pulse of the music takes the hall, pulling through the seats from proscenium arch to the back of the balcony. Sitting front-left box on the dark red brocade of my straight-backed chair, a thumb on my wrist, I feel the mighty current of Beethoven’s river flow to the steady, delicate music of my heart.