Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid By Janette Miller Chapter 2 part 4

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid by Janette Miller

Chapter 2 Where? Part 4

Performance, any performance is like consummating a marriage. Here was an middle aged, performance hardened experienced man and a young, inexperienced girl of whom King actually knew nothing, performing in front of this knowledgeable audience and neither of them had really met let alone practiced. Simon knew at that moment that he had taken one hell of a risk. It could be a disaster for both of them.

It was just like consummating an arranged marriage in public. Both had to get on with it, like another famous couple, a young Marie Antoinette and her young husband, many years ago in France, in very public public.  It took Louis XVI many years but for King and Antoinette the moment had come.

Antoinette stood still and composed while Simon played page after page of the introduction. It was very long and seemed even longer to Antoinette who had never heard it before and keeping his fingers crossed Simon gave the eye signal and four bars later in Antoinette came dead in pitch and singing like an angel.

Audiences then were unused to the untrained, natural female voice. There was little call for it. Composers never wrote for young girls only choir boys and because of no audio enhancement young girls had to trained to become hooting  hollering sopranos so the freshness of the sound that came out of her mouth was like a breath of magic. The audience sat stunned as they listened for perhaps the first time, to the beauty a young girl’s voice.  The Pied Piper part had not done Antoinette justice but Wagner certainly had.

The piece was over and both Antoinette and Simon were overcome with relief. He got up and kissed her and said  “Thank you, thank you so much. I am just so sorry I put you through this.” Then he took her had and squeezed it as only an intimate can. His handshake said “Thank you we are artistic equals and I admire you! You may be just 14 but not many singers could do what you did for me tonight ”

Simon led her forward to take her applause and she curtseyed so beautifully and gracefully and gently without smiling as if to say to the audience “for me? This is for me?” Then still in the deep curtsey she raised her head and smiled at the audience, flashing her eyes from side to side , taking in the house and the house responded and went absolutely wild with applause and encores.

“I think we must ask for an encore!” The Royal host demanded and amid the uproar Antoinette looked a Mr. King and said ‘Do you mean I have to do this again?”

“I am afraid so” said Mr. King “Sorry, but you’ll enjoy this time. We both shall enjoy it this time” and they did. This time they knew what they were doing and the music took them to a different world away from the crowds.

It was over, again rapturous applause. King arose from the piano, took Antoinette’s hand and said while shaking it softly. “I really enjoyed that, thank you, thank you so much!” Simon King's admiration for this young lady who had done him proud under the most difficult circumstances was boundless. Miss Miller had definitely put Tring in his place, even Tring could not top her  performance that night!

A kiss on the forehead, lots of curtseys  and that was it.  Antoinette Miller left for London with her parents the next morning.

“The audience certainly seemed to like her” said a flustered Tring the next day. "Pity she is not a boy!”

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 3 Part 1 The Halt by the Brook can be found here

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