Robert and Clara Schumann are coming in the afternoon
–God willing, Johannes will not be with them–
and I will play for them my new Nocture. It is,
I believe, my best yet.

It begins with a reverie in B-flat minor,
modulates to D-flat major as a mazurka
theme enters, then the storm enters–
thundering bass and bright stabs of 
light in the upper register.

The piece modulates back to B-flat
minor, as the storm subsides–the 
mazurka theme added as a counterpoint
to the reverie theme.

It ends with a simple 
cadence, the notes of the large
chords rolled, bottom to top,
ending on a B-flat major chord.


Robert and Clara are here. Johannes
Brahms is, of course, with them. We will
have tea, and then it will be time to play.
I take secret delight in knowing the art
that awaits them. Clara, I believe, 
will love the Nocturne best.

I am holding in the joy I feel, 
having done this good work.
The artist does not always
enjoy what he has done, but
this time, the stars aligned–
nature brought forth something
worthy from my heart, through
my fingers, out of the piano.


They hate it. Or, at least,
appeared to do so. Robert
said, “it is a fine work, Frederick,
though not of the same quality
as, for example, your E-flat major

Clara said nothing. This hurt
most of all. She tried to smile, 
but it was only out of 

Johannes, that ass of a boy,
played his new Intermezzo.
It was transcendent. I told him
so, though Robert and Clara
had already showered him 
with praise.

I placed my little nocturne
in the drawer. I shall not
publish it, or play it again.
If I can compose no better than
this, if I cannot judge what is
art, I should put down my pen.

Why should my piano speak,
when there is no one to hear its song?