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Crescendo / Delphine Gauthier-Georgakopoulos

Pianissimo >

They were rehearsing a Mozart concerto.

Viola had recently joined the orchestra. He wasn’t quite good enough, but the chair had been empty.

He shied away behind his music stand, not daring to meet the other strings’ glares. Viola was out of tune. Again. His rhythm was sluggish at best, his vibrato a pathetic attempt sounding like a shaky tremolo.

Piano >

It was a magnificent piece; they all vibrated through the ethereal melody.

But the violins pretended to be bored. ‘Just too easy.’

But the cellos complained, ‘Not very demanding.’

But Viola felt lost; he tried his best. He played along, keeping an eye on both the sheet music and the conductor, who waved his wand in an attempt to harmonise the dissonant strings.

Mezzo Piano >

When the violins and the cellos grew silent, Viola went on, following the sheet music, until he realised he was the only one playing and halted.

The conductor shook his head, pointing his wand at him. ‘No, no, no! Why did you stop?’

‘No one else was playing!’

‘Because you’re on your own here!’


‘Yes. The clarinets will join you later. But you’re the only string playing!’

Why must I always be on my own?

Mezzo Forte >

Viola’s bow dried out in fright. There were twenty violins, a dozen cellos, but he was alone, facing the arrogance of the violins and the sneering of the cellos. No amount of rosin would help him pull this off.

His bow grew slippery, his strings harsh and reluctant to air a melody. The G string went rogue and hindered his progress by snapping. He replaced it quickly, but Viola then needed re-tuning. He blushed with embarrassment as the f-holes glared at him impatiently.

Forte >

The conductor, red-faced, screamed at them to start again. He turned his hirsute head and bloodshot eyes from the violins, to the viola, to the cellos, hunched down, and exhaled. ‘Again, from the beginning.’

When the violins and the cellos stopped playing, Viola breathed faster and continued, following the sheet music, his nervous hand creating a natural vibrato. At first, he played pianissimo, then piano, then mezzo-piano.

‘Crescendo! Crescendo! Crescendo!’ The maestro’s lifted arms encouraged him.

Fortissimo >

He played forte, then fortissimo. His vibrato soared through the amphitheater. His fellow instruments stared in awe at the unexpected musical notes rising, at the unexpected pure melody, at the unexpected grace speaking to their soul.

When the solo finished, Viola, out of breath, didn’t dare to look up. He had lost himself in the music—pure joy. The bows broke the silence when they clapped on the music stands presto.


DELPHINE GAUTHIER-GEORGAKOPOULOS is a Breton writer, teacher, mother, nature and music lover, foodie, dreamer. She loves butter, needs coffee, hates easy opening packaging, and likes to create stories in her head. She lives in Athens, Greece. Twitter & Facebook at @DelGeo14. Website:

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