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Song of the Lark

Chapter II.3
ANDOR HARSANYI had never had a pupil in the least like Thea Kronborg. He
had never had one more intelligent, and he had never had one so ignorant.
When Thea sat down to take her first lesson from him, she had never heard a
work by Beethoven or a composition by Chopin. She knew their names vaguely.
Wunsch had been a musician once, long before he wandered into Moonstone,
but when Thea awoke his interest there was not much left of him. From him Thea
had learned something about the works of Gluck and Bach, and he used to play
her some of the compositions of Schumann. In his trunk he had a mutilated score
of the F sharp minor sonata, which he had heard Clara Schumann play at a
festival in Leipsic. Though his powers of execution were at such a low ebb, he
used to play at this sonata for his pupil and managed to give her some idea of its
beauty. When Wunsch was a young man, it was still daring to like Schumann;
enthusiasm for his work was considered an expression of youthful waywardness.
Perhaps that was why Wunsch remembered him best. Thea studied some of the
KINDERSZENEN with him, as well as some little sonatas by Mozart and
Clementi. But for the most part Wunsch stuck to Czerny and Hummel.
Harsanyi found in Thea a pupil with sure, strong hands, one who read rapidly
and intelligently, who had, he felt, a richly gifted nature. But she had been given
no direction, and her ardor was unawakened. She had never heard a symphony
orchestra. The literature of the piano was an undiscovered world to her. He
wondered how she had been able to work so hard when she knew so little of
what she was working toward. She had been taught according to the old Stuttgart
method; stiff back, stiff elbows, a very formal position of the hands. The best
thing about her preparation was that she had developed an unusual power of
work. He noticed at once her way of charging at difficulties. She ran to meet them
as if they were foes she had long been seeking, seized them as if they were
destined for her and she for them. Whatever she did well, she took for granted.
Her eagerness aroused all the young Hungarian's chivalry. Instinctively one went
to the rescue of a creature who had so much to overcome and who struggled so
hard. He used to tell his wife that Miss Kronborg's hour took more out of him than
half a dozen other lessons. He usually kept her long over time; he changed her
lessons about so that he could do so, and often gave her time at the end of the
day, when he could talk to her afterward and play for her a little from what he
happened to be studying. It was always interesting to play for her. Sometimes
she was so silent that he wondered, when she left him, whether she had got
anything out of it. But a week later, two weeks later, she would give back his idea
again in a way that set him vibrating.
All this was very well for Harsanyi; an interesting variation in the routine of
teaching. But for Thea Kronborg, that winter was almost beyond enduring. She
always remembered it as the happiest and wildest and saddest of her life. Things
 
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