Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Erotic Études Opus VI excerpt by E. L. van Hine
Robert Schumann, the Romantic composer, was a vibrant and complex man. Schumann’s public biography was carefully cleansed by his wife, his survivors, and his friends, but his own letters and diaries give indication of a series of passionate affairs with both sexes that sparked the creative outpouring of music that defined his artistic life. It is from these sources that author E. L. van Hine has imagined an erotic and inspired story of a remarkable, talented man.
The Erotic Études Opus VI recreates many of Schumann's intimate relationships in a series of 18 interlocking stories that span 40 years of his life, beginning in 1834 when he was at the center of both controversy and publicity in Leipzig, Germany. Arranged thematically and told in the first person, The Erotic Études Opus VI parallels the 18 section piano work, 'The Symphonic Etudes,' which was published in 1837 and dedicated to one of Schumann's intimate friends. Compelling, intriguing, and immensely readable, The Erotic Études Opus VI is a story that will stay with the reader, long after the final page has been turned.
The Erotic Études Opus VI
Bristlecone Pine Press, an imprint of Maine Desk LLC (ebook)
ISBN: 978-0-9817464-2-5 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-4116527-4-3 (paperback)
The world changed, the night we met. I was a regular at Coffé Baum, though there was no telling when I would disappear from the table on one of my obscure missions, when inspiration struck me, and I was never questioned on these disappearances. That night, I was at the penultimate moment when my glass was empty, and I hesitated before calling the taverner once again, because I felt an increasing urge to bolt for the evening. Emil had captivated the group with another story I had heard too many times at school, and I was fading into that ennui which tempted me to return once again to my heap of uncompleted work.
And the door opened, letting in a breath of late winter air and shaking the rain off his hat, he came in. I turned on impulse to look, and my breath was arrested by his smoldering gaze, which he turned immediately in my direction, and I cast my eyes down, blushing.
As I feared, Emil had witnessed the brief exchange of glances, and called out his pet name for me. “Skulander, invite him over—don’t you know who that is?”
“What?” I stuttered, all eloquence swallowed by the embarrassment of staring too frankly at a stranger. “No—who?”
“That’s Schuncke—the best klavier virtuoso in Germany!” he whispered fiercely, probably hoping the youth would hear him.
Nicola, always most garrulous when drunk, shouted from our table: “You there—the pretty blond!” And since he was the only one to have just entered the room, Schuncke turned toward the voice. “Let us offer you a drink at our table. Pianist, aren’t you?” Nicola persisted.
He smiled, and came over. Oh, when he smiled. And looked at me. “You’re Schumann, right? The composer? You’re the one I came to see.” His voice was low-pitched, the diction, a hint of Schwäbisch, but distinctly High German. I nodded, blushing all over once again, and he had his hand out long before I came back to myself adequately to shake it. “They said I would find you here most nights. If I came late.”
“It is definitely late!” Nicola cut in, leapt up, and pulled over a seat for him between us. Schuncke sat and with deliberate care, pulled his gloves from his hands. His hands…
He smiled gratefully as Nicola, playing host, set a stein of pils before him, and he took it up in his impossibly long fingers. He quickly became occupied answering a round of questions from the overly-informed Nicola about his latest concert tour.
* * * *
“Do you remember?”
I spoke into the silence that followed the intensity of our passion, “Do you remember? The first night you walked into the Coffé Baum?”
Ludwig laughed briefly, low. “You couldn’t stop looking at my hands.” He held his hand out, and I stroked it lightly, sighing.
“So—beautiful…” I whispered, and his hand crept, seemingly of its own accord, up the side of my face as he leaned toward me. “And now, could you stand me again so soon?” he laughed again, and placed his mouth on my own. He was never sated, and despite my weariness, I would not refuse him: but he did not await an answer.
I was seized in his facile hands, enslaved to his hungry mouth…but after a brief attempt to arouse me once again, and failing, he leapt up, without a stitch on, and throwing on his robe, announced “There is one thing that revives you faster than a bottle of red wine,” and sat down at the piano. And I knew what he would play: what he always played when I was coy or tired…
“Shh! Not so loud, the Hartsteins will have fits,” I protested, and he objected, not losing the rhythm of the Toccata as he prattled.
“Oh, I would say they have had one round of fits already. You groaned like a dying sow when you came!” he said, and settled into the cadenza, drowning out my half-formed objection.
And as he played, I drifted into a waking dream of his marvelous white hands, his beautiful face, the magnificent energy with which he attacked everything he did…and sooner than I had expected, ended the piece with perfect execution (considering the full darkness in the room,) and with no less energy, pounced as I lay outstretched on the bed, seizing me in both hands as though I were a new composition, and said, “That should have fixed you, I daresay…” And I knew nothing more but the taste of his hot mouth once again upon my somewhat more enthusiastic organ.
“That was not the groan of a dying sow,” I rebuked him, as we shared the smoldering taste of my last cigar between us. His breath caught painfully when he inhaled, and he shuddered with a deep cough. I knew that cough—Julius lay abed all winter with that cough. It was consumption. I said nothing, but grew quiet as the spasm passed, tempted once again to remind him not to smoke. But how could I? If it were the consumption, there was little to be done, and one cigar more or less would mean nothing.
Ludwig. The very image of Friedrich Schiller in life…tall, slender and blond, the curls falling to his shoulders in graceful waves. What enamored me of him more than anything, was watching him play, with the studied aggressiveness of a man certain of his virtuosity. The first night he played for me, he performed the first piano sonata of Chopin. As he completed the final chord, glanced up to see the look upon my face, and in one fluid movement reached over with his left hand to caress my face, and kissed me.
“You are the ideal audience,” he murmured. “Do you want to hear some more, or do you have something else in mind?” Suddenly shy of the attention and of the unexpected kiss, I did not reply, and in the silence, he laughed quietly and took my hands, placing them on his shoulders, his next kiss lingering upon my lips.
“I see you’re the shy type,” he said conversationally, popping my jacket buttons open one by one. I arrested his hand, holding it for a moment, attracted by the sheer lean musculature that could produce such beauty from the piano. “Play something else, first.” He took a breath, and turned, repositioning himself at the keyboard.
“Very well, then. Shall I play something by you?” Without waiting for answer, Ludwig dashed flawlessly through the Opus 1 variations, and before I knew it, he finished, resting those beautiful white hands upon the keys, and gazed once again into my face.
“All right then. What now?”
“I wish to be the ideal audience,” I replied, and rose, taking him by the hand.
We undressed one another slowly, interrupting one another with more and more passionate kisses. My heart was beating fast, as I slipped his shirt from his shoulders, revealing his hairless chest, the hollow of his belly…and he whispered hoarsely as he reached the top button of my trousers, “Let me taste you, first,” freeing my already-aroused organ from my clothes. He knelt, grasping it tightly and guided it into his open mouth.
I gasped, and sunk my fingers into his blond curls, steadying myself against the onrush of sensation as my new lover swallowed me whole. For long moments, I could neither think nor speak, as I rapidly approached an unavoidable climax from the pressure of his insistent mouth, and pressed my hand against his shoulder to let him know. But he knew…
“My God,” I groaned as my climax escaped me, and I shuddered from head to foot. The shuddering subsided, and Ludwig stood, smiling a wet smile.
“Fast, but good,” he remarked. “Like a Mendelssohn concerto,” and placed a salty kiss on my mouth.