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Joseph's Tune
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Joseph's Tune

August 21, 1933

"Sit down!" the admonition came. Eight year old Joseph Ollari turned around in the back seat of the '29 Ford and sat down. He closed his eyes. The car rumbled along the dry, dusty summer road, headed for the city orphanage. He scarcely noticed the sun, as it shone on his closed eyes. He remembered his mother's face, smiling at him. His eyes burned, tears filling them, and a sob caught in the back of his throat. He remembered the woman at the hospital telling him he would never see his mother or father again. He thought of his Aunt Giovanni. He would never see her again either. He remembered the angry face of his uncle as he called the orphanage. Shortly after his aunt's death, his uncle had demanded that the orphanage take Joseph. They came, and Joseph was now with strangers, going to a strange place.

After the car accident that killed both of Joseph's parents, Joseph had been shipped off to live with his mother's younger sister - Giovanni Grant. Never having met her, he knew her only from the tiny picture his mother kept in the tarnished silver frame on her bureau. After Giovanni had married a wealthy business man in Peterborough, NH, the relationship between her and Joseph's mother waned, until Giovanni had nearly forgotten her older sister existed. After learning of her sister's death, she took her nephew Joseph in, but she was too busy with her business affairs to pay him much attention. Giovanni died of a sudden illness in 1933, and with her went any welcome Joseph had in the Grant household.

Two years later, at the age of ten, Joseph was adopted by the Barobys.

Peter and Roberta Baroby were not rich people, but having worked hard in their younger years and then inheriting a rather large sum from Peter's father, they were not badly off at all. They had lost their youngest son in a construction accident before the Great Depression started, and the rest of their children were now grown up and married. Peter was thin and tall, with gray hair, and eyes of a piercing blue. However stern they may have looked at a glance, you soon realized that they were kind, no doubt aided by his quiet demeanor. His wife Roberta wasn't beautiful, but her eyes were attractive, and one never quite felt the same after hearing her blissful laugh ring through the house. She was a few inches shorter than Peter, but her bearing was so elegant and straight that one would have never thought there was a difference. Her light brown hair she kept pinned up in a bun - not the harsh picture that we so quickly conjure up of a mean schoolmarm, but that of a gentlewoman, a kind lady. Roberta’s sister, who worked at the orphanage, had brought Joseph on a visit to their house. Roberta had thought his expression was that of utter misery, so sad, and so innocent. Her heart had felt torn for him. After a few weeks, the Barobys had decided that they ought to do something more with the small fortune they had been blessed with, and Joseph came to their house to live in October of 1935.

November 29, 1939

The school bell sounded the end of another day. The rain had stopped and the late September sun was shining brightly. The doors of Brookstone academy opened a moment later and the usual rush of boys and girls poured out. One boy came after the others, walking slowly. He held 3 or 4 books in his left hand, and was preoccupied with examining a small poster in his right hand. His brown hair that had been neatly combed to the side that morning was now falling on his forehead, the clothes that had been spotless and ironed were now bearing the signs of a long recess taken that afternoon.

"Wait up there a minute ole pal Joseph. Whatcha reading there?" The paper he had been so intently focused on was snatched from his hands. He looked up and saw one of his classmates, William Burg, with a smirk on his face.

"Give that back to me!" Joseph said in a quiet, but angry voice. In a loud sing-song voice William read the title of the poster.

"Music competition. Winner to take instrument of his choice from line of professional King models and one hundred dollar US savings bond."

"Give it back!" Joseph cried, this time with pleading in his voice.

"Ha," retorted William in a taunting laugh, "You don't need that trash, not you. I say, why don't we just put it here and it'll be put to better use." He threw it in the street, and with a sharp cry Joseph ran into the street after it. William beat him to it, and tore it up in front of him.

"There's your contest." said William with a sneer in his voice. He ran off leaving Joseph by himself. Joseph's eyes stung. How he hated the way his schoolmates treated him! As the tears threatened to brim over he turned and ran the rest of the way home, not stopping to look behind him.

1207 Greely Ave, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Baroby. Their house wasn't a large one, but it stood there looking stately in the neighborhood in comparison to the smaller, more modern houses surrounding it. Two white pillars adorned the porch, and black shutters accompanied each large window. The lilac bushes in the front yard stood, their blossoms having been cut off long ago, their leaves beginning to fall. An aged rocking chair sat deteriorating on the porch, and two flower pots sat on either side of the stately doorway. Vines were growing on the lattice underneath the porch, and the grass looked as though it hadn't been clipped in some time.

Joseph stepped up onto the porch and opened the door. He started up the stairs, headed to his room to practice playing his trumpet.

"Joseph? Is that you?" Called a woman's voice. Mrs. Baroby could be heard walking across the dining room, the slight rustle of her skirt just brushing the floor. Her head appeared in the hall doorway as Joseph stopped halfway up the stairs. "It's me," he said.

As she walked down the hall towards him she clucked her tongue and said "It is 'I' my boy, you mustn't forget it. How many times have I reminded you?" She was too far away to notice the tear streaked face and the muddy clothes.

"Your father wants to have a word with you." She said. As soon as she left the hall Joseph ran up the stairs.

"Joseph!" Peter Baroby said from behind his desk, as his adopted son stepped into his study.

"I've decided - that is, your mother and I have decided, that it would be best for you to switch schools." Joseph looked up in surprise.

"Would you like that, Joseph?"

"Yes sir!" Joseph replied, his eyes beginning to brighten.

"You'll have to board near the school, and it will be quite a change from what you're used to here. The academia will be a bit harder, but I'm sure you'll do fine." His father continued. Joseph remained silent - partly because he was thinking about what these new changes would bring about, and partly because he was so surprised. As his father went on with the details of the curriculum, Joseph barely heard. He, at boarding school!

"You'll be studying with Master Friedman - he's the director of musical studies there. I hear he's quite an accomplished musician." Joseph could barely contain his excitement. His mouth opened.

"So you agree to go then?" His father asked, tilting his head down and looking at Joseph over his spectacles.

"Do I!? Why yes sir!" For a moment Joseph could think of nothing to say. His father stood up, walked to the door and called his wife to tell her the news.

Joseph left the next month, bound for Greenwood. Mrs. Baroby sent Joseph off with a basket of sandwiches and a hug, Mr. Baroby with a firm handshake. As Joseph boarded the train, Mr. Baroby looked Joseph in the eye and said "Do your best." Joseph nodded. The last sight he had of them was Mrs. Baroby waving her handkerchief, standing on the platform with Mr. Baroby, one arm around his wife, the other waving at Joseph.

September, 1941

The school bell rang, reminiscent of the old bell at Brookstone some two years ago. A tall, thin young man shut his book and slipped it into the book bag under his desk.

"Master Baroby." Mr. Peabody said the word 'Master' with an extra edge to his normally thin, nasally voice. His face matched his voice. His glasses seemed to be permanently hanging low on his nose - which itself always seemed to be lifted in disdain. Joseph stopped and turned.

"Sir?" Joseph said. Mr. Peabody took a step closer to him before answering, and looked around the classroom at the other students who were packing up their books to leave, as if to gain their attention.

"This is your paper from last week. You have earned a C. Your academic studies show much to be desired. What a shame. Those teachers of yours down at the arts hall should understand there's more to life than that silly trumpet of yours." Mr. Peabody said. He stepped back with a smirk on his face. Joseph heard the laughter of the students who were still getting ready to leave the classroom. Joseph stood, his face turning red with shame. One boy was left, he smiled at Mr. Peabody and walked to the desk of the teacher. He handed him a few papers and Mr. Peabody's smile became as wide as his face was. He patted the student on the shoulder and looked at Joseph.

"You should learn from Rupert. He's our star pupil." Joseph grabbed the graded paper and ran, not stopping until he was well past the school. The cool fall breeze felt good on his hot cheeks. He passed a group of girls, on the sidewalk.

"<i>Hello</i>, Joseph.", one girl said, the others waiting to see his reaction. He nodded at her, and then walked hurriedly past, nearly tripping himself on the sidewalk. The girls laughed at him, turning their attention to another, more popular male student who was coming their way.

As he neared his home, he heard the strains of the organ grinder, one street over. He smiled, forgetting for a moment the incident with Mr. Peabody and the girls on the sidewalk. The music reminded him of the songs of Mr. Friedman's homeland, that he had taught Joseph to play.

When Joseph had first come to Greenwood, Mr. Friedman had invited him to dinner with his family. Joseph hadn't been sure what to expect, but he had gone feeling a sense of duty to the man who was to be his music teacher. When he arrived he was greeted by Mr. Friedman's wife, a tall woman with a kindly smile and the same German accent as her husband, and his daughter Isabella. Isabella was a year younger than Joseph and studied at home with her mother. She captivated Joseph with her long wavy brown hair and sparkling green eyes. The first time he had met her he had been rendered nearly speechless. He managed a "How do you do?" and then stood looking at her, feeling very much a fool, not knowing what held him so. She had laughed, and asked him how he liked Greenwood. At the end of the evening, Joseph found himself trying to think of a way to see Isabella again. He was shocked that he would feel this way. But she was not like the other girls. No girl he had ever met made him feel so. And those eyes that seemed to dance every time she laughed!

After the meal, Isabella had put on a record of Mendelssohn, and they spent the evening listening to music and talking about every day things. Joseph learned that Mr. Friedman and his family had left Germany fleeing the persecution of those who resisted the government.

"Where do your parents live Joseph?" Mrs. Friedman had asked. Joseph paused a moment.

"They're dead," Joseph said. Mrs. Friedrich looked at her husband.

"They were killed when I was young, in a car accident." Joseph finished.

"Ach, I'm sorry my boy!" Mrs. Friedman said, with a catch in her voice. This was not the first time Joseph had heard sympathy expressed about his parent's death. Yet it was different with Mrs Friedrich. Mrs. Friedman's grief seemed genuine in a deeper way that anyone else's had been. For a moment Joseph felt tears welling up inside of him, and was nearly overcome by emotion, though it showed little on his face. Unknown to Joseph, Mrs. Friedman was remembering her own parents. Fighting for their freedom they had been killed by the Gestapo when she was young. She felt the pain Joseph did, but she told him nothing of her parents death. Instead she reached for his hand across the table and squeezed it, smiling, with tears in her eyes.

In a short time, Mr. Friedman began see something in Joseph that the other boys did not have, even the other orphans he had known through the years. He saw the pain in his eyes, the pain that so mirrored his own past. Yet there was something in this kind of pain that made music all the more beautiful. Living without beauty or love for so long, one are able to appreciate it so much more when it is finally granted. When faced with unspeakable tragedy, some die of heartsickness, others become mindless, but still others have spirit of perseverance. They have stubborn hearts that know through the pain that love still exists somewhere. Some are not even aware that it is love they seek, yet they still seek, hungering for it. Whether they know it consciously or not, they realize that there is love in this place that God had created to be so beautiful, and that it is only the sin of those who care nothing for it that would destroy it and its inhabitants. Mr. Friedman knew that Joseph had a stubborn, persevering, willing heart.

Mr. Friedman had spent countless hours teaching Joseph the history of music, and the beauty in music that is so often missed in the fast paced world we live in. Joseph loved it. His mind drifted to the piece he was working on that week. Joseph opened the white picket gate surrounding the boarding house yard with one hand, pausing to wave politely at a neighbor. He entered the house and ran up all of the stairs to his third floor room, his feet making a racket on the old wooden steps. He opened a door that revealed a nearly empty dormer. There was a small set of drawers opposite his bed, which was spread with his own thin blanket and the quilt Mrs. Baroby had made for him. He missed his parents. His summer visit had been cut short when the Barobys' grandson had been killed in a farming accident in Missouri. Their son and daughter-in-law were devastated, and the Barobys had gone to Missouri, planning to stay for several months. They stayed in touch with Joseph through numerous letters. Their last letter informed Joseph that their daughter-in-law was expecting a child and decided to stay longer. They sent him their love, and promised to be back by the time school was out in the spring.

There was a small round window to the left of the bed. Pulled up close to the window was a music stand, and next to the stand was a small stack of music. Next to the bed there was a tattered case, marked with tarnished brass letters. C-O-N-N.

Joseph set his books down on the set of drawers and opened the case. He closed his eyes and ran his fingers over the tarnished brass, ignoring the dents and the scratches. He imagined it shiny as gold, without a dent or scratch. He sighed, as he positioned the music stand and put the trumpet to his mouth. He played.

"Joseph!" Mr. Friedman called. He motioned animatedly with his arms for Joseph to come see him. Joseph's face lit up at the sight of him, and he made his way down the hall to the door of the music room.

"I have special announcement to make today!" Mr. Friedman said. Joseph had noticed that his music teacher tended to miss words when he was excited, or nervous. As Joseph asked "What is it?" the school bell rang, and Mr. Friedman hurried Joseph back down the hall.

"I tell you later, hurry now or you'll be late." Joseph turned to leave and returned to his classes with mixed feelings. Certainly it was something good Mr. Friedman had to tell him, yet he couldn't imagine what news his teacher had.

Mr. Friedman thumbed through pages of handwritten music on his desk. He stopped and frowned. He thought a moment, humming to himself, and then reached down with his pencil and wrote something in the music. He glanced at the clock. Classes were almost over, Joseph would be there in a minute or two. Joseph was a bright spot at the school for Mr. Friedman, and he looked forward to telling him about the good news. Mr. Friedman had the opportunity to select one of his best musicians participate in a contest in Boston in May, the prize being five hundred dollars. Mr. Friedman knew Joseph had worked hard. He had practiced diligently. He deserved a chance to prove himself.

"Mr. Friedman." Joseph said, coming in so quietly he nearly startled the man.

"Hello Joseph!" Mr. Friedman replied. "I have very big news for you." He motioned to a seat, and Joseph sat beside him. Mr. Friedman leaned a little closer to Joseph and raised his eyebrows, as he had a habit of doing when explaining something.

"I have learned there is a music competition in Boston, they have asked me to choose a student to participate. I have chosen you to represent the school." Mr. Friedman said quietly, with a gleam in his eyes.

"Me? Joseph said. "Why, there are a dozen others who play as well as I."

"Ah, that is not true. But my boy even if it was, you have something else the others do not." Joseph pondered this a moment. What did he have the other students did not? They had parents. And money. And friends. Mr. Friedman interrupted his thoughts, "Don't look so worried my boy!". His eyes crinkled up in a big smile. "Here is the music they have chosen." Joseph reached for the music.

"The prize is five hundred dollars." Mr. Friedman said. Joseph'a mouth dropped open. Then he caught a glance at the music. His mouth remained open but his eyes lost their excitement.

"But look at the music! I- I don't think I can do it." He said. Mr. Friedman sighed, and began to tell Joseph a story.

"Joseph, there was once a young man who's father worked at a mine. Everyday he would meet his father at the mine with lunch and stay until his father had to go back to work. One day his father took him through the inner workings of the mine. He showed him the levers in the control room. They had an emergency lever that would alert the men to evacuate in the case that a shaft should become unstable. He told the boy the red light would blink if a main support was collapsing. A few weeks after this the boy came to the mine, early and walked down to the control room. The boss was seated in a chair, passed out, a bottle of whisky still clutched in his hands. The boy happened to glance over and he saw the emergency light flashing. He remembered his father's words. The men were in danger! He went out and yelled for help. No one answered. Desperate, he ran back in the control room, took the lever in his hands and pulled. Nothing happened. He pulled harder. Still nothing. He pulled until the veins stood out on his arms. He stood back. "I can't do it!", he said. He cried out in despair. He knew the men - and his father - would perish if he did not succeed. Their lives were in his hands. He paused, setting his feet firmly on the ground, he grasped the lever in both hands, seeing only his father's face, he pulled with every muscle in his body. The lever moved slowly at first, and then suddenly let go, the boy sprawling backwards. Afterwards he was praised for being so strong and so brave, but he knew he was not strong. He had done it because all he could see was his father coming home to him again alive." He looked at Joseph with pleading in his eyes.

"You too, Joseph, are strong beyond what you think you can do. You can play this piece. You will win the contest."

Later that evening Joseph returned to his residence, the small room with the round window. He scarcely noticed the lady of the house looking at him when he entered. He walked up the stairs slowly this time, too busy thinking to run. He wondered if it was too much to hope. Too much to ask of life. When he reached the top step, he turned the door handle slowly and opened the door. It creaked open. The sunlight streamed in, bright yellow and orange. He looked out the window. The sky was breathtaking. A single bird sang a tune. All at once he knew what he must do. He would play. He would overcome this piece, this piece that would win the contest.

Joseph worked many weeks with his teacher. The morning was, of course, filled with classes, which Joseph now saw as an necessary evil. The afternoons were spent with Mr. Friedman coaching him, and his evenings were spent alone, playing until no light remained in the little round window. Autumn passed, with its brilliant leaves and bite in the air, merely hinting at the cold weather that was ahead. The days grew shorter. Winter came, it became cold. So cold some days, that upon picking up his trumpet, the valves would be frozen stiff. But still he played. Isabella had given him a pair of gloves she had made, with the fingers open and cut short. Joseph had discovered a way to see Isabella. Each week he stopped at the Sunday service at the little white church on the corner near the school. He always found her sitting in the same pew with her parents, near the front. Each week Isabella would smile at her father, with those green eyes and Mr. Friedman would nod at Joseph, giving him permission to walk her home.

Mr. Friedman worked tirelessly, giving to Joseph his energy in their unified goal of winning the contest. But one day Mr. Friedman didn't show up at school. One of the other teachers had a message for Joseph. Not feeling well. I will see you on Monday. It was signed by Mr. Friedman. Joseph was troubled. Mr. Friedman had never been ill before. Besides that, he felt alone. It was Friday. He thought of going to visit Mr. Friedman. He would see Isabella again! But then maybe it was better to give Mr. Friedman a rest. Why, the man had been spending all his time teaching him, surely he must be tiring of it! He decided to wait to see Mr. Friedman until Friday. He walked home and practiced through out the rest of the evening.

The day was quickly approaching. Joseph had played the piece flawlessly already once for Mr. Friedman. Mr. Friedman never failed to have an encouraging word for Joseph. Joseph in turn gave Mr. Friedman his all. Still, something had changed in Mr. Friedman since the sudden illness that had kept him from working. Many days Joseph would notice a shortness of breath, and Mr. Friedman would wave off Joseph's inquiries with an "I'm fine, don't worry about me." Joseph would worry, especially when some days Mr. Friedman had to pause on his walk from the music room to the exit down the hall. "Go on ahead!", he would always say, but Joseph would never leave his side. Joseph stopped staying late in the afternoon, and started practicing at home after his lesson was over.

One week till the competition. Mr. Friedman&#8217;s smile was as wide as Joseph had ever seen it, but he noticed the dullness in his eyes and the weakness in his step.

"We have nearly done it, Joseph! Seven days to go." Mr. Friedman said.

"I can hardly believe it!" Joseph replied. "Mr. Friedman, thank you so much." Joseph found himself nearly throwing himself at Mr. Friedman, wrapping his arms around him. Mr. Friedman patted Joseph on the back, pulling away and looking at Joseph's face.

"You have done so well. I scarcely imagined that we would make it to this day." Joseph frowned.

"But Mr. Friedman, you told me I could play it." He said.

"Ah, but you did not believe you could do it. If you didn't believe you could do it, we would never

have made it to this day. I knew you had something, but I wasn't sure of your commitment until I saw you practice twice what you used to, until I saw you sacrifice your lunch hour for more practice, and when I passed your house and saw the light burning in the window, and heard your playing drifting down through the night sky." Mr. Friedman said. He fell into a fit of coughing. Joseph stood, unsure of what to do, or say. When Mr. Friedman stopped coughing, he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped perspiration from his forehead. Joseph noticed how pale he was, despite the blood that had risen to his face from the coughing fit. Mr. Friedman sat back in his chair.

"Is there anything I can get you?" Joseph asked. Mr. Friedman shook his head. Then he paused, remembering something.

"Yes, there is something you can get me. Get me that bag." Joseph got the bag and handed it to Mr. Friedman. Mr. Friedman unbuttoned the bag and drew out a folder of music. His hands trembled as he put it in Joseph's hand. He drew Joseph's free hand over the music, and held it there. Joseph looked for the title. There was none.

"This is yours, Joseph. When I was in Germany, I wrote the first movement. When I came to America, I finished it. I have written this over many years of my life. It is my life's story. You will know the pain, the suffering, and then the wonderful joy I felt. You will know, I have seen it in your eyes." Mr. Friedman told Joseph. Then he sat back in his chair, closing his eyes. Joseph looked at the music, and then at Mr. Friedman.

"Thank-", he began, his voice breaking. "Thank-you", Joseph said, in barely a whisper. Mr. Friedman smiled.

Joseph strained to see the crowd. The participants would perform for the audience of 400 or more, and then the winner would be announced following the last performer. He didn't see anyone he recognized. He had begged Mr. Friedman to accompany him on the early train to Boston. In the 5 days before the competition, Mr. Friedman health had improved. Although he was still pale, he no longer seemed as if he was gasping for breath, and his coughing fits were fewer. Scanning the audience, Joseph didn't see Mr. Friedman or his wife, or Isabella. Joseph worried. Mr. Friedman had said he would arrive an hour early and meet Joseph in the rehearsal room. When he didn't arrive, Joseph assumed something had kept them, and that they would arrive later in the audience.

What had kept them? The dim impression he had of his parents' automobile accident flashed through his mind. He shuddered, and tried to forget the images that were now imprinted in his mind.

"Are you alright?" Someone backstage asked him. Joseph put on a halfhearted smile.

"I'm fine." he replied. He pushed his way into the crowd of other soloists headed to warm up their instruments. Joseph took a deep breath. He sat down and picked up his trumpet for the hundredth time, fingering the last 16th note run in the piece. His palms were sweaty. He opened up his bag of music and pulled out the piece Mr. Friedman had given him a week earlier. His eyes scanned the music. He had played it many times in the week, nearly to the point of neglecting his competition piece. Suddenly he was struck by an idea. Why couldn't he play the piece Mr. Friedman had given him?! He knew the piece as well as the competition piece, even only knowing it a week, it seemed to come naturally. But then he thought about the months of practicing he had spent on the official piece. He knew he would play the piece he originally had planned to, but it didn't stop him from asking one of the passing judges assistants if such a thing was allowed. The man laughed. "Well for one thing, chances are that the accompanist wouldn't know it. Second, you'd be disqualified. You must play the piece that was assigned to you." "Thank-you." Joseph said quietly, and the man nodded. Joseph returned to his seat, picking up his trumpet nervously. He glanced at the clock. Ten minutes and the competition would begin. He was fourth to perform. He got up and walked to the curtain. Someone spotted him.

"Come back from there! It's too late for that!" but the man walked away as quickly as he came, obviously busy making other preparations for the night's event. Joseph's look at the audience turned up no Mr. Friedman. He sighed, and made his way back to where the participants were lining up. Perhaps Mr. Friedman would show up later with his family.

Joseph sat through the first solo, the young man coming in a measure early twice and somehow remaining out of sync through nearly the entire piece. Joseph would have felt sorry for him, but he was too occupied thinking of what could have happened to Mr. Friedman and thinking miserably that Isabella wouldn't be present. A man dressed in a black suit walked into the room as the third soloist was playing his cadenza.

"Joseph Baroby?" He said, scanning the room. Joseph stood. The man pressed a piece of paper into his hand and leaned to his ear. "Sender says it's urgent." Joseph nodded. Who would send a telegram to him here? His thoughts went to his parents in Missouri, but he knew only Mr. Friedman would know to reach him here. He noticed everyone was looking in his direction. The man remained there. Joseph opened the telegram.

Mr. Friedman took ill this morning after you left. He was taken to the hospital but the doctors were unable to do anything. His last words were "Play, Joseph.", and I know he meant those words.

Play, Joseph.

Mrs. Friedman

Joseph felt faint. The room was melting, his tears blurring his vision. The man who had delivered the paper reached out to steady him. Joseph pushed away, his fists clenched.

"No!" He said, his voice strained and forced.

"I'm sorry.." said the man, his voice trailing off. The occupants of the room all remained somber, well able to guess the contents of the telegram. An accident, a death in the family. Joseph's body trembled, giving way to silent, wracking sobs. Mr. Friedman word's echoed through his mind. "It is my life's story." Joseph stopped crying. He listened. "It is my life's story." He knew what he would do. He set his jaw, and nodded at the man.

"Thank you." he managed. The man nodded back, and left the room. Joseph reached to his side. He pulled out a piece of music.

The audience waited. Joseph whispered something to the accompanist. The accompanist nearly gasped in surprise. "Are you sure?" he asked, noticing Joseph's downcast, tear streaked face. Joseph nodded. He walked slowly to the center of the stage. He put his music on stand. He bowed his head for a moment. The audience began to grow restless. Joseph fought back tears. He closed his eyes. He lifted his trumpet and focused his eyes on the music. He began to play. He filled the entire auditorium with the dark, rich tone of his trumpet, playing such a sad melody that even the eyes of a stony faced man sitting in the back row - if you looked closely - were filling with tears. He played perfectly, the audience not whispering a single word. Joseph felt the pain of the author. The sorrows of which Mr. Friedman had experienced in his childhood. The sorrow of losing brothers and parents. The sorrow of being left, loved by no one. The ache he felt, stabbing at his heart unmercifully should have destroyed him, destroyed his ability to play. Yet he played on. The other competitors watched him from the wings, some of them unable to grasp this pain that Joseph was conveying - unable to know because never having experienced a tragedy this great. Never have experienced a tragedy because they had never loved so much as to know pain. Others knew. They recognized the sorrow. Joseph stopped. He had come to the end of the first movement. He paused. He turned the page. He took a breath. He began. He played, slowly, quietly at first. How familiar was this passage to him! Simple it was, but moving beyond words. This was Joseph now. He felt the familiar reminder of sorrow mixed with the ever more confusing joy that filled his heart at the most unexpected moments. The second movement reached its height, a confusing mix of sorrow and joy. He reached the third movement and it began in much the same way the second one had ended. Joseph knew the music was changing. The joyful melody was emerging from the chains of misery. The sorrow was losing. It wasn't overtaking him. It wasn't winning. It was dying. It was leaving. And some, never having experienced joy failed to understand this change. At the end of the piece, Joseph was oblivious to the audience, lost in his sorrow. The audience was silent. He began to leave the stage. Slowly, over the whole audience, thunderous applause began to rise. The man who had delivered the telegram led Joseph back to the center of the stage, and as Joseph took a bow, the audience rose to their feet. And Joseph tried to smile through his tears, feeling a sense of accomplishment he had never felt before.

Years passed, and Joseph grew up to be a fine musician and trumpet player. More than that he became a kind and loving person, a wonderful husband and father. Five days after his twenty third birthday he married Isabella Friedman and they had four children, of which the Barobys and Mrs. Friedman were thrilled to be grandparents. Joseph never forgot what Mr. Friedman had done for him, and all of his life he treasured not only the piece of music he had been given, but the more important gift Mr. Friedman had shown him, the gift of love. He won many contests, many awards of achievement, and was revered as a great musician, but he knew that even more precious than material things was the love that Mr. Friedman had shown him, the love that God had made so perfectly, the love that surpasses all other things. Many others tried to play the piece, but they never captured what Joseph had captured that night he played at the competition. Mr. Friedman had given Joseph the piece without a name, and Joseph had never named the piece. It was known for ever after as Joseph's Tune.

2005 by Bonnie MacDonald

My apologies for the incorrect indentions.

PLEASE (!) email me with any comments. bonniej(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank-you for reading :)

2005 by Bonnie MacDonald.