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Anton: Chapter 1

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The days drag on, each moment multiplies
Within my wounded heart the pain and sadness
Of an unhappy love and, dark, gives rise.
To sleepless dreams, the haunting dreams of madness
But I do not complain - instead, I weep;
Tears bring me solace, comforted they leave me.
My spirit, captive held by grief, a deep.
And bitter rapture finds in them, believe me.
Pass, life! Come, empty phantom, onward fly.
And in the silent void of darkness vanish.
Dear it to me my love's unending anguish;
If as I die I love, pray let me die.
The Wish by Alexander Pushkin

What a fine man, fine man. He was always considered a respectable character, an outstanding sympathizer with those younger than himself, notably those for whose duty it was for him to teach. And besides that, had a variety of musical talents that made him quite popular in his day.

No, I'm not speaking of Alexander Pushkin.

Anton Stepanovich. He was a genius, and that's a fact.
A man of terrible tragedy.
But let us start at the beginning.

Anton was a musician. He played piano, had some conducting skills which greatly improved the rest of his life, and composed. And as I said before, he was a fine teacher. He was of medium-height, very light brown hair almost on the verge of blonde, and dark brown eyes. He wasn't obsessed with his looks, nor did he wear clothes above his class, but kept as gentleman-like as anyone else. His face was like that of a soldier, very stern, but had the capability to open up with great smiles and laughs, as he had an original sense of humor. But he was of a more weak will than most, more akin to emulating what he saw was right than to use intuition. He was also inclined to musing by himself, thoughts that no one was able to draw out of him.

Anton awoke with a start. There was thunder outside. It was about 6 in the morning, on a muggy September day. He laid back in his bed.
"So," he thought. "This is what marks my beginning."
This day would mark the beginning of a new era of his life.
Although it was still too early to leave the house, Anton got up to get dressed. The maid a floor below was already up and working, so Anton came downstairs to see her.
"Oh! You're up early, sir! Didn't sleep well, I figure?"
"No, I didn't. But how can I when... I'm already off on a huge career before me today?"
"Indeed. The best of fortune to you. Don't let those students get the better of you!"
Anton didn't respond.
After having his meal, he meditated gloomily on his fate.
"Why did I ever pick this job? I mean, it's what I've always wanted to do but... I'm only 21! My students will only be 3 or 4 years younger than me. They won't respect me, that's for sure. That's what happened to Nikolai Andreyevich too, didn't it? He was very young when he started. But... it only got better for him. I guess it will for me too..."
At 8:30, he arrived promptly at the Conservatory from his cab. His hands were shaking as he stepped out. Students were everywhere. Some were indeed only a few years younger than him. It was only months before that he was in their place.
This was the Moscow Conservatory, one of the great cultural centerpieces of Russia. And he would be leading on its heritage as a young professor in Composition, namely Counterpoint and Harmony.
Anton came to his room early, and looked around. It was just as ordinary as his own classrooms back at St.Petersburg, but something did feel different. Perhaps more antique, or more foreign, but it was hard to tell. He sat at his desk and scrutinized every little edge and corner on it.
One by one, students all assembled in the room, taking seats all around, but mostly in the back. Between 17 and 18, they all eyed him suspiciously.
Anton looked at each one of them, but never staring at them too long. He got up, and paced around, looking at his pocket watch repeatedly.
9 o'clock finally struck. The room was silent the whole while, except for Anton's pacing.
He took a deep breath, and looked out at his students.
"Good Morning, gentlemen," he smiled, although it was fake. "My name is Anton Stepanovich, and may we from this day forward come to a mutual agreement of respect and responsibility. I assure you that this class will undoubtedly improve musicianship for all of you, and be of particular help to the composition majors. Music is never more useful when it touches you personally and practically."
No one said anything. Anton frowned.
"So much for a memorized speech," he thought gloomily. "Now where do I go?"
"May I ask you all some preliminary [Why did you say that!] questions, a test of your prior knowledge, as it were?"
No response from anyone again, although one person nodded.
"Who here has heard of a Perfect Authentic Cadence?"
A number of anxious and perplexed expressions came across some of their faces. A few started smiling blandly.
"How about an Antecedent-Consequent phrase? How about Tonicization of the Mediant Key? No?"
Almost all started shaking their heads.
"How about what a treble clef is?"
Many started laughing now. "Yes," a few spoke up finally.
Anton smiled sincerely now. "Well, what would be a better place to start than there? Let us begin."
"Oh God, thank you," he muttered to himself as he turned to the chalkboard.
It was not going to be as hard as he thought.

In a matter of weeks, things were running perfectly well in his class. The students were perfectly respectful, and although very few called him "sir," few would call him by his first name. "Professor" was his title, and that's what it was to be. Anton was absolutely relieved for this.
Nor was he alone in his stand. A man soon befriended him who was a famous composer representing Moscow all around the world.
His name was Piotr Ilyich.