'Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician' by Thomas Hardy

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'I was one of the quire-boys at that time, and we and the players were to appear at the manor-house as usual that Christmas week, to play and sing in the hall to the squire's people and visitors (among 'em being the archdeacon, Lord and Lady Baxby, and I don't know who); afterwards going, as we always did, to have a good supper in the servants' hall. Andrew knew this was the custom, and meeting us when we were starting to go, he said to us: "Lord, how I should like to join in that meal of beef, and turkey, and plum-pudding, and ale, that you happy ones be going to just now! One more or less will make no difference to the squire. I am too old to pass as a singing boy, and too bearded to pass as a singing girl; can ye lend me a fiddle, neighbours, that I may come with ye as a bandsman?"

'Well, we didn't like to be hard upon him, and lent him an old one, though Andrew knew no more of music than the Giant o' Cernel; and armed with the instrument he walked up to the squire's house with the others of us at the time appointed, and went in boldly, his fiddle under his arm. He made himself as natural as he could in opening the music-books and moving the candles to the best points for throwing light upon the notes; and all went well till we had played and sung. "While shepherds watch," and "Star, arise," and "Hark the glad sound." Then the squire’s mother, a tall gruff old lady, who was much interested in church-music, said quite unexpectedly to Andrew: "My man, I see you don't play your instrument with the rest. How is that?"

'Every one of the quire was ready to sink into the earth with concern at the fix Andrew was in. We could see that he had fallen into a cold sweat, and how he would get out of it we did not know.

' "I've had a misfortune, mem," he says, bowing as meek as a child. "Coming along the road I fell down and broke my bow."

' "O, I am sorry to hear that," says she. "Can't it be mended?"

' "O no, mem," says Andrew. " 'Twas broke all to splinters."

' "I'll see what I can do for you," says she.

'And then it seemed all over, and we played "Rejoice, ye drowsy mortals all," in D and two sharps. But no sooner had we got through it than she says to Andrew,

' "I've sent up into the attic, where we have some old musical instruments, and found a bow for you." And she hands the bow to poor wretched Andrew, who didn't even know which end to take hold of. "Now we shall have the full accompaniment," says she.

'Andrew's face looked as if it were made of rotten apple as he stood in the circle of players in front of his book; for if there was one person in the parish that everybody was afraid of, 'twas this hook-nosed old lady. However, by keeping a little behind the next man he managed to make pretence of beginning, sawing away with his bow without letting it touch the strings, so that it looked as if he were driving into the tune with heart and soul. 'Tis a question if he wouldn't have got through all right if one of the squire's visitors (no other than the archdeacon) hadn't noticed that he held the fiddle upside down, the nut under his chin, and the tail-piece in his hand; and they began to crowd round him, thinking 'twas some new way of performing.

'This revealed everything; the squire's mother had Andrew turned out of the house as a vile impostor, and there was great interruption to the harmony of the proceedings, the squire declaring he should have notice to leave his cottage that day fortnight. However, when we got to the servants' hall there sat Andrew, who had been let in at the back door by the orders of the squire's wife, after being turned out at the front by the orders of the squire, and nothing more was heard about his leaving his cottage: But Andrew never performed in public as a musician after that night; and now he's dead and gone, poor man, as we all shall be!'

'I had quite forgotten the old choir, with their fiddles and bass-viols, 'said the home-comer, musingly. Are they still going on the same as of old?'

'Bless the man!' said Christopher Twink, the master-thatcher; 'why they've been done away with these twenty year. A young teetotaler plays the organ in church now, and plays it very well; though 'tis not quite such good music as in old times, because the organ is one of them that go with a winch, and the young teetotaler says he can't always throw the proper feeling into the tune without well-nigh working his arms off.'

'Why did they make the change, then?'

'Well, partly because of fashion, partly because the old musicians got into a sort of scrape. A terrible scrape 'twas too – wasn't it, John? I shall never forget it – never! They lost their character as officers of the church as complete as if they'd never had any character at all.'

'That was very bad for them.'

'Yes.' The master-thatcher attentively regarded past times as if they lay about a mile off, and went on.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Musicality of Old Andrey's Experience

Thomas Hardy's short story, "Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician," is a stunningly crafted piece of prose that explores the art of music through the eyes of a seasoned musician. The story delves deep into the psyche of the titular character, Old Andrey, as he reminisces about his illustrious career as a violinist. Through Hardy's vivid descriptions and masterful use of language, we are transported into the world of music and given a glimpse into the soul of a true artist.

At its core, "Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician" is a story about the power of music to transcend time and space. As Old Andrey recounts his many travels as a performer, we see how music has the ability to connect people from different cultures and backgrounds. The story is a celebration of the universal language of music and the emotions it can evoke in people from all walks of life.

One of the most striking aspects of Hardy's writing in this story is his use of imagery. From the opening paragraphs, we are immediately transported into the world of music through the vivid descriptions of Old Andrey's violin:

"The fiddle was a treasured Stradivarius, nearly two centuries old, and Andrey had played on it for half a century. He had worn it into the shape of his body, the wood rubbed smooth and glossy where his fingers had touched it."

Here, Hardy uses sensory details to bring the violin to life, painting a picture of a well-worn instrument that has been loved and cherished by its owner. We can almost feel the warmth of the wood and the smoothness of the polished surface under our fingertips. This attention to detail is present throughout the story, and it is what makes Hardy's writing so immersive and engaging.

Another notable aspect of the story is the way in which music is used to convey emotion. Old Andrey's playing is described in vivid detail, with Hardy using language that is both poetic and evocative:

"Andrey played as if his heart were breaking, his fingers moving over the strings with a deftness born of long practice. The music was at once joyful and melancholy, a bittersweet lament for all that had been lost and all that could never be regained."

Through this description, we can almost hear the music ourselves, and we can feel the emotions that it evokes. This is the power of music, and Hardy captures it beautifully in his writing.

One particularly interesting aspect of the story is the way in which Old Andrey's experiences as a musician are intertwined with his personal life. We learn that he has lost a wife and a son, and that his music has helped him to cope with his grief:

"Music had been his solace in those dark days, the only thing that could ease the pain in his heart."

Here, we see how music can serve as a form of therapy, helping individuals to process their emotions and find meaning in their lives. Old Andrey's story is a testament to the power of music to heal and inspire, and it is a message that is as relevant today as it was when Hardy wrote the story over a century ago.

Overall, "Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician" is a masterful piece of writing that explores the many facets of music and the human experience. Through his vivid descriptions and poetic language, Hardy captures the essence of what it means to be a musician and to appreciate the beauty of art. The story is a testament to the enduring power of music to connect people from all walks of life, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of embracing the things that bring us joy and comfort in life.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Thomas Hardy's classic Prose Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician is a masterpiece that captures the essence of music and its impact on the human soul. The story is set in a small village in rural England, where the protagonist, Old Andrey, is a renowned musician who has spent his entire life playing the violin. The story is a reflection of the author's own love for music and his deep understanding of its power to move and inspire people.

The story begins with Old Andrey playing his violin in a small village inn. The patrons of the inn are mesmerized by his music, and they listen to him with rapt attention. The author describes the scene in vivid detail, capturing the emotions of the listeners and the beauty of the music. The music is described as "sweet and sad," and it has a profound effect on the listeners.

As the story progresses, we learn more about Old Andrey's life and his love for music. He tells the patrons of the inn about his experiences as a musician, and we learn that he has played in many different places and for many different people. He has played for kings and queens, and he has played in grand concert halls. However, he tells the patrons of the inn that his favorite place to play is in small villages like theirs, where he can connect with the people and share his love for music.

The story takes a poignant turn when Old Andrey tells the patrons of the inn about his wife, who was also a musician. He describes how they used to play together and how they shared a deep love for music. However, his wife died many years ago, and he has been playing alone ever since. The story is a testament to the power of music to heal and to bring people together.

One of the most striking aspects of the story is the way in which the author describes the music itself. The music is described as having a "soul," and it is said to be able to "speak to the heart." The author captures the essence of music and its ability to move people in a way that is both beautiful and profound.

Another important theme in the story is the idea of tradition and the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. Old Andrey is a master musician who has spent his entire life playing the violin. He has learned from the great musicians who came before him, and he has passed on his knowledge to younger musicians. The story is a reminder of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and passing it down to future generations.

In conclusion, Thomas Hardy's Prose Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician is a beautiful and moving story that captures the essence of music and its impact on the human soul. The story is a testament to the power of music to heal, to inspire, and to bring people together. It is a reminder of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and passing it down to future generations. The story is a masterpiece that will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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