Ivan knew he could be boiled down no further; playing background music over dinner. He played Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies, over and over for the ungrateful guests at the Eternity Hotel, a very respectable hotel in all its five star splendour. Ivan had no real choice but to play. Quite simply, he needed the money to eat, pay his rent, and to buy the odd indulgence; otherwise he’d be somewhere well away from here, where all the keys are black. He entertained the thought of giving free piano lessons to poor but talented students as a debt he owed for his art, the art which had once given him his opportunity, instead he pessimistically crushed this thought in order to spare someone else the trauma of his experience.
Each night, as he played the same set pieces to the occasional clap he remembered the thrill of the symphony orchestra and how he was the centre of attention playing his favourite piano concerto. The uplifting personal exhilaration when bowing to thunderous applause on completion of Rachmaninov’s famous piano concerto number two, lingered among his everyday reminiscences. He never questioned touring Europe and America being totally devoted to his art and how he had sacrificed family and friends in the pursuit of perfection. One series of events though, clearly stood above everything else at the forefront of his mind; that one horrid week when he had been bed stricken with influenza; how Beatrice, the French viola player, had convinced him to rest and that everything would be back to normal when he was well again.