He lined them up in the streets that day. They stood in a row, staring up at the balcony where he waited, his stance wide and his hands clasped behind his back. They just stood in silence: All the minstrels, all the musicians the singers, the songwriters, the fiddlers and drummers the man who whistled down the sidewalk on his way to work; the woman who played the organ at church One by one they stepped forward for a single choice. “Silence, or death?” the man would ask, his voice harsh with hatred as he eyes the fiddles and drums and flutes and harmonicas of the people below. Mr. Marks, the composer, he told them no.
Music was in his blood, he said. It was his reason for living, the food for his soul. He stood against the man on the balcony, defiant. It only took one shot to bring him down, sheet music fluttering around him like feathers, landing haphazard on the ground. They left the pages there in the street, streaked with red while the solders dragged his body away. The others remained in silence. One by one they chose, each handing over their instruments, their lyrics, their record players. Dad let go of my hand to step forward and wordlessly turn over his music books, and after they took the piano was the only time I saw him cry. The smoke of the bonfire scorched the sky to a dusty gray, a dark sky for a dark day. Later, they´d call it the day the music died, and kids would raise a hand in class and ask what your music would was. I suppose I was lucky because I could still remember the music. My younger brother did´t.
He was only 2 when the dictator took power, and he´d never seen the barber shop quartet perform on the Fourth of July or heard our dad sing Christmas carols around the piano. Sometimes, when our parents weren´t home, we would sit in the bathroom with the shower running, and I´d hum what I could remember. He would stay at me with his wide, brown eyes and rock his head back and forth and back and forth. I didn´t know yet how dangerous it was, passing on the music, and I had no idea an underground movement had formed to undo the dictators power. All I knew was my brother loved it, and he always wanted more than I could give. With each year, the melodies faded and combined together into one glorious montage of music, the last melodies knitted together the best we could, set to the rhythmic hammer of the water against the tile.