Mary didn’t know much about music, though she liked to sing. She’d heard people play the piano in the theatre, and in a saloon of course, but she’d never heard anything like this. He played a Beethoven sonata, and she listened entranced, by the beauty of the music and by its power. And she watched Hans with fascination, too. His skill was remarkable, and his hands beautiful, but even more intriguing was the transformation that came over his face. She saw concentration, absolute concentration, intelligence - and a sort of remove. For when he played, she realised, he entered another world. It wasn’t a world she knew anything about, but she could see that Hans had just gone there, right in front of her, and she was enchanted. She hadn’t realised how fine he was.
And suddenly a thought came into her mind. All her childhood, she’d heard the priests speak of angels, and she’d always thought of them like the ones she’d seen in paintings, with placid faces and unlikely wings. But seeing his face now, she thought, no - this must be what an angel is like, full of beauty, and spirit, intelligence and power.
“You should play for a living,” she said to him, when he had finished and returned to earth.
“Oh no,” he said, with a touch of sadness, “You should hear the real pianists.” He smiled kindly. “I have to get back to work now, Mary”.
E. Rutherfurd - “New York