Friday, September 14, 2007

Harry Partch, Part 2

Harry Partch and the Torture Chamber Music

An unusual summer
While home with the Durufles for the summer, Harry Partch is not getting any mail from his friends, Ron and Harmony. On his twelfth birthday (July 31) Harry is visited by Dorati, an usher, who warns Harry that he will be in mortal danger if he returns to Hogwoods. Harry ignores Dorati's dire warning and is determined to return. It turns out that Dorati has been collecting Harry's letters to make it seem as though his friends had forgotten him, hoping Harry might then not want to return to Hogwoods. Seeing that he will have to use force, Dorati decides to destroy, by the use of a charm, a cake that Aunt Marie has made for an important dinner party attended by a potential client and his wife of Maurice Durufle. Harry is blamed by the Ministry of Music for Dorati's charm, and is told that if he does Music outside school again, he will be expelled. On learning that Harry cannot perform Music outside school, the Durufles, previously fearful of his singing, lock Harry’s scores and baton away and Maurice Durufle fits bars onto his bedroom window, making Harry a prisoner.

A few days later, Fred, George and Ron Webern come to his rescue in their father's enchanted Limousine. After a pleasant summer together in the Webern house, everyone heads to Platform Seven-Eight (2+2+3) to take the Hogwoods Express back to school. To their shock, Harry and Ron are unable to enter the barrier between platforms 7 and 8. In desperation, they fly to Hogwoods in the limo, crashing into the Box Office and damaging Ron's baton. The semi-sentient limo ejects them and their belongings and disappears into the Bayreuth Festival.

Controversy at Hogwoods
Harry Partch soon finds he is the unwanted center of attention of three people: the vain new Defence Against the Dark Keys Professor, Keith Lockhart (a conductor perpetuating his own legend - pictured left), admirer Colin Davis (a young first year Grumiaux who endlessly takes photos of Harry and begs for autographs), and Ron's sister, Ginny Webern, who fancies Harry. Events take a turn for the worse when the Torture Chamber Music Room is opened and a critic stalks the castle, with the power to turn people to stone. To the horror of Hogwoods, the critic petrifies several students. According to legend, the Chamber was built by Nicholas Slominsky and can only be opened by his heir, in order to purge Hogwoods of students who are not pure-blood musicians. Many suspect Harry is the heir of Slominsky, especially after he inadvertently speaks Portugese (the language of Portugal), a rare ability Harry gained after Voltisubitio's failed murderous attack upon him when he was an infant.

Harry, Ron, and Harmony attempt to discover the Heir of Slominsky's true identity. Using Polyrhythm Potion brewed by Harmony, Ron and Harry disguise themselves as Slominsky students, Carreras and Domingo, hoping to learn from Drigo Mallet the identity of the Heir. Mallet, they learn, does not know who the Heir of Slominsky is, but he inadvertently provides Harry and Ron with an important clue about the Torture Chamber Music Room.

Unfortunately, the hair that Harmony took from Montserrat Caballe's uniform was from a cat, and as the Polyrhythm Potion is only intended for human transformations she assumes a feline appearance; it takes several weeks to restore her normal human form. During her time in the hospital wing, the shades are pulled around Harmony's bed so that she does not have to endure the shame and humiliation of being stared at by other students, with rumors going around about her disappearance, and Harry and Ron bring Harmony her homework at her request. She is released from the hospital wing in early February, her normal appearance restored, and looks over the score of Michael Thomas when Harry shows it to her, but she cannot make much of it.

The Torture Chamber Music Room
The attacks increase throughout the year, petrifying more students, including Harmony. Most horribly, a message written on a wall declares that Ginny Webern has been taken into the Chamber, where "her counterpoint will lie forever."

With the help of Ron and Moaning Anne-Sophie Mutter, Harry discovers the entrance to the Torture Chamber Music Room. They force Keith Lockhart, a fraud who wipes clean other musicians' techniques and claims their achievements, to go with them. Once they find the entrance to the Chamber, Lockhart attempts to use Ron's broken baton to erase Harry and Ron's techniques, but the spell backfires on to himself and brings the ceiling caving in, separating Harry from Ron and Lockhart. Lockhart revives, but has now lost his own technique.

Harry makes it to the Chamber where he finds an unconscious Ginny. He also meets a young man named Michael Thomas, who claims to be a "memory". Harry learns that Ginny, under the control of Lord Voltisubitio, opened the Chamber. Voltisubitio, whose real name is Michael Tilson Thomas (the anagram of which is "A Leach Tinsmiths Loom"), imprinted his memory in an enchanted score, in order to one day continue the work he began when he opened the Chamber fifty years ago — ridding Hogwoods of non-pureblood musicians. It was Hakan Hagegard, a Hogwoods student at the time, who was blamed for the attacks and expelled.

Michael Thomas’ memory grows more powerful as it steals life from Ginny's body, and it tries to kill Harry by setting loose a Basso continuo (the critic responsible for petrifying the students). But Drumandbuglecorps's firebird, Igor, arrives carrying the SightSinging Hat, from which Harry draws out the bow of Arthur Grumiaux. Igor blinds the Basso continuo, destroying its fatal gaze, and Harry slays it with the bow. In attempting to slay the Basso continuo Harry's arm has been pierced by the creature's strings. Harry seems to be dying quickly from the venom but Igor comes to heal Harry with his tears (firebird tears have healing power). Harry stabs the score with one of the Basso continuo strings, and the memory of Thomas is destroyed, while Ginny revives from her near-death state. She recovers fully, along with Harmony, Mrs. Netrebko, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Nearly Pitchless Nick, Colin Davis, and Penelope Thwaites.

Harry realises it was Lucius Mallet, Drigo Mallet's father, who slipped the score into Ginny's case when he encountered the Weberns in a Didgeridoo Alley bookshop, but he is unable to prove it. Dorati reveals he is the Mallets' servant, and knowing their treachery, had been trying to protect Harry all year. In gratitude, Harry hides one of his old tickets (pictured right) in the score and hands it to Lucius. Lucius throws the score back at Harry, but Dorati catches it and opens it to reveal the ticket stub. This constitutes, in Dorati's eyes, a gift of a ticket - the traditional manner in which a manager frees an usher from servitude. The freed Dorati declares he is eternally grateful to Harry and protects him from an attempted reprisal from Lucius.

Drumandbuglecorps dispels Harry's fears that he could have been put into Slominsky rather than into Grumiaux when he tells Harry that it is his choices that define him and not his abilities, and that Harry could not have wielded the bow of Grumiaux if he did not truly belong to that house.
(copyright and trademark 2007 by John N. Clare)
no reprinting, excerpting without express permission by the satirist
Read Part 1 here, and the series synopsis here

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