Raphael Silberstein

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Secondary character and classical pianist from the 1897 German novel Der kraft-Mayr. Ein humoristischer musikanten-roman (The forceful[?] Mayr. A humoristic musician novel) by Ernst von Wolzogen (1855-1934).

The novel is set in Berlin in 1879. Silberstein is a huge fan of self-important local composer Peter Gais for whom he plays. Silberstein also writes music criticism under the pseudonym "Germanicus."

Behind him sat Raphael Silberstein, touching from motives of pure reverence only the uttermost corner of his tipped-up chair and looking over the shoulder of the mighty genius at the manuscript to turn the leaves for him. He was taller than Peter Gais by fully two heads, very lank and slender; he had a pitch-black shock of hair kept closely cropped and an unsightly black beard under the large, unmistakable nose of his race. Had it not been for this altogether too obtrusive nose, one might almost have called Raphael Silberstein a handsome young man for he had the smooth round forehead of a madonna, heavy black eyebrows, the large deepset eyes of an enthusiast, and a pale but clear complexion. In the expression of his face and in the awkward attitudes of his abnormally long limbs there was a certain something that was childlike and touching which, however, by reason of the nose was constantly in danger of becoming ridiculous.

Well, and our" friend Silberstein do you know him at all intimately ?"

"No, I only know that he plays the piano very well but very coldly."

"Yes, well, you see, that is another remarkable character. The young man is incredibly industrious. His whole life long he has worked and struggled, against his parents, against his talents, against his race, his life has been one ceaseless exhausting battle in spite of the fact that as a well-to-do independent man he might have had things so comfortable. He is an idealist and, if I read him aright, a candidate for suicide. Because he had great technical gifts for piano playing, he thought he was a born musician but his parents would not hear of it. So he took up Egyptology and became a scholar. He took his doctor degree at twenty-two and now he wants to qualify here as instructor. Meanwhile, however, both his parents have died and he has yielded once more to his passion for music; he is quite aware that he is not a creative artist but now he hopes to get into the history of music in the tow of a genius. Gais can't endure him, makes fun of him constantly, but he accepts his pecuniary assistance just the same. The clouds of incense with which the poor young fellow envelopes him he sniffs up graciously. The worst of it is that the good Raphael understands music a good deal too well not to find out some day that he has over-estimated his idol and the awakening will be a terrible thing for him. I'm afraid he'll hang himself, if he doesn't go into a monastery. It was Gais's music, you know, that converted him to Christianity."

Real composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) makes an appearance in the novel.

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