This scene described in The Rites of Spring (Modris Eksteins) reads like something from a darkly comic novel.
In October 1914, young Hans Fleischer was near Blamont on the edge of the Vosges Mountains. On a day in rest quarters he went for a stroll and came across a chateau, that of Baron de Turckheim, in a state of almost total devastation. A priceless library, paintings, furniture, and paneling had all been smashed. But in one corner of the ruin Fleischer found a grand piano, a Steinway to boot, untouched by the war’s rage, and under the piano he found some scores. What did he choose? A piano version of Wagner’s Die Walkure. He sat down, played, and sang—energetically, he wrote—the Lied von Liebe und Lenz. And then he left. “I had been at home, made German music, and now once again I could return to the war.”20 But what makes the scene so poignant is that the young man had not left the war. There it was, surrounding him. The piano, the music, the ruins, the war, all blended into one sensation.