I read this story a long time ago and cannot remember either the title or the author. It was written in the 60s or 70s. The setting is sometime in the 21 century.

Here is a summary of the plot.

One of the great classical composers (maybe it was Schubert, I'm not sure) is revived with some future technology. All the guys in the lab are very happy about it, the world cheers the achievement. The composer is also quite excited to be alive. Naturally, he is asked to perform a concert. He asks for ink and music paper. Nobody knows what that is: in those days everybody writes music directly in "frequency spectrum" and similar stuff.

The composer, excited to create music again, tries to come up with something but he doesn't like anything he writes. The music is well written, but lacks something essential, it doesn't sound like his real music. Finally, the composer realizes that the lab guys recreated his mind from reviews by music critics, and his music just sounds like that. He performs the concert. The audience enjoys it, applauds and bravos. Not only to composer, but also to the lab guys.

At the end, if I remember it right, the composer gloats over the primitive taste of the audience. The audience who writes music in frequency spectrum and applauds to lab guys at the music concert did not see the failure in the concert and ate it as it is.

Does someone recognize the story?

PS all the recent talk of advent of AI machines with Machine Learning algorithms reminded me of this story.

  • Those are some great details, take a look at this guide to see if there's anything else you can edit in.
    – Edlothiad
    Aug 13, 2017 at 16:31
  • Related, but probably not what you're looking for: Story Identification: composer brought from the past to the future
    – Ubik
    Aug 13, 2017 at 21:03
  • I have attempted to clarify the wording of your question, but I'm afraid I have no idea what the paragraph beginning "At the end, if I remember right" means. Could you edit the question to make that part clear?
    – Blackwood
    Aug 13, 2017 at 22:28
  • @Blackwood, ok, now it should be clearer.
    – xealits
    Aug 14, 2017 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Although a bit older than what you suggest, this may be James Blish's 1956 short story A Work of Art.

The reincarnated composer is Richard Strauss. The end is somewhat as you state, Strauss is disappointed with his concert.

And suddenly, in the middle of the last act, he understood.

There was nothing new about the music. It was the old Strauss all over again - but weaker, more dilute than ever.

  • 1
    I thought of that story while I was reading the question. I'm pretty sure you've nailed it.
    – Lorendiac
    Aug 13, 2017 at 23:59
  • 1
    I just read this story a few days ago. If this isn't it, it was plagiarized. Aug 14, 2017 at 2:43
  • 1
    I think this is it. The title seems right. I'll have to reread it later :) Thanks!
    – xealits
    Aug 14, 2017 at 11:58

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