I do not recall the author but it was someone well known. It was about a composer who ends up in a dystopia. It involves finishing a concerto or symphony.

I would like to use the short story in a new class that I am teaching. The anthology called Moments was popular in the late 1970s and 1980s.

  • Was the composer male or female? Human? Was the story geared toward young people? Did you get a sense of the time- was this a Baroque composer or something later? Any other details you can remember would help a lot! Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 0:04
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    I remember the plot of a story that sounds related, but I can't remember the author or title. In the story a composer is brought back from the past to compose a new symphony. It turns out the composer is just a form of mental conditioning imposed on someone with no musical talent. The moral of the story is that as the composer's consciousness is fading he realises that the joke is on the future society because they don't realise that the new symphony contains nothing original, just a rehash of the composer's old works. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 9:11
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    This also sounds a bit (just a bit) like Orson Scott Card's Unaccompanied Sonata, which was covered in this question. Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 13:53
  • There is no anthology titled Moments in the ISFDB. Perhaps it was not a strictly science fiction anthology? Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 0:41
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/167097/…
    – Otis
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


James Blish's "A Work of Art". maybe.

In the year 2161, a new medical specialty has been developed, known as "Mind Sculpting." Human personalities from history are re-created and placed into voluntarily donated physical bodies. Two mind sculptors, Drs. Kris and Seirds, re-create the mind of Richard Strauss and place it in a body. After animation, the "new" Dr Strauss is encouraged to re-commence his life as a composer of music, which he does.


The applause, when it comes, is not for him, but for the mind sculptors, and Strauss realises that it was all an experiment. Before the sculptors pronounce the formulation that will destroy the re-created mind and restore the mind of the donor – a man completely devoid of musical ability – he feels the satisfaction that the sculptors will never know that the music lacked any spark of genius: "the 'Strauss' [they] had created was as empty of genius as a hollow gourd." His final regret is that he will not now be able to set to music Personae, a poem by Ezra Pound appropriate to the occasion that he had just discovered.

ISFDB entry

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    Yes!! Well, I don't know if that's the OP's story but it is the one I was thinking of. Well done! I've been lying awake racking my brain trying to remember the story title :-) Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 6:27

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