Let's start the walk at the age of twenty-eight and continue young, inspired and brilliant; in this manner, even after the first steps, we can already glimpse how the paths of our ambitions will conform to the infinite possibilities inherent in this city&emdash;something as yet vaguely but convincingly felt.
Let us also remember that this is the year 1888.
Let us leave our things at the station left luggage for the time being; this will enable Izsó Freund, the chief accountant of the Opera, to run around behind the wings, telling one and all in whispered tones of confidence that the new manager has arrived with nothing but a pair of chipped cufflinks, a withered laurel wreath, and a conductor's baton.
His name is Gustav Mahler, and he has come to Budapest on this autumn day to stay for ten years.
Let us dodge the speeding omnibuses and not stop to buy pretty ribbons from the Bosnians&emdash;the name people have given the tall, straightbacked street vendors around here&emdash;only stopping to admire in passing the iron staunchions of the Western railroad station, its arches and curves, for with its modern monumentality, this beautiful building, designed by the Eiffel firm, may recur as a source of musical inspiration. We must also be careful not to step into horse droppings as we proceed dreamily along the meandering Grand Boulevard. We also can't help noticing the laborers digging the foundations for a new building on every other plot. Indeed, sooner than we think, we will be living in one of the new apartment "palaces", as they are called around here.
Let us step out lively as we begin our walk "in Mahler's own style", limping ever so slightly in unconscious homage to a mother who herself has a limp.
Ta-tah, ta-tah, ta-ta-tah.
The principal theme of the first movement of the First Symphony is on our lips. It will be performed first here in Budapest.