chapter
Impromptus of a great city
Siegfried Kracauer’s
ByStrassen in Berlin und Anderswo
Pages 16

He has a child’s face, we are told, and its changing expression confirms our

suspicion that although he is here, seated at the grand piano in a fashionable

Berlin bar, he is utterly lost in his thoughts, his dreams, his memories. Playing

the merest ‘murmur’ 1 of music to accompany the hum of conversation, shifting

seamlessly from one melody to the next, his hands and fingers move effortlessly

over the keyboard as if they have a life of their own, as if wholly independent of

the man’s middle-aged, rather corpulent body. The pianist plays absent-

mindedly. Yes, he is certainly here, but he is also, unmistakably, ‘elsewhere’.2