Novella set in 1797 in Paris and Venice in the backdrop of Napoleon's war. A young man, Johannes, a violinist who was a child prodigy, becomes lost in the shuffle as he matures and leads a life of despondency and mere existence. When he is drafted into Napoleon's army and injured, he is sent to Venice to shuffle papers and is billeted with an older man, Erasmus, who Johannes later finds out is a violin maker. This book tells each of their stories and also the story of Erasmus' black violin, his masterpiece. A short but interesting story with an ending that I could live with though I suspect many will not like.