By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Horror Short Story Review: "The Music of Erich Zann" by H. P. Lovecraft

The narrator tells the reader that he cannot find the Rue d’Auseil, where he once had quarters while (an impoverished) student of metaphysics. He’s consulted maps, both modern and older, for names change. He took none of his acquaintances there while he lived there. But it was only a half hour’s walk from the university and shouldn’t be that difficult to find.

He had rooms on the fifth floor. On his first night there, he heard strange music and asked the landlord, Blandot, about it. Blandot informed him that an old German viol player, a mute, lived there. He played in the evenings in a cheap theatre orchestra. The landlord had given him the top floor, away from everyone else because he could play there and not bother anyone.

The narrator is enchanted by this unearthly music even if it keeps him awake. While he knows little of music, he’s sure this is unlike most. He passes the musician in the hall one day and invites himself up to hear him play.

He finds him nervous, staring over his shoulder at the room’s single window, as if there someone out there. But who could be out there, so many stories above the ground…?

The reader knows there is something off about the whole place from the beginning. It might be a little bit of overkill, though. The viol player is mute, and even worse a foreigner whose French, when he writes, is “execrable.” The landlord is a “paralytic.” The Rue d’Auseil lies across a dark river “odorous with evil stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere.”

The ending is classic Lovecraft, horrifying and sad, which the narrator witnesses but barely understands.


Title: “The Music of Erich Zann” written in 1921, first published in the magazine The National Amateur , March 1922.

Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1892-1937)

Source: ISFDB



Last review: "The Shell of Sense" by Olivia Howard Dunbar

Last Lovecraft review: “ The Outsider


©2015 Denise Longrie

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MegL wrote on November 12, 2015, 9:01 AM

Sounds like there were plenty of clues to it being a horror story then!

msiduri wrote on November 12, 2015, 9:27 AM

Oh, yeah. The biggie, of course, to a Frenchman being a German who can't speak or write acceptable French. emoticon :winking:

CalmGemini wrote on November 14, 2015, 3:28 AM

I have read the story.Good one,with the stamp of Lovecraft on it.One that Lovecraft fans should not miss.

msiduri wrote on November 14, 2015, 8:20 AM

Yes. The ending is quintessential Lovecraft.