In the beginning of the 19th century, Johannes Elias Alder is born in a small village in the Austrian mountains. While growing up he is considered strange by the other villagers and discovers his love of music, especially rebuilding and playing the organ at the village church. After experiencing an "acoustic wonder", his eye color changes and he can hear even the most subtle sounds. Elias falls in platonic love with Elsbeth, the sister of Peter, a neighbor's son, who has longstanding homosexual feelings towards Elias. After Elsbeth, out of frustration from Elias' not returning her love and instead being obsessed with music, chooses to be impregnated and marries someone else who lose love she had spurned for Elias. The village burns and most villagers, including Elsbeth, evacuate to the closest town. Elias remains behind. Having heard of "the prodigy in the alps", a music master seeks out Elias and invites him to an organ challenge in the town where the villagers relocated. Elias ...
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