Franz Sylwester
Fictional Character
1632 series
POD: May, 1631
Appearance(s): Grantville Gazette III
"Command Performance", in Ring of Fire II
1635: Music and Murder
1636: The Devil's Opera
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: Germany
Occupation: Musician
Spouse: Marla Linder
Created by: David Carrico

Franz Sylwester was a crippled down-and-out down-timer musician who was victimized by a rival for his prestigious post as first violinist of the Cathedral of Mainz. His left (fingering) hand was deliberately and maliciously mutilated by his rival, leaving Sylwester permanently unable to play the violin again. Sylwester was reduced to eking out an existence writing correspondence for the illiterate.

He gradually made his way to Grantville, where he was exposed to "modern" musical knowledge from "Master Herr Professor Wendell" (the high school music teacher), and a local girl, Marla Linder, a singer-musician that befriended him. From both he learned about the breadth and depth of modern musical instruments and systematized musical theory. He grew emotionally attached to Marla, all the while fighting off feelings of unworthiness engendered from his disability.

As Sylwester continued his studies, he once again took up the violin, using his good hand; finally giving a triumphant debut concert organized by Mary Simpson in December 1633. Upon completing his performance, Sylwester publicly asked for Marla's hand in marriage. The two were married in January 1634.

He later became the first conductor of the Magdeburg Symphony Orchestra, thereby becoming the first modern conductor of the first modern orchestra.[1]


  1. According to the "Coda" for "Elegy" (Grantville Gazette XXII), written as excerpts from a 1979 book on the effects Grantville's arrival had on the music of Europe, he was remembered into the NTL's 20th century.