Kater Murr (KAH-tehr mewr), a literary tomcat. After being adopted by Master Abraham, he uses his extraordinary intelligence to learn to read and write. His literary masterpiece is his autobiography, written on the back of discarded leaves that happen to contain Kreisler’s biography. His death brings a premature end to his memoirs after two volumes. In his egotistical view of himself, Murr is a genius. He feels no embarrassment at expecting future generations of cats to idolize him, and he holds nothing back about the follies of his adolescence, including outbreaks of lovesickness and a brief fling at membership in a cat fraternity.
Johannes Kreisler (yoh-HAHN-nehs KRIZ-lehr), the Kapellmeister (resident composer) of Prince Irenäus’ unofficial court at Sieghartshof. About thirty years old, he has dark hair and eyes that give him a soulful look. Kreisler is an eccentric, extremely changeable person with contradictory emotions: At any moment, extreme melancholy may give way to extreme sarcasm. His character was formed by a childhood made desolate by the deaths, a few years apart, of his mother and aunt, and desertion by his father. Kept out of school by the musician uncle who reared him, he learned from various tutors, the most capricious of whom was his piano teacher, Abraham Liscov. Kreisler pursues music until his late teens, with brief interruptions for a diplomatic career. He has become Kapellmeister to the grand duke when the demands of the court become especially humiliating, causing him to run off to Master Abraham in Sieghartshof. Kreisler’s love of music is closely intermingled with love of a more romantic sort, for his singing pupil Julia Benzon. He believes that true musicians reach out...
(The entire section is 763 words.)