I am trying to locate a short story which I read some 35-40 years ago in a high-school Lit class. I do not remember author or title, only the gist of the story which went something like this…
An elderly concert pianist, referred to as “the maestro” is nearing the end of his life and career; IIRC he was suffering some career-ending affliction, possibly arthritis in his hands. The maestro lives alone with only an advanced robot housekeeper/valet’ and is distressed that he has no offspring, no protoge to carry on his work.
In the middle of the night, the maestro awakens to the sound of the grand piano in his music room…a difficult concerto being played so perfectly, so beautifully that he knows he could never equal the performance on his best day. Venturing into the room to see whence this beautiful music comes, he is astounded to find his servant robot is the musician - and that because of its advanced design it is able to perform the task far more perfectly than any human could do.
The maestro realizes that here is the protoge he has wished for. He will present this remarkable robot and his perfect music tob the world, and music will never be the same. The robot, however, tells him that this cannot happen…that while its performance is technically perfect it is merely a mechanical reproduction with no soul, no humanity. The robot is programmed to self-destruct rather than do anything that would harm mankind. To promote its music would rob all art of the human element, the very soul of art and would ultimately doom mankind. Therefore, it must never be allowed to happen.
I do not recall whether the robot actuallyb self-destructs or merely wipes that part of its memory circuits, but at the end the maestro is left desolated and weeping that for one instant the perfect song was within his grasp, but may never be heard again. The moral, of course, is that true art cannot exist without the humanity of the artist.
That’s the story as I remember it. I remember thinking it one of the best short stories I’d read up to that time, and would like to revisit it…see if it’s as good as I remember. Does this description ring a bell with any Dopers, and can anyone help me find a copy?