Magic Flutist

Dec 3, 2019

Folklore from Frederick County, Maryland

This story/legend comes from Spirits of Frederick by Alyce T. Weinberg.

This story is about Larry and his magic flute and is retold every Christmas locally in the foothills of the blue mountains (Thurmont/Emmitsburg), although I had never heard the story til I read the book.

Larry (Lawrence) was born in the mountains, his father was from Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany. The father, Dr. Henry Casper Dielman, was a noted musician and composer in his native land and was appointed Professor of Music at Mount Saint Mary’s College. There he wrote the special music for the elaborate inaugural ball of President Martin van Buren in 1837. Larry grew up with music in his heart, he could play several musical instruments but the flute was his father’s favorite.

With Glory Lit the Midnight Air was Larry’s best loved melody. It was a Christmas hymn written by his father and has become part of the repertoire at Mount St. Mary’s.

Larry’s father died in 1882 and was buried in saint Anthony’s cemetery in Emmitsburg. As the years went by, Larry grew old and gaunt. But every Christmas, for forty years, he climbed the steep hill to his fathers grave site to play the flute. Many of the townsfolk followed him to the graveyard. the music floated over the glistening, snow-covered mountains as if it were coming from another world.

One Christmas morning the flute was silent. The people went looking for Larry and found him sitting on his fathers grave, too tired and weak to play. They tenderly put him on a child’s sled and pulled him down the hill to his cottage where he died of pneumonia at the age of 76.

That was in 1923… None of the people of the area have said they have seen Larry’s ghost but many have said that they still hear his flute in the crisp, cold air of the mountains near Emmitsburg at Christmastime.

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