On September 4, 1915, a New York Times headline broke the story: Godowsky Missing. And so began one of the strangest disappearances in music history.

The celebrated Polish pianist Leopold Godowsky had been working at a fever pitch to complete a set of thirty piano adaptations for the Arts Publication Society Progressive Series of Piano Lessons. A series of interruptions at home had made the work slow going. On September 1 Godowsky had left home in Avon, New Jersey, telling his wife that he was taking the train into New York to deposit $1000 in the bank. Godowsky was wearing an expensive suit, a very expensive watch with a diamond monogram on the back, a diamond fob, and valuable stickpin.

When Godowsky failed to return that night, his wife Frieda began telephoning friends, but failed to find him. The search expanded to hospitals without results.

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The next day it was determined that Godowsky had never been to the bank. But he had been to a music store on East Forty-Third Street and he had visited his hairdresser, having left on time to catch the train back to New Jersey.

Frieda Godowsky went to the police, convinced now that her husband was either suffering from amnesia or had been the victim of foul play. Detectives scoured the city and watched ships sailing for Europe.

Friends of the family brought in a clairvoyant, who proclaimed that Godowsky was suffering from sleepwalking or amnesia and would soon be found wandering the city with his mind blank.

Further investigation revealed that Godowsky had left his hairdresser with the words, “I’ve just about enough time to catch my train,” and had begun walking in the direction of Pennsylvania Station.

Then events took a strange and sinister turn. Next–the rest of the story of the missing pianist.

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