This famous, ill-tempered, ambitious musician is touring Europe with his valet Brando, whom he treats like dirt. Turns out that Brando has written the beautiful compositions, and DeVere takes all the credit for them. Another musician calls DeVere a "cold-blooded technician" behind his back. When Brando begs for credit for the pieces, DeVere gives him the smackdown.
Later, a mysterious stranger (always Satan) tells him how he can find the legendary missing "Imperator" Stradivarius violin at the next train stop in the fictional Italian town of Rovisaro, near Donato.
Once he gets his hands on the instrument, he hears himself playing beautifully, but his audiences hear horrible maddening sounds that make them all flee. He descends into poverty, fires Brando, and then discovers he's cursed to play with the orchestra of the dead.