My Classical Music
(submitted to National Public Radio)
According to the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the intellectual love of Mozart’s music is a liberal education on the meaning of Beauty.
For many of us, Mozart, like Shakespeare, is not of an age but for all time. For times of joy and for times of sorrow. Conjuring only the magic of Die Zauberflote, what could be more glorious than the Queen of the Night’s aria, more sublime than Sarastro’s “Oh Isis”, more delightful than the duet between Papageno and Papagena? Additionally, my cell phone rings out with the happy introductory notes to Zerlina’s dance from Don Giovanni.
However, humankind is also born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. The ominous sound of our landline telephone in the predawn cold of an Iowa winter delivered the terrible news that my wife’s father had just been murdered by Somali guerrillas who crossed the border over into Ethiopia. A rifle shot stopped a heart that had beaten for almost half a century in selfless service for some of the most hidden peoples on the African continent.
After a few moments I walked slowly to the phonograph to hear once more Mozart’s great 40th Symphony in the tragic key of G minor. I hear in this great symphony all the depth of human tragedy clearly and compellingly expressed, but within a harmony so marvelous and mighty that the result is pure joy. I am comforted by the hope that the dreadful events that occur in all our lives may likewise and somehow find a place in such a beautiful harmony.