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At the risk of waking the sleeping giant (Rodders) I thought I'd share with you my morning. It began with a headache (literally) which has all the portents of being here to stay! Then, exams -- not the taking of them of them but the composition of them: what makes for a good examination in these days of democratization of knowledge? Is the very concept outmoded? Hadn't time to ponder that too deeply and went ahead and gave a "take-home" wondering in the process had I capitulated to mediocrity? Then, a stream of students ... wanting reassurance about "the exam". I gushed with reassurance! And then, Mozart.

It came from BBC Radio 3. They were playing his "Gran Partita" (Serenade No. 10 in Bflat, K.361), made famous in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. You recall the moment? Salieri hears it played for the first time, the oboe entering "as if from another world", the clarinet giving it a stronger line. It was, the aged and demented Salieri recalls, as if "I was hearing the voice of God." Indeed! It is a breathtaking moment. And I schmoozed with Karl Barth and was reminded of how he began each day with some Mozart, who was for him an affirmation "of a world which in sunlight and storm, by day and by night, is a good and ordered world."

And my mind wondered to a conversation with Phil Ryken last week when he told me he had heard Christoph Eschenbach, conductor and (on this occasion, soloist) play Mozart's Piano Concerto (was it number 23?) that week. I was green with envy! Repentance forthcoming.

It is, do you see, the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Jon Pott, in the current issue of Books and Culture, has a fine essay on Mozart ("The Triumph of Genius"). If you're wondering about a Christmas present this year, then give some Mozart! But don't bother going to Tower Records in downtown, Philadelphia (a source I loved to visit). It's closing down! A sign of the times to be sure.
Posted December 5, 2006 @ 12:15 PM by Derek Thomas

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