On this day in 1832, the great writer Lewis Carroll was born. This two Alice novels are still wonderfully fun to read. And you should go and do that! What bothers me is that most people think of him as some kind of pedophile. Even if he had actually been one, that wouldn’t change the work. But I accept the “Carroll Myth” theory that basically says it is all nonsense. Regardless, we have the books.
Other birthdays: scholar Richard Bentley (1662); landscape painter Arkhip Kuindzhi (1841); portrait painter John Collier (1850); labor leader Samuel Gompers (1850); composer Jerome Kern (1885); philosopher Arne Naess (1912); bluesman Elmore James (1918); actor James Cromwell (74); singer-songwriter Kate Wolf (1942); Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (70); one of the most dangerous men in the nation, John Roberts (59); comic book legend Frank Miller (57); actor Bridget Fonda (50); actor Alan Cumming (49); comedian Patton Oswalt (45); and flutist Emmanuel Pahud (44), who in celebration of the day will perform a little Mozart for us:
The day, however, belongs to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born on this day in 1756. I know that most classical music fans think that I’m a neanderthal, but he is my favorite composer. I’m very fond of other composers, of course. I quite like much of Schubert, Debussy, most Les Six, and a great deal of the later twentieth century. And, yes, I like Beethoven, but I often find him exhausting. To me, Mozart is the sweet spot between the intellectual excesses of the Baroque period and the emotional excesses of the Romantic period.
The thing, though, is that I continue to find Mozart transcendent. Like the D major flute concerto above. It was originally the Oboe Concerto in C major, but Mozart got a job to write a couple of flute concertos, so he just reworked it. It is some of his weakest adult work. Yet every time I hear it, it delights me. That’s Mozart the hack. I still think he was at his best with opera, probably because of his love of the theater.
But I’m afraid that I talk about his operas too much. So here is his G Minor Symphony. It encapsulates half of Beethoven’s career:
Happy birthday Mozart!