The Girl and I have been talking about music; last night it was Mozart, and I introduced her to The Magic Flute.
“Her voice really does sound like a flute!” The Girl said, genuinely fascinated, “how is she doing that?”
You have to train for years, I said, before you can make your voice sing opera.
“Do you think I could do it someday?” she asked. You could, I said – how does that fit in with your agenda for becoming the first-ever princess farmer astrophysicist?
“I’ll work it out,” she said. I have faith in you, I said.
When reading about Mozart, though, she saw a picture that made her curious; the French cutting off the head of their Queen, Marie Antoinette.
“Why would they do that?” she said. Because they had been poor and starving, I said, while the king and lords taxed them. Remember the evil king in Robin Hood? He and his men rose up and fought them, and the French did the same thing – only in real life it’s often much nastier than it was with Errol Flynn.
“But it’s good that the poor people took control,” The Girl said. That part was good, I said. Unfortunately, violence puts the wrong kind of people in power – people who don’t feel bad about using violence. Then they often start using violence on each other, or anyone who disagreed with them.
“What happened to the country?” she asked. France became a great country, I said, but it was a rough road to get there.
The next question, of course, was why a picture like this was in a book about Mozart. Because, I told her, this was happening at the same time Mozart was writing the music you’re listening to. All kinds of terrible things were happening at the time, but you’d never know from listening to his music.
“Why wouldn’t he write about the Queen’s head getting cut off? That would make a good story,” she said.
Maybe, I said, but he was working for other kings who probably didn’t want to be reminded. Plus, I suspect that when people were seeing so many terrible things happening, he wanted to give people something else – something beautiful.
“I think it worked,” she said.