Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mozart & Lewis Carroll

Two famous birthdays today.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this day in 1756. When he was three he was playing the harpsichord. At five he was composing. At six he played for the emperor, sat in the empress's lap and met seven year-old Marie Antoinette. When he was eight he played for George III of England. Brilliant, precocious, and a bit odd, but so would you be if you spent your childhood as a performing curiosity. (But the music is sublime.)

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on the 27th of January in 1832. He was good at math, and enjoyed devising riddles and stories that turned logic on its head. When he was seventeen he developed a stammer, but he was never as shy or retiring as his subsequent reputation has painted him. He enjoyed the company of children because they laughed at the same things. There's been considerable speculation about these relationships, partly because he never married, but fellows of Oxford colleges in those days could not marry. When he was thirty he took the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church for a row on the Thames, and told them a story about one of them falling down a rabbit hole. Three years later he published it under the name Lewis Carroll.

Lewis Carroll appears eight times in A Book of Ages, Alice Liddell three times, and Mozart six times. (A Book of Ages makes a fun birthday gift.)

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