On Music: Mozart's Serenade for Winds

David K. Israel

So we've explored the brass and string sections of the orchestra, leaving the winds and percussion. While there are many superb symphonic pieces that feature winds, of course, I thought a better introduction to the wind section would be via one of my all-time favorite Mozart pieces, his Serenade for Winds. We're going to listen to an excerpt from the 3rd movement, which he wrote for oboes, clarinets, French horns, bassoons, double bass, and something called a basset horn, which was the precursor to the modern-day clarinet.

Listen to an excerpt from Mozart's Serenade for Winds
Rather than give you my own little summary of this section, I thought I'd quote Peter Shaffer's brilliant dialogue in the film version of Amadeus. This line, which I've never forgotten since seeing the film for the first time on the big screen when it premiered in 1985, is voice-over spoken by Salieri, jealous as he was of Mozart's gift:

"On the page, just a pulse, like a rusty squeeze box, and then suddenly, high above it, an oboe—a single note hanging there, unwavering, until a clarinet took it over, sweetening into a phrase of such delight, filled with such unfulfillable longing, it seemed I was hearing the voice of God."

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