The Schmooze

Henry Kissinger, Mozart and Second Drafts

In a memoir of his late parents Mr. and Mrs. William F. Buckley, “Losing Mum and Pup,” newly out in paperback from Twelve Publishers, Christopher Buckley quotes from the funeral oration given by Henry Kissinger at his father’s 2008 service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In it, Kissinger states that the elder Buckley “wrote as Mozart composed, by inspiration; he never needed a second draft.”

The sheer notion of juxtaposing W. F. Buckley and Mozart is an unintentional example of the “laugh-out-loud humor” promised by one back cover blurb for “Losing Mum and Pup.” But Kissinger, like Buckley fils, takes his oration entirely seriously, even posting it on his personal website. The notion of composing “by inspiration; he never needed a second draft” may apply to Buckley, a lifelong deadline journalist and author of trashy spy novels, but has nothing whatsoever to do with Mozart.

As the eminent Cornell University musicologist Neal Zaslaw points out in “Mozart as a Working Stiff,” an essay reprinted in “On Mozart” (Cambridge University Press), “we know that Mozart sketched,” laboring over different drafts of some compositions over a period of years. Some Mozart manuscripts “show second thoughts and hesitation,” Zaslaw emphasizes, citing Mozart’s 24th Piano Concerto in C Minor, K. 491.

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Henry Kissinger, Mozart and Second Drafts

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