Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eine Kleine Jabberwocky

I like to think they would have enjoyed each other's company. Isn't there a common bond between mathematics and music? And I think they were both playful spirits. You've got The Magic Flute on the one hand and Tweedledum/Tweedledee on the other. Or the Queen of the Night and the Queen of Hearts. And it turns out they sort of crossed paths over "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," of all things. Mozart wrote twelve variations on its melody, from a French ditty, "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman." And Lewis Carroll wrote:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.

They certainly meet—in fact, hang out together forever—on their mutual birthday, which is today. I too am a member of the League of 27 (in October), as is my son (in April), and my brother-in-law (in December). So I look at these two delightful chaps (Mozart and Carroll, that is) as fraternity members or distant cousins.

Celebrating their day is simply a matter of turning on the nearest classical radio station for the probable tribute, or else finding that "Elvira Madigan" Piano Concerto (No. 21) you haven't played in several decades, or just find Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on YouTube ( That'll take care of Wolfgang.

For Lewis, go to your bookshelf or go online and dig up "Jabberwocky" or "You Are Old, Father William," or, if you're really ambitious, "The Hunting of the Snark." (Here's a particularly fine version with illustrations by Henry Holiday:

Or it may be asking too much to cram both of these blithe spirits into one day's celebration. You could do worse than keep their company tomorrow, or meander with them into March. Fine winter companions, separately or together.


  1. Hal, you've got to have one of the best blogs in existence. I love your writing and feel very lucky that you are sharing it with the world on a regular basis. You are awesome!

  2. (Blush) Thanks, Anne. Share I will with such encouragement!