Thinking about Pope Benedict – a lenten Friday papal musical interlude

One of the last complete works that Wolfgang Mozart wrote was his Clarinet Concerto in A (K. 622).

There is a lovely symmetry in this being one of Pope Benedict’s favorite works of his favorite composer.

Since I was a bit down this morning, and since some of you may be too, I thought this would be an uplifting treat.  If you have never heard this concerto before, you really need to take 28:31 and listen.  Everyone ought to know this work.  How does one get through life not knowing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jeannie_C says:

    One of my favourite pieces, thanks for sharing it with everybody. I have felt sad thinking about our Holy Father since I heard his announcement, I need to have more faith God will fill the void with someone who will lead courageously.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you, Father!

    I came across this last night, and I think it succinctly puts into words what many of the faithful are feeling right now:

  3. Jenny says:

    I played Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto for my senior recital. That, some other stuff I can’t recall, and a trio of Joplin pieces set for clarinet.

  4. gloriainexcelsis says:

    The Holy Father and I share favorites – Mozart and Beethoven. This, in spite of everything, lifted my spirits this morning, especially the last movement. Pure joy.

  5. everett says:

    I played this piece in high school as well, and besides Mozart being my favorite composer, this will likely always be my favorite piece of classical music.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    I wrote a piece that used the second movement of the Concerto as part of my doctoral work in performance. I also wrote an analysis of the work in a master’s seminar. The first and third movements are very much in the Classical vein, but the second movement was probably cause when a freak rift between Heaven and Earth opened up and Mozart heard the sound of angels. Either that, or my personal speculation: somebody left the radio playing when the first time machine visited Germany in 1891.

    It is, properly, played on the Basset Clarinet with a reduced orchestra. Mozart did not have access to clarinets for most of his adult life, coming to them only relatively late (he had much more access to flutes). Anton Stadler gave the first performance on a one key non-Boehm clarinet, which had an extension which gave it a range below modern clarinets. Thus, two measures (repeated in the coda) have the ranges transposed up an octave in the modern arrangements for A or Bb clarinet.

    The most famous standard recording (recently re-issued) is by Robert Marcellus and the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell.

    The Chicken

  7. Stumbler but trying says:

    A wonderful and uplifting piece, thanks Fr. Z for sharing it with the rest of us. I had to smile lots since I also recall that our beloved Holy Father plays the piano and it was rumored that were he not Pope, he had the ability to become a pianist of very high caliber…a wonderful thought. ^^

  8. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Thank you Father. It was just what I needed on an afternoon like today’s.

  9. NBW says:

    Thank you Father. It is a very beautiful piece.

  10. OrthodoxChick says:


    I don’t know if these are authentic (but they seem to be) short video clips of the Holy Father playing the piano. This first one is in German before he was elected Pope and I have no idea what the German narrator is saying. Hopefully, I’m not posting any negative remarks.

    This one is short too, but from Rome Reports so it should be legit:

  11. TNCath says:

    I am truly sad at the thought of His Holiness, Pope Benedict’s resignation. However, I am grateful to him for all that he has done for our Church. This musical interlude is a perfect meditation for this moment. Thank you, Fr. Z.

  12. I like Mozart’s violin concertos better. More lively.

  13. VexillaRegis says:

    OrthodoxChick: Thanks for the links! The first one is authentic, and as a pianoteacher, I can tell that the Pope must have been a rather good pianist, but that he hasn’t practiced enough in the recent decades. And would someone please send him a piano tuner? Brr!

    As for the second link, that one is obviously a fake, but fairly well made – the Pope moves his hands in the right directions with the melody. However, no blues pianist would use a score like that, and as we could see and hear in te earlier clip:

    The Pope hasn’t got that rythm! ;-)

  14. OrthodoxChick says:


    Glad you liked them. I am 100% ignorant about music, so thank you for your info!

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