A Serenade for Vienna’s Music Lovers

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Strolling through Vienna… © Charles Thibo

A year ago I was in Vienna, and being Vienna always makes me happy. I was done with work, i.e. meetings at the Vienna International Center hosting several UN agencies, and I had time for a stroll through the municipal park. I was on my own, I sat on a bench and I enjoyed Mozart’s Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, KV 452. A beautiful piece and a remarkable one for Mozart had some very special ideas on his mind.

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What Happened to the Enlightenment?

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Pamina meets the Queen of the Night © Svetlana Loboff/OnP

I don’t want to live in a world where the political agenda is dictated by ideology, populism, superstition or religious dogmatism. I don’t want to be governed by politicians guided by their emotions, their so-called “instincts” or their beliefs. I consider rationalism as the foundation of democracy and the state of law. Anything else will lead to autocratic forms of government or worse. And I am afraid of an evolution where haters repudiate, abuse of or physically attack what they call “the elites”, social, economical or scientific experts. People do not become suspect or evil because they have a higher education. Much to the contrary. But what happened to rationalism? What happened to the Enlightenment?

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A Piano Fantasy for a Handful of Florins

A Night’s Treasure. © Charles Thibo

Through the night with Mozart: Fantasia in C minor, K. 475 🎶🎹🌙 – such was the tweet I sent in April last year. I was on my own, everyone had gone to bed and I was up late, marveling at this magic piece of music, the special mood it conveyed, alternating between tranquility and anxiety, a passion simmering below a calm surface. I consciously enjoyed every note, every chord and Maria Joao Pires’ splendid phrasing, emotional and yet with sufficient distance to avoid falling into something artificial or hollow.

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A Mozartian Serenity in the Middle of Chaos

Witnessing a creative act. © Charles Thibo

I very often marvel at Man’s creativity, his industriousness and his ability to solve highly complex issues. I am not speaking about music here, mind you! For two or more years I have been crossing a huge construction site at the southern border of Luxembourg city. A new suburban area is being built, complete with office buildings, apartments, a pharmacy, a high school, a bank, a supermarket and Luxembourg’s new football arena. The roads are being rebuilt in parallel, but the traffic jams are less dramatic than I had anticipated. I am impressed by the speed with which buildings are rising into the sky. I am impressed by the constant coordination required to keep construction going and car traffic more or less flowing.

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