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The genuine oddities of life prove to be bountiful, beautiful and continue to inspire.

As one who’s spent a good part of my life doing business in Scotland, one has learned that the Scots do get around.  Indeed, they always have.

One evening in Aberdeen over a very fine glass of the local product, I was shocked to learn that a local monk some way back in the who-knows-quite-when toddled far, far away off from the Scottish island of Staffa (named from the Old Norse for stave or pillar).

Staffa is just east of the Isle of Mull, and features some of the world’s oddest looking stone structures, especially its basalt caverns.

One of the most widely known caves and structures is Fingal’s Cave.

[View of cave mouth]

[Fingal’s Cave interior]

Does that ring a faint bell?

It should.

Fingals Cave is well-known to the world thanks to one Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture.

Anyway, back to our wandering Scottish monk.

Quite why or how he landed up where he did is perhaps a matter for divine knowledge, but suffice it to say, he wound up founding a settlement called Staffa, or Stäfa as the current-day locals write it, around the lake from is now the beautiful, tidy city of Zurich,

Until today, all I knew for sure about a Stäfa was that it was rife with vines producing the Klevener grape which, in local practice, is used to produce a quite tasty Pinot Noir.

Today, the innovative people of Stäfa, the world headquarters of Phonak Corporation, have much more about which to be very proud indeed.

Deaf man hears Mozart for first time with new hearing aid –  A deaf young filmmaker has heard music for the first time in his life, including Mozart’s Requiem.

California filmmaker Austin Chapman has heard music for the first time in his life, thanks to a pair of state-of-the-art hearing aids that have defeated his profound deafness. Chapman reportedly had tears streaming down his face when he heard Mozart’s Requiem for the first time.

The hearing aids, manufactured by Phonak, have allowed the previously deaf Chapman (who could previously only just make out very low-frequency rumblings) to hear for the first time. Some friends played him the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem while they were driving and Chapman began to cry.

Kyle Sinnott, a friend of Chapman, was there: “It was quite an experience. He was nodding his head and moving his fingers. He cried at one point, and the same goes for everybody in the car.”

When Chapman posted online asking what he should listen to next, he received over 14,000 suggestions. Chapman commented:

“I’m waiting until I have a really good sound system.” He plans to buy every Beatles album first of all, but in the meantime has been listening to Pink Floyd and Devo records.

Chapman’s short films have won several awards since 2010, and he currently runs the website artofthestory.com.


Those of us who know Latin will be amused at this author’s apparently missing the blissful irony of what he wrote:

“…friends played him the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem while they were driving and Chapman began to cry.”

What does Lacrimosa mean in Latin?


Almost fittingly, Mozart’s Mass in D Minor (K. 626) which features the Lacrimosa is itself one of the most tragic, if soaringly, studpendously moving pieces of music ever written.

Depending upon whom one believes, it was in fact a work-in-progress when Mozart died in Vienna on the 5th December 1791.

The general consensus, if that is not too strong a word in Mozartian circles, is that literally on his deathbed, Mozart began writing the Lacrimosa.  He manged to finish either eight or nine bars and then, suddenly, he died.

The thing speaks for itself:

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

Judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce, Deus:

Pie Jesu Domine,

Dona eis requiem. Amen.

English translation

Full of tears shall be that day

On which from ashes shall arise

The guilty man to be judged;

Therefore, O God, have mercy on him.

Gentle Lord Jesus,

grant them eternal rest. Amen.

How proud Mozart would be that his Mass was the very first thing a young man living 221 years later would ever hear.

That, in and of itself, is enough to make one tear up to cry, especially my fellow Mozartians.

In my view, this is the definitive interpretation of the Lacrimosa, as performed on the 200th Anniversary of Mozart’s death at Stephansdom (St Stephan’s Cathedral) in Vienna.

Indeed, how inspiring must it be that this performance occurred literally just around the corner from Mozart’s house at number 5 Domgasse (or, Cathedral Street) in Vienna where he lived from 1784 to 1787.

[If this does not play, my apologies.  Please click here:


One hopes that young Mr. Austin Chapman may one day hear this, and indeed visit the city  where this great man lived, died and left an incomparably beautiful and inspiring legacy for the Ages.


Hat-tips to:

Classic FM (London): http://www.classicfm.com/composers/mozart/news/deaf-man-hears-mozart-first-time-new-hearing-aid/

Mr. Austin Chapman’s website is here: http://www.artofthestory.com/ Twitter: @Artofthestory

Phonak Corporation, www.phonak.com, Twitter: @PhonakFM

Stephansdom,  St Stephan’s Cathedral Vienna, http://www.stephansdom.at/,  Twitter: @StephansdomWien

The community of Stäfa, Switzerland outside Zurich welcomes visitors (albeit via a website in German, only):  http://www.staefa.ch/xml_1/internet/de/intro.cfm

Mozarthaus (Mozart’s house) Vienna website: http://www.mozarthausvienna.at/ Twitter: @MozarthausVie

Here is Fingal’s Cave as it was meant to be performed; The London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Claudio Abbado

Fingal’s Cave Abbado LSO

This version is available on Deutsche Grammophon, ASIN: B000001G8R via Amazon USA here: http://www.amazon.com/Mendelssohn-Overtures-Felix-1/dp/B000001G8R/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1350659225&sr=1-2&keywords=fingals+cave+abbado+and+london+symphony+orchestra

Amazon UK here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=B000001G8R

The 1991 200th Anniversary recording by the late Sir Georg Solti, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, The Choir of the Vienna State Opera (Staatsoper), featuring Arleen Auger, Cecilia Bartoli, Vinson Cole and Rene Pape is on Decca London, ASIN: B0000041ZS and available at Amazon USA here: Amazon USA Mozart Requiem

Amazon UK here: Amazon UK Mozart Requiem