the Mozart Question – Michael Morpurgo
Renowned author, Michael Morpurgo, deals with yet another challenging issue in this short tale – how can we discuss trials and tragedies of the past? How do we heal the impact of extreme and damaging situations which haunt survivors – things their descendants struggle to understand?
When a young reporter is thrust into an important interview with a famous violinist, she is warned not to ask ‘the Mozart question’. Thankfully, she is unaware of what this means and in her innocence of this, she is able to develop an extremely meaningful and significant conversation with a descendant – of a survivor – of a Nazi concentration camp.
Morpurgo has written several stories related to the impact of war – most famously, War Horse, which has been made into both a global stage play and a movie. ‘The Mozart Question’ tackles the silence many families have faced, post-war, and gives younger readers a hint of discussions that never happened after major wars. What were the things that no-one wanted to discuss? How hard was it to have been a survivor? What were the impacts on life after survival?
‘The Mozart Question’ represents many of the unasked questions we have for survivors of war. In this story, we might ask:
- Why doesn’t Paulo’s Papa play his violin anymore?
- Why did his mother never reveal that she also played violin?
- How will they react to Paulo’s violin lessons?
Morpurgo offers one type of resolution to come through an extreme wartime experience – what can we learn from this? Can it reflect real life? and what can we learn about human resilience in the face of historical tragedy? Can stories like this show us what people have faced in times of war and beyond? Yes, yes!
# Listen to Michael Morpurgo (2010) discussing where his stories spring from: