Program Notes

“and tell him that in a few days I shall send him some observations and diagrams of sunspots which are absolutely exact both as to their shape and their variation of position from day to day, drawn without a hairsbreadth of error in a very elegant manner…”. Galileo Galilei, “Historia e Dimostrazioni intorno alle Macchie Solari…” (Giacomo Mascardi, Roma, 1613)

The sunspot letters which appeared in the “Istoria e Dimostrazioni intorno alle Macchie Solari…” were exchanged between Galileo Galilei and Mark Welser in 1612. In them, Galileo explains his reasons for believing that sunspots are not planets but something at or on the surface of the sun. Galileo had the letters and his almost daily drawings of sunspots published in the hope that his careful documentation and the reasoning of his arguments would convince his jealous colleagues ("the pigeon league" as his friends called them) that he was not advocating heresy but rather, attempting to discover the true nature of the universe through direct observation. This piece is a contribution to the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose work could not have been more “elegant” and whose gifts, in his chosen field, like Galileo’s, seem miraculous. Like sunspots, today’s composers bloom out of the brilliant body of work which Mozart produced. The original version of "Sunspot Letters", commissioned by The Gallery Players of Niagara, was written for oboe and string trio. The version for clarinet and string trio was arranged for Bozzini Quartet and clarinetist François Houle.