Graduation Speech: Become People With Passion

988 words - 4 pages

Christmas Eve in Princeton, N.J, usually fulfills the picture-postcard promise of Christmas. And it was so, on that one particular Christmas Eve long ago. A light snowfall kissed the quaint Princeton houses, and door-to-door carol singers made their way to one particular door. The violinist's home. "O little town of Bethlehem," the boys sang, "how still we see thee lie..." In moments the door opened, and the gentle violinist stood in the doorway to greet the carolers. "Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by..." The musician turned away, turned back into the house. Shortly he returned with his violin! The great man, the gentle old musician, accompanied the midnight carolers on his beloved instrument through each verse of the age-old hymn. Then, without a word, the young people turned away silently, and the old man slowly closed the door. And if this true story, if it is made more wonderful, it is not because a seasoned violin was brought out of retirement for one last spontaneous recital, but because the violinist himself has the best reason of all not to celebrate that snowy Christmas scene. The great genius was a Jew, and so revered was he that the very presidency of Israel once could have been his. But here is the rest of the story. Musicians will tell you, every great genius has his idol. This violinist's idol was Mozart. Once, a friend asked the violinist to comment on modern times. When the musician was a boy, wars were fought with rifles and cannons. Now the entire world might be devastated. What did that mean to the old man? The violinist hesitated, sat back thoughtfully in his chair. "It would mean," he said at last, "that people would no longer hear Mozart." For him, this most deeply conveyed the end of civilization. Mozart's music was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master. For him, Mozart was what the world was all about. And when this violinist was offered the highest Jewish honor - the presidency of Israel - he declined, saying that he felt unqualified for a role that involved human relations. Yet who could have felt human warmth more deeply than the musician who worshipped Mozart, than the old Jewish gentleman who serenaded Christian carolers from his last home? For him, Mozart was not a composer but a discoverer, a discoverer of celestial music that lay waiting in the universe. So when the violinist began to explore the universe, those closest to him believed that he was merely searching for what Mozart had found. For the musician who worshipped Mozart, the revered genius who could have been president of Israel, was the man who literally altered the meaning of infinity, hoping to discover -...

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