Almanac Memoir (and Music): The Last Time


The Last Time


‘Last times’ are interesting.


Recently, I was talking to a mate about this. He was my playwrighting partner, and we wrote over ten books together, mainly collections of short plays marketed to schools. They’ve been out of print for more than a decade – but it was worth doing them at the time. The last book we co-wrote was around 2003.


Beginning in the mid-1980s, my mate and I often had a session in the nets at East Geelong Technical School, at times when the kids weren’t there, like early on summer evenings. He possessed a Derek Underwood run up, and delivery style, but lacked the Pommie master’s accuracy, though when he did manage to properly land one of his high-arm action, medium pace, out-of-the-back-of-the-hand top spinners, it was almost unplayable. But we got older, moved to different parts of town, then eventually even further apart, geographically speaking. I reckon the last time we had a net session at the Tech was around 1992, when I was thirty and he was thirty-six.



‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood, 2008. 87 Tests for England, 297 wickets @ 25.83 (Source: Wikipedia.)


Years earlier, my former playwrighting partner and I wrote songs together; in that partnership, he did the lyrics and me the music. The main songwriting period for us was 1984-5. I reckon the last song we co-wrote was probably about 1988. I still have some of them on a cassette, which I recently copied to CD.


This personal stuff got me thinking about historic ‘last times’, and for some reason one that has recurred in my mind over the years involves the composer Mozart. I’m a fan of esoterica, and Mozart’s Masonic music certainly comes under that category. He was a Freemason for the last seven years of his life (1784-1791) and during that era wrote music for various Masonic purposes.


‘A Masonic lodge meeting of Mozart’s day, once thought to portray Mozart’s own lodge. Oil painting (1789), Wienmuseum Vienna.’ (Quote and image: Wikipedia.)


Where does the ‘last time’ apply here? Well, that’s pretty straightforward; come to think of it, there are in fact two ‘last times’ relevant in this context. Mozart’s last finished composition was The Little Masonic Cantata (Kleine Freimaurer-Kantate) in C major, for soloists, male chorus, and orchestra (K. 623), with a known completion date of November 15, 1791. (It is stirring, uplifting music – and can be heard via YouTube below.) Three days later, his final appearance in public was as conductor of this cantata at the dedication of his Viennese Lodge’s new temple, the New Crowned Hope Lodge, on November 18. On November 20, he became ill enough to take to his bed, and died, aged thirty-five, just after midnight on December 5. The cause of his death is still widely debated.




I suppose our lives are full of last times, and of course they are not necessarily sad occasions, either – they can be the opposite, or somewhere in between.





W.A. Mozart – KV 623 – Freimaurerkantate in C major


For more from Kevin, click HERE.


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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose. He laments the extinction of Cascade Pale Ale and Kiwi Lager.

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