Remarks Following a Concert by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

July 8, 1981

[To the orchestra] The applause is for you.

The only thing that I have in common with them that would cause you applauding me is that I've got a white coat on, too. [Laughter]

Wasn't that lovely? I think it was. [Applause]

Speaking for Nancy and, I'm sure, for all of you, it was a thrill to hear the American premiere of this long-lost Mozart symphony performed here on the South Lawn of the White House and performed so beautifully by you, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center. And I thank you, Leonard Slatkin, and all of you fine musicians, you very wonderful musicians, for bringing this traditional New York City Mostly Mozart Festival to Washington.

And thank you for allowing us to hear what Mozart meant when he said, ``Music should never be painful to the ear, but should flatter and charm it.'' And you certainly did that.

Someone once wrote that whether the angels play only Bach while praising God, we can't be sure, but we do know that when they play for themselves, they play Mozart. [Laughter] And now we know why.

But, you know, when we talk about this incredible genius -- and Haydn, Mozart's instructor, called him the greatest composer ever -- we sometimes forget that important part that we were reminded of him, that Mozart was really a child prodigy. He played the klavier when he was three, and he composed a symphony -- the symphony you just heard -- as you've been told, when he was only nine. Now, personally I never forget little facts like that, because no one appreciates youth more than I do. [Laughter] I've had quite a while to appreciate it -- [laughter] -- but I mention this, because in a sense this afternoon is our way of saluting youth in arts.

You see, in addition to Mozart, we're doubly honored today to be able to pay tribute to another young prodigy -- one of our own. On June 25th, 17-year-old Amanda McKerrow, from Rockville, Maryland, made ballet history by winning the gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition. No American has ever won this award before. And just to give you an idea how sensational she was, one of Amanda's performances drew eight curtain calls from one of the world's most partisan and knowledgeable audiences.

And now, Amanda, I hope you won't mind if we ask you and your parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alan McKerrow, to all stand for a moment so we can let you know how proud and how happy we are and how happy you've made all of us, too. [Applause]

So, today we honor history and those who make it. And, come to think of it, I've made just a little bit of history here myself. I've nearly completed an entire public appearance without even once mentioning our tax proposal. [Laughter] And it's not the place for it. I'm not going to tell you that we need a 25-percent, personal rate reduction across the board for 3 years -- [laughter] -- or that we need it now. I won't mention that. [Laughter]

Before I take the spotlight off where it belongs, let me just invite all of you now -- and incidently, this is a very special audience, too, because this concert might have been played in this same way in this same place with a different cast of characters, both in the audience and myself, if it hadn't been for so many of you and what you did.

But now, it is warm in here, and to escape the summer heat, the state rooms in the Residence are prepared with nice cool refreshments for all of you.

And again, our heartfelt thanks to all of you for honoring us as you have. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:57 p.m. inside a tent constructed on the South Lawn for the concert.

The performance included Mozart's Symphony in F, K. 19a, which was composed in 1765 and thought to be lost until its discovery in 1980 in the Federal Republic of Germany.