Why Mozart's The Magic Flute is on the Voyager Golden Record

Aria Code is WQXR and Met Opera’s captivating podcast that deconstructs famous arias. Believe me, even if you don't know anything about opera, or think you "don't like it," Aria Code is a fascinating way in. This week, they delve into Mozart's Queen of the Night, "the rage-fest" from The Magic Flute. This is a special episode for me because this aria was included on the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. The Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, from Bach to Blind Willie Johnson to Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes to, yes, Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record. It's a stunning compilation that stands the test of time (and space).

Science and philosophy writer Timothy Ferris was the producer of the original Voyager Record. I was delighted to hear him on this episode of Aria Code explaining why the "Queen of the Night" made the cut and is now hurling through interstellar space.

"Mozart is an interesting composer from a mathematical standpoint," Tim says. "That is, you can find mathematical relationships rather easily in his music. And we had that a bit in mind when we were putting the Voyager Record together."

Learn more by listening below:

The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition is available from Ozma Records.