Mozart in Space: A Love Story

  • Heidi Hart
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature book series (PASTMULI)


The 1977 Voyager II Golden Record includes sounds of animals and humans on Earth, as well as music ranging from Bulgarian folk songs to the Queen of the Night’s famous aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute. This once-utopian project seems quaint in the era of climate crisis and renewed nuclear threats, not to mention the extreme unlikelihood of its being heard by alien “ears.” The recording tells a love story, through the collaboration between Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, and also of human beings toward the larger cosmos. At the same time, the violence of the Mozart aria “talks back” to its own, recorded historical moment from a darker future.


Utopia Music Media transmission Adaptation 


  1. Allen, Aaron S., and Kevin Dawe, Editors. Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Nature, Culture. New York: Routledge, 2016.Google Scholar
  2. Atwood, Margaret. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. London and New York: Doubleday, 2011.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, Jim. The Interstellar Age: The Story of the NASA Men and Women Who Flew the Forty-Year Voyager Mission. New York: Dutton, 2016.Google Scholar
  4. Bruhn, Jørgen. “How Do ‘We’ React to the Anthropocene? Scientific Concepts Transformed into Media Products—And Affects.” Draft of Material Presented at IEAT Research Centre, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, May 2016.Google Scholar
  5. Claeys, Gregory. Dystopia: A Natural History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.Google Scholar
  6. Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.Google Scholar
  7. Emmelheinz, Irmgard. “Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthropocene.” In Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, eds. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, 131–142. London: Open Humanities Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  8. Graham, William. “ULA Atlas V Successfully Launches Secretive CLIO Mission.” NASASpaceFlight website, September 16, 2014.
  9. Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  10. Hart, Heidi. “Translating Bodies: A Spatial Approach to Words and Music.” Danish Musicology Online, Special Edition, 27–40, 2016.Google Scholar
  11. Horowitz-Ghazi, Alexi. “The Voyager Golden Record Finally Finds an Earthly Audience.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio, September 30, 2017.
  12. Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament. New York: Random House, 2001.Google Scholar
  13. Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. London and New York: Verso Books, 2005.Google Scholar
  14. Kaplan, E. Ann. Climate Trauma: Foreseeing the Future in Dystopian Film and Fiction. New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  15. Krämer, Sybille. Medium, Messenger, Transmission: An Approach to Media Philosophy. Trans. Anthony Enns. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  16. Lepore, Jill. “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction.” The New Yorker, June 5 and 12, 2017.
  17. McCluhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Boston: MIT Press, 1994 (1964).Google Scholar
  18. Morena, Anthony Michael. The Voyager Record: A Transmission. Brookline, MA: Rose Metal Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  19. Morton, Timothy. Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  20. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Voyager website,
  21. O’Hagan, Ellie May. “Climate Optimism Has Been a Disaster.” The Guardian, September 21, 2017.
  22. Ronda, Margaret. “Anthropogenic Poetics.” Minnesota Review 83 (2015): 102–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ross, Alex. “Tremors: The Deep Sounds of Ashley Fure’s ‘The Force of Things.’” The New Yorker, October 30, 2017, 74–75.Google Scholar
  24. Showstack, Randy. “Nick Sagan Reflects on Voyager I and the Golden Record.” Eos 94, no. 40 (October 2013): 351.Google Scholar
  25. Wolf, Werner. The Musicalization of Fiction: A Study in the Theory and History of Intermediality. Rodopi: Amsterdam and Atlanta, 1999.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi Hart
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations