Alan Alda And Mozart “M*A*S*H” Staples

The final episode of “M*A*S*H” aired nearly 2 decades before they were born.

But 5 Staples High School musicians played Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581, flawlessly last night.

They played it far better, in fact, than the 5 Chinese musicians who made it famous, in the “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” episode that Alan Alda co-wrote and directed. With over 100 million viewers that night, it remains the most-watched finale of any American television series ever.

Alan Alda posed last night with Staples’ quintet (from left): Woongki Hong, James Gikas, Michael Fording, Jack Whitten and Sophia Thomas. (Photo/Kelle Ruden)

Carrie Mascaro’s students were at the Westport Library last night, as part of Alda’s “Booked for the Evening” appearance. In the middle of Cynthia Gibb’s introduction — as she noted his many “M*A*S*H” accomplishments — the Staples quintet struck up the piece that struck such a chord with Major Charles Winchester.

It still affects anyone who has ever seen that stunning final episode.

And why did Alda pick that particular piece to weave into his finale?

He met his future wife Arlene more than 60 years ago. She’s a professional clarinetist — and she was playing that very same beautiful Mozart melody.

10 responses to “Alan Alda And Mozart “M*A*S*H” Staples

  1. Dorrie Barlow Thomas

    oooooooooooh, Dan, ya got me right in the heart! great, great piece…LOVE hearing the backstory to the Mozart melody’s prominence in Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. THANK YOU!

  2. Cathy Barnett

    Was Arlene Alda there too? She’s an accomplished photographer, uses a lot of natural elements in her work. She and Alan co-authored a book a while back about growing up in the Bronx. Sorry I missed you Hawkeye😙

  3. so grateful you had reason to post this, I referred to this episode after a yoga class in west village a few weeks ago, and NOBODY knew what I was talking about…(I was like how could anybody forget this episode, this and the scene in which they are on bus and he has to tell the woman to quiet her ‘chicken’…(I was just a child and I remember that scene so well; esp when I’ve worked in difficult places with human trafficking issues, I take remembering that scene as a reminder not to be too bossy with people, let everyone do what they need to do and whatever that results in is good. Must have been fantastic to be there with him seeing it/hearing the score to it again. Susan Farley

    • Nancy Hunter

      Please use your name, Susan, not your platform.

      • Nancy, some people are signed in with WordPress — it automatically defaults to that. I change it when I can. One more part of monitoring comments — including all the back-and-forth on the climate stories.

    • Sharon Paulsen

      Isn’t it something, Susan, to realize that there’s an entire group of gen’s out there who didn’t experience the M.A.S.H. series (even in repeat syndication and whatnot), or never knew it existed?


      • Cathy Barnett

        There are so many cable stations running M*A*S*H reruns it’s impossible to miss; TVLand, MEtv, Sundance, AMC, it seems more popular than ever!

  4. Hanne Jeppesen

    Loved Mash and Alan Alda, believe I have seen most of the episodes, and most of Alan Alda’s movies. Two comes to mind that you rarely hear about, one about Cheryl Chessman (don’t know the name) Alan of course was playing against type, but pulled it off, the other “The Seduction to Joe Tynan with Meryl Streep. If you are and Alda fan you might one to check them out. Saw Alan Alda when he did a book signing here in the San Francisco Bay Area years ago, at least 12-15 years ago, didn’t disappoint. Also many of the Mash episode can be watched on UTube

  5. Nancy Hunter

    “Canadian Bacon”. Apropos.