Albert Einstein said that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart’s “was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.” That’s what is so remarkable; it exists on the human scale and the infinite scale at the same time! And it reveals the infinite in humanity. It’s all there. Question for my friend Don Lee: what’s missing in Mozart that you find in Bach?
In response to Don’s musings about Mozart…
One of my old friends heard me on the air around Mozart’s birthday and sent me an email:
Do the people you work with know that you once said you don’t much care for Mozart? Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me. Or perhaps Mozart bashing is a badge of honor among your colleagues and that’s how you got where you are today — by pretending not to like Mozart.
I’ll tell all y’all what I told him.
To clarify: my anti-Mozart stance is as a cellist. I still maintain that orchestral Mozart is boring as heck to play. Kind of like the mortar in a lovely stone wall – it holds everything together but it’s not compelling on its own.
His chamber music, though, is fun. I’ve played the same book of Mozart quartets over and over for decades and I never get tired of them.
And as for listening? Well.
There are meals that are everything I expect – pleasant, sturdy and satisfying, but not the kind of thing I’d get a fierce craving for. Then there are meals where I THINK I know what’s coming and then the first mouthful just knocks me out of my seat. Like the first time I had a wally waffle from Al’s Diner in Dinkytown. It was unadulterated, completely unexpected bliss.
To wit: Mozart’s music is everything I expect – pleasant and satisfying, but I never get a fierce hankering for it.
Mozart’s 250th birthday has passed but The Mozart Year has only just begun. While I know I won’t tire of hearing his concertos, symphonies, quartets or any of his music, I know I won’t revel in it either. I’m one of those people who’s a Mozart admirer but not a Mozart lover. Musicians speak of the great depth concealed beneath the simple, beautiful surface of Mozart’s music. But it seldom compels me to plunge beneath that surface, not in the way Bach’s music does, for example.
All of this, to recall a college music professor’s admonition, says more about me than it does about Mozart. I put it out there because I wonder how many kindred spirits I might have. What do you really think of Mozart?