Discussion:
Why do you like Mozart's music?
(too old to reply)
Derek Hollman
2005-12-08 06:20:22 UTC
Permalink
Hey all,
I was interested in hearing some people's opinions on Mozart's
music. I don't have a strong opinion of my own, which is why I am
asking what other people think. The general view of him (from what
I've seen others say and from what I've read) is that he is a
musical genius. He was able to compose music effortlessly, flawlessly,
and beautifully. Even spending less time on his compositions, he was
leagues above his contemporaries.

I've heard his music described as many different things. It has
been called "light," "all the same," "boring," and "without passion."
On the other hand, however, I've also heard it called "perfect,"
"beautiful" (though I think this adjective is weak since so many people
define so many different types of music as beautiful), "technically
flawless," and "spiritual."

I don't subscribe to one view any more than the other. In fact,
I'm actually hesitant to subscribe to either. I guess what my point is
that I don't understand his music very well. I don't understand what
sets Mozart apart from other composers. I don't understand what
makes him unique. I know a lot of people dislike Mozart because they
think he sounds too "light:" he doesn't "say" anything; his
music isn't about anything. This, however, is not a view to which I
subscribe. I can enjoy music solely for music's sake (though I also
enjoy music that people describe as passionate, deep, etc.), and I do
enjoy a whole range of composers.

Perhaps if I describe why I like some of my favorite composers,
someone can point out to me how Mozart is genuinely unique from them
and how I can appreciate Mozart more because of this. A few of my
favorite composers are: Bach, Beethoven, Dvorak, Rimsky-Korsakov, and
Gershwin. I like Bach because of his polyphonic writing. It is the
way in which the different voices interact with each other, like making
a piece of rope out of multiple strands, that sets him apart. I would
describe some of his music as the most perfect music I have heard
(especially the first movement of the second Brandenburg concerto). As
for Beethoven, it's hard to describe in words, but there is just a
feeling I get when I listen to his music that overwhelms me. To me,
his music seems to flow unrelentlessly and takes me with it, creating
tension and relieving it. Dvorak was one of the first composers that I
started to enjoy. He has a nationalistic, homely, folk-like tone. I
know he didn't use any existing folk-tunes in his music, but many of
his melodies remind me of such. He could be vigorous while being
gentle and epic while being quietly lyrical. I think it's difficult
to dislike RK. His orchestrations are wonderfully colored; each
instrument (or group of instruments) has its own unique image and
purpose in his compositions. I find his works magical, like a fantasy.
Finally, I will speak about Gershwin. He was the composer that got me
started on classical music, specifically his Rhapsody in Blue. His
catchy melodies are what caught my ear at first. The more I listened,
however, the more I found to appreciate. I, too, moved on to his other
orchestral works: the piano concerto, his tone poem, etc. When I
listen to Gershwin, I get overwhelmed with a feeling of joy. During
many of the slower sections of his works, I feel Gershwin contrasts
this with a bittersweet expression of hopelessly wanting a dream to
come true.

Anyways, I should get back to my point.

While writing these short comments on my favorite composers, I re-read
the first story in Bernstein's "The Joy of Music." (the 'Why
Beethoven?' scene). Basically his argument of why Beethoven is such
a great composer is that when he listens to Beethoven, he feels a
feeling of inevitability, a feeling that every successive note could
only be that note and that note alone. This is how I view many of my
favorite composers, too. However, I don't get this impression as
much when I listen to Mozart. I feel like a lot of his works could be
pieced together differently or certain parts could be left out without
changing the work (with exceptions of course). I'm sure my view of
him is askew, but this is exactly why I am asking for others' view.

The works I've heard by Mozart are his last symphonies (35-41), a
handful of his piano concertos (17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27), the
Requiem, and one of his operas (Don Giovanni I think). I didn't
dislike any of what I heard, but none of it really stood out to me
either (except the Jupiter symphony, and especially the finale). I am
not much of an opera buff, so I did not find much help in Don Giovanni.


So, at this point, I guess I will come to the crux of this message.
Since you all have now heard my views about various composers, my likes
and dislikes, I now ask of you to share with me your views of Mozart
and why you enjoy (or dislike) his music. Do you affirm the belief
that he is one of the greatest composers we know? Why? Any opinion on
anything I've asked/stated is more than welcome. One could suggest
specific works that I should hear, books to read, or anything. I'm
very open to suggestion (though I have difficulty reading music -
which is why I'm having trouble finishing Rosen's "The Classical
Style"). Anyways, please share your thoughts!


Regards,
Derek
Thornhill
2005-12-08 08:02:10 UTC
Permalink
Speaking as a person who considers Mozart to be my favorite composer, a
few points on why people like yourself don't like him:

1. The notion that Mozart composed 'light' music is a result of
pop-culture appropriating his fluffier pieces for fluffy purposes (e.g.
commercials, background music at posh parties in movies, Muzak, etc.).

2. Another problem Mozart has is that his music is really quite
difficult to perform well. Artur Schnabel summed it up best: "Mozart is
too easy for beginners and too difficult for artists." No matter how
bad a performance of Dvorak or Beethoven is, it's pretty hard to kill
the music, while with Mozart, a bad performance will be pretty boring.

(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)

3. A third and final issue, is that the popular mainstream classical
genres, specifically symphonic, doesn't showcase Mozart at his best;
you haven't experienced Mozart until you've heard the seven mature
operas, much of his chamber and the concerti.

Generally speaking, I enjoy the sheer economy of Mozart's music.
There's nothing superfluous or dense about it. The music always unfolds
in a completely effortless manner, never forced. This is probably why
people think of his music as simple -- nothing sounds too difficult --
but on a theory level it is quite complex. What's really interesting,
is that Mozart did stuff which he must have realized that no one in the
his time would ever be able to appreciate unless they some how had the
opportunity to own one of his scores or hear a piece repeatedly, but
it's why the music has held up on repeated listening for 200 some
years. And Mozart never really tries to point out what he's up to
(compare the first movements of Mozart's 39th and Beethoven's 3rd,
where there are these dissonant moments in the 3rd that you think only
Beethoven could have thought of, but he really just swiped them from
Mozart's 39th). So in this sense Mozart does demand a lot from his
listeners. To take an obvious example, most people would completely
miss what's going on in the coda of the 41st symphony unless told.

You note that an often used adjective is "beautiful"; I think a far
more appropriate one is "elegant."

The operas are a tour-de-force of music, especially the Da Ponte operas
and Die Zauberflote. They have everything: great arias, brilliant
orchestral writing, memorable themes, and compelling plots (well, the
Da Ponte operas). No one quite writes these hectic multi-voice scenes
like Mozart. You might find video recordings on DVD more engaging than
audio only.


--
==================================

Seth Levi
Philadelphia, PA
Cell Phone: 215-915-3348
AOL IM: stuckeys10
Ian Pace
2005-12-08 10:20:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
It took me a long time to come to love Mozart - with hindsight, I see that
it was performances on modern instruments, in pre-HIP 'mainstream' style,
that put me off the work. I agree absolutely with you about the texture of
period instruments, but would go further in terms of approach to phrasing
and articulation. Much of Mozart's work is absolutely ruined to me when the
'long line' approach is applied - that's what makes it sound like
mantlepiece music. Actually it's intensely dramatic work that makes the most
from highly varied contrasts on the level of fine detail. The 'long line'
just smoothes over most of this. Mozart was an incredibly refined
orchestrator who understood intimately the particular sonic characteristics
of the instruments he wrote for and their combinations (and the techniques
of playing them that were standard at the time). So much of this is diluted
when the music is rendered in terms of later performance practice. Though
research into Mozart performance has been quite exhaustive, I still think
there's plenty left to try in terms of approaches which don't aim to
'prettify' the work (not doing so doesn't need imply a lack of refinement,
however).
Post by Thornhill
Generally speaking, I enjoy the sheer economy of Mozart's music.
There's nothing superfluous or dense about it. The music always unfolds
in a completely effortless manner, never forced. This is probably why
people think of his music as simple -- nothing sounds too difficult --
but on a theory level it is quite complex. What's really interesting,
is that Mozart did stuff which he must have realized that no one in the
his time would ever be able to appreciate unless they some how had the
opportunity to own one of his scores or hear a piece repeatedly, but
it's why the music has held up on repeated listening for 200 some
years. And Mozart never really tries to point out what he's up to
(compare the first movements of Mozart's 39th and Beethoven's 3rd,
where there are these dissonant moments in the 3rd that you think only
Beethoven could have thought of, but he really just swiped them from
Mozart's 39th). So in this sense Mozart does demand a lot from his
listeners. To take an obvious example, most people would completely
miss what's going on in the coda of the 41st symphony unless told.
You note that an often used adjective is "beautiful"; I think a far
more appropriate one is "elegant."
The operas are a tour-de-force of music, especially the Da Ponte operas
and Die Zauberflote. They have everything: great arias, brilliant
orchestral writing, memorable themes, and compelling plots (well, the
Da Ponte operas). No one quite writes these hectic multi-voice scenes
like Mozart. You might find video recordings on DVD more engaging than
audio only.
The operas are exceptionally forward-looking in so many respects, not least
in terms of attitudes to class and gender. Mozart invests even the minor
characters with immense depth and humanity, more so than would be apparent
from the libretti alone. Again, I'd recommend listening to recordings on
period instruments. I'm sure it's been discussed here before, but what are
people's views of the Jacobs Figaro? The only HIP recording I own is the
Gardiner, which I like in many respects, but find Terfel a little too cuddly
in his portrayal of Figaro himself.

Ian
William Sommerwerck
2005-12-08 12:01:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
The operas are exceptionally forward-looking in so many respects,
not least in terms of attitudes to class and gender. Mozart invests
even the minor characters with immense depth and humanity, more
so than would be apparent from the libretti alone. Again, I'd recommend
listening to recordings on period instruments. I'm sure it's been
discussed
Post by Ian Pace
here before, but what are people's views of the Jacobs Figaro?
Terrific. Certainly one of the finest recorded performances this opera has
ever gotten.
Jon Alan Conrad
2005-12-08 14:52:21 UTC
Permalink
I suppose each of us hears different things in Mozart, but speaking for
myself: What keeps drawing me back to Mozart is not historical or
executional considerations, valuable as those can be, but his emotional
complexity. I can't think of anyone better than Mozart at conveying
what actors call "subtext," the reconciling of opposites in the same
music. And I can't figure out how he did it! There are famous examples
of commentators hearing opposite characteristics in the same symphonic
movement ("Grecian serenity" vs. "angry drama," or some such thing) --
but the thing is, they're both right, both those qualities can be
there, inseparably mixed. He can convey power that also has tenderness,
joy tinged with regret, anything he cares to. Of course this is
immensely valuable in his operas (and I think the 3 Da Pontes, plus
MAGIC FLUTE, are as close to perfect as opera gets, and full of such
complexity -- COSI is a heartbreaking comedy), but it's there in the
instrumental works too. And his work that perhaps moves me the most,
the concert aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te," somehow conveys all the
opposites I've been talking about.

JAC
Thornhill
2005-12-08 15:07:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
It took me a long time to come to love Mozart - with hindsight, I see that
it was performances on modern instruments, in pre-HIP 'mainstream' style,
that put me off the work. I agree absolutely with you about the texture of
period instruments, but would go further in terms of approach to phrasing
and articulation. Much of Mozart's work is absolutely ruined to me when the
'long line' approach is applied - that's what makes it sound like
mantlepiece music. Actually it's intensely dramatic work that makes the most
from highly varied contrasts on the level of fine detail. The 'long line'
just smoothes over most of this. Mozart was an incredibly refined
orchestrator who understood intimately the particular sonic characteristics
of the instruments he wrote for and their combinations (and the techniques
of playing them that were standard at the time). So much of this is diluted
when the music is rendered in terms of later performance practice. Though
research into Mozart performance has been quite exhaustive, I still think
there's plenty left to try in terms of approaches which don't aim to
'prettify' the work (not doing so doesn't need imply a lack of refinement,
however).
Very true, and Mozart on modern instruments with some HIP sensibilities
can work quite well. Mackerras' recording of the 35th and 39th
symphonies with the Prague Chamber Orchestra are among my favor Mozart
recordings.

Another instrument Mozart understood inside-out and wrote for
specifically was the fortepiano. For example, compared the modern
piano, the fp's smaller reverberation rate lets you get away with quick
attacks of the keyboard; Mozart exploits this (as did Schubert).
Post by Ian Pace
The operas are exceptionally forward-looking in so many respects, not least
in terms of attitudes to class and gender. Mozart invests even the minor
characters with immense depth and humanity, more so than would be apparent
from the libretti alone. Again, I'd recommend listening to recordings on
period instruments. I'm sure it's been discussed here before, but what are
people's views of the Jacobs Figaro? The only HIP recording I own is the
Gardiner, which I like in many respects, but find Terfel a little too cuddly
in his portrayal of Figaro himself.
While I prefer Gardiner's "Figaro" for its superior orchestral playing,
Hagley's youthful sounding voice in Susanna, Gilfry having more fun
than he should as the Count and the collective excitement of a live
recording, Jacobs' recording is definitely worth picking up for the
clarity and lyricism of the recitatives brilliant addition of a
fortepiano continuo and excellent cast. If you like Gardiner's
"Figaro," pickup his "Don Giovanni" and "Cosi" (especially the DVD
version which Gardiner did the production -- for once the ending is
cleverly ambiguous).
Simon Roberts
2005-12-08 15:26:00 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>, Thornhill
says...

[snip]
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
[snip]

"Unlike Haydn"?

Simon
Thornhill
2005-12-08 16:16:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Roberts
says...
[snip]
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
[snip]
"Unlike Haydn"?
Simon
When I wrote that, I was thinking in the back of my mind that the
development of symphonic and orchestral composition goes Haydn, Mozart
then Beethoven, with the major difference between Haydn and Mozart is
that Haydn composed for string orchestra with winds, brass and timpani,
and without proper attention to balance, listeners miss out on how much
Mozart composed for wind and brass in his orchestral music, and thus
miss out on the color of his music (yeah that's a long sentence).
Simon Roberts
2005-12-08 16:27:02 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>, Thornhill
says...
Post by Thornhill
Post by Simon Roberts
says...
[snip]
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
[snip]
"Unlike Haydn"?
Simon
When I wrote that, I was thinking in the back of my mind that the
development of symphonic and orchestral composition goes Haydn, Mozart
then Beethoven, with the major difference between Haydn and Mozart is
that Haydn composed for string orchestra with winds, brass and timpani,
and without proper attention to balance, listeners miss out on how much
Mozart composed for wind and brass in his orchestral music, and thus
miss out on the color of his music (yeah that's a long sentence).
Simon Roberts
2005-12-08 16:28:32 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>, Thornhill
says...
Post by Thornhill
Post by Simon Roberts
says...
[snip]
Post by Thornhill
(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)
[snip]
"Unlike Haydn"?
Simon
When I wrote that, I was thinking in the back of my mind that the
development of symphonic and orchestral composition goes Haydn, Mozart
then Beethoven, with the major difference between Haydn and Mozart is
that Haydn composed for string orchestra with winds, brass and timpani,
and without proper attention to balance, listeners miss out on how much
Mozart composed for wind and brass in his orchestral music, and thus
miss out on the color of his music (yeah that's a long sentence).
I agree, but would also suggest it's true of Haydn as well, that's all.

Simon
Thornhill
2005-12-08 08:02:21 UTC
Permalink
Speaking as a person who considers Mozart to be my favorite composer, a
few points on why people like yourself don't like him:

1. The notion that Mozart composed 'light' music is a result of
pop-culture appropriating his fluffier pieces for fluffy purposes (e.g.
commercials, background music at posh parties in movies, Muzak, etc.).

2. Another problem Mozart has is that his music is really quite
difficult to perform well. Artur Schnabel summed it up best: "Mozart is
too easy for beginners and too difficult for artists." No matter how
bad a performance of Dvorak or Beethoven is, it's pretty hard to kill
the music, while with Mozart, a bad performance will be pretty boring.

(I'm going to take heat for this, but I feel that Mozart is one of a
handful of composers whose music sounds better when performed on period
instruments. This is not to say that modern instruments are inadequate
and great things can't be done with them, but the texture of period
instruments just sounds 'right' to me; their rough and sharper sound
gives the music more bite. Another problem with his orchestral music is
that conductors call for too many strings. Unlike Haydn, in Mozart's
orchestral music the winds and brass are an equal partner with the
strings; large string sections obscure this, result in a dense string
layer. You never need more than 8/8/4/4/3 or even just 8/6/4/4/2)

3. A third and final issue, is that the popular mainstream classical
genres, specifically symphonic, doesn't showcase Mozart at his best;
you haven't experienced Mozart until you've heard the seven mature
operas, much of his chamber and the concerti.

Generally speaking, I enjoy the sheer economy of Mozart's music.
There's nothing superfluous or dense about it. The music always unfolds
in a completely effortless manner, never forced. This is probably why
people think of his music as simple -- nothing sounds too difficult --
but on a theory level it is quite complex. What's really interesting,
is that Mozart did stuff which he must have realized that no one in the
his time would ever be able to appreciate unless they some how had the
opportunity to own one of his scores or hear a piece repeatedly, but
it's why the music has held up on repeated listening for 200 some
years. And Mozart never really tries to point out what he's up to
(compare the first movements of Mozart's 39th and Beethoven's 3rd,
where there are these dissonant moments in the 3rd that you think only
Beethoven could have thought of, but he really just swiped them from
Mozart's 39th). So in this sense Mozart does demand a lot from his
listeners. To take an obvious example, most people would completely
miss what's going on in the coda of the 41st symphony unless told.

You note that an often used adjective is "beautiful"; I think a far
more appropriate one is "elegant."

The operas are a tour-de-force of music, especially the Da Ponte operas
and Die Zauberflote. They have everything: great arias, brilliant
orchestral writing, memorable themes, and compelling plots (well, the
Da Ponte operas). No one quite writes these hectic multi-voice scenes
like Mozart. You might find video recordings on DVD more engaging than
audio only.
William Sommerwerck
2005-12-08 11:58:08 UTC
Permalink
The real question should be... Why would anybody _not_ like it?
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-12-08 15:29:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Sommerwerck
The real question should be... Why would anybody _not_ like it?
Brain damage?
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
John Thomas
2005-12-08 15:00:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Derek Hollman
Hey all,
I was interested in hearing some people's opinions on Mozart's
music
To quote the equally incomparable Louis Armstrong on jazz, "If you
have to ask you'll never know."
--
Regards,
John Thomas
Andrys Basten
2005-12-08 10:58:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Derek Hollman
Hey all,
I was interested in hearing some people's opinions on Mozart's
music. I don't have a strong opinion of my own, which is why I am
asking what other people think. The general view of him (from what
I've seen others say and from what I've read) is that he is a
musical genius. He was able to compose music effortlessly, flawlessly,
and beautifully. Even spending less time on his compositions, he was
leagues above his contemporaries.
I've heard his music described as many different things. It has
been called "light," "all the same," "boring," and "without passion."
They like to pick those for "Mozart in the Morning" shows here
and it's no wonder you wouldn't care for what you heard.

I happened to see Amadeus last night. It's sometimes harder
to hear all that is happening in something like the Symphony 40
until, as in my case, a couple of us tried a 4-hand version of it
because, actively, you notice all that is working there, while
with the more blanded out orchestral treatments of the past,
for listeners sometimes everything is blended together in a sort
of tranquil smoothness that takes out all the edge from his
progressions and shifts.

At any rate, if you rent Amadeus, ignore the goofy laugh
that the actor gives Mozart (who -was- a bit of a loon in his
written communication) and listen to the music as Salieri
hears it. The sequence at the end, when he creates
and builds sequences in the Requiem is amazing.

But some of his best music is played all through.

I was disappointed in the Papageno/Papagena duet, which
in Bergman's version was actually very touching but
not here (sounding more like Mozart in the morning).

I'd be interested in your take after hearing some of that.

- Andrys
--
http://andrys1.blogspot.com
r***@gmail.com
2005-12-08 17:57:52 UTC
Permalink
I don't have the musical knowledge, or even the vocabulary, that most
of you seem to have, but Mozart *is* my second-favorite composer. I can
spend months listening to very little else in the world besides Mozart.
Every couple of years I find myself listening to the piano concertos. I
have them by different performers, and hardly have any favorites. Maybe
Brendel and Perahia, but that's mainly because those were my first
exposures.

This music is so good, I don't have to listen to a specific version to
enjoy it completely, something that's not true of my favorite composer,
Mahler. I have very specific favorite versions of Mahler symphonies,
and I hardly ever listen to anything but my favorite
conductor/recording.

Mozart's music, as I think I read someone else say here, seems
inevitable, perfect, and easy. Each note seems as if it could never be
wrong, or ever be anything other than exactly what it is. I've probably
listened to Mozart more than any other composer in the 20 years or so
that I've been listening to classical.

The only person who comes close as far as "inevitable" and "perfect"
are concerned is Brian Wilson. I believe that these two composers are
played in heaven on alternate days, and that that's all the music you
need in heaven.
Vaneyes
2005-12-08 18:02:05 UTC
Permalink
Very often he gives me happy feet.

Regards
k***@yahoo.co.uk
2005-12-08 19:07:31 UTC
Permalink
In "Classical Music" (10 March 1984) Robert Hartford wrote an article
entitled "Mozart - the ten-per-cent genius." In it he argued that for a
composer hailed as an all-time genius, "Mozart wrote some pretty
ordinary music." Of the 600-odd compositions left for successive
generations to choose from, "barely one-tenth of Mozart's music has
found any lasting favour. ... Mozart wrote 22 operas yet only five of
them ever see the light of day ... Then there are the symphonies. Out
of more than 40, a mere eight or nine turn up on concert programmes."
Hartford asks: "When did you last hear Mozart's 37th Symphony, which
once stood in the Mozart canon, neighbour of the 'Linz' and the
'Prague', given its due as a comparable vessel of Mozart's genius? Then
it was discovered to be by Michael Haydn and was promptly consigned to
oblivion."

Hartford then explains the 'Dittersdorf game' in which one selects a
record of late 18th century music and asks the listeners to name the
composer. "Oh, Mozart," they will reply. "No, it's by Dittersdorf. ...
or Hummel, or Sussmayer, or Duschek, or even the afore-mentioned
Michael Haydn." Hartford adds: "Indeed it could be by a thousand
others, none recognisable as a genius, but all sounding uncommonly like
Mozart."

In conclusion, Hartford writes: "I have the cure for Mozart idolatry
... A diet of serenades, divertimentos, counter-dances, marches,
minuets and church canons, relieved not by 'Figaro' or 'The Magic
Flute' but by 'La Betulia liberata' and 'Ascanio in alba,' which will
improve the condition in a way only a concentrated intake of D and B
flat major is able."

In contrast to all the hyperbole, doubtless many will agree with Robert
Hartford's assessment that Mozart wrote "more music in the commonplace
vein than any other of the really great composers" and was just "a
workaday craftsman who wrote his best music in the last four years of
his life."
John Thomas
2005-12-08 20:04:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by k***@yahoo.co.uk
In contrast to all the hyperbole, doubtless many will agree with Robert
Hartford's assessment that Mozart wrote "more music in the commonplace
vein than any other of the really great composers" and was just "a
workaday craftsman who wrote his best music in the last four years of
his life."
Even Beethoven could write a "Wellington's Victory" and even Tolstoy
could end his career with "Resurrection." The bulk of the work of most
geniuses, even in science, is mediocre. I'm happy to drink from a glass
that's still 10% full.
--
Regards,
John Thomas
Stephen Montgomery-Smith
2005-12-08 19:18:40 UTC
Permalink
I find that as the years go by, that my tastes in music change quite a
bit. In particular, music that a few years ago sonded boring and trite
can suddenly sound completely profound and the most beatiful thing I
ever heard.

My theory is that certain music is so profound, and musically very fast
moving, that often the brain is simply not capable of processing the
music fast enough to fully enjoy it.

I think that Mozart most certainly belongs in this category. I would
rate Mozart's music as being on the fringe of what my brain is able to
process. So, for example, I think that his 21st piano concerto is
perhaps the most beatiful music in the world. I would similarly rate
the slow movement from his 41st symphony. Some of his other stuff I
find very boring. But I now thing that the problem is definitely with
me - not the music itself.

I found that a really good way to "train" my brain is to listen to late
Schoenberg. After listening to it a few times, I still don't get what
it is about. But then when I listen to other composers, I suddenly
really understand it. Indeed one thing I found out was that I used to
be only able to listen to one musical line at a time. Now I am able to
listen to about 3 or 4 at a time. My enjoyment of music is greatly
increased.

Stephen
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