Mozart

This year is the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The year will be filled with Mozart concerts, tributes, radio shows, and so on. Most music writers are weighing in with tributes, but one critic will have no part of the love-fest. Although I am not so sour on Mozart, I do enjoy this line:

Where 10 days of Bach on a classical music radio station will flush out the ears and open minds to limitless vistas, the coming year of Mozart feels like a term at Guantanamo Bay without the sunshine.

There will be no refuge from neatly resolved chords, no escaping that ingratiating musical grin.


As long as Bach remains high on his pedestal, I am happy to consider Mozart a genius as well. I think of genius as a subjective and singular view of the world which the artist imprints on everything he does, for better or worse. In Mozart's case, the results were magic. The lightness and purity in Mozart which the above critic sees as unbearable sweetness hasn't been duplicated by anybody else. If you can't stand it, go listen to Shastakovich.

When listening to public radio and trying to figure out who is the composer of the obviously late 18th century stuff coming over the speaker, I apply a test: If it sounds like Mozart but lacks sparkle, it is Haydn. If it sounds like Mozart but is too insistent, it is Beethoven hacking away. If it sounds simple, elegant and perfectly proportioned, it is Mozart.