It’s Mozart’s 250th birthday today! Celebrations are taking place around the world:
It’s a birthday bash being heard around the world. The cobblestoned and turreted city of Mozart’s birth was the focal point for Friday’s 250th anniversary celebrations – but the sound of the master’s music was being heard around the globe.
Orchestras halls and opera houses worldwide planned performances of his works. Piano students scheduled Mozart marathons and puppeteers were planning jubilee performances as hundreds of cities across five continents toasted the musical genius.
For mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager, Mozart is “a gift from God” and “the light I orient my life around.”
Salzburg cabbie Andrea Gautsch put it more simply Friday: “For us, Mozart came with mother’s milk.”
Too much hoopla? Consider this: Mozart wrote his first symphonies before turning 10 and his first significant opera at 12. He was instrumental in changing opera into the form we enjoy today.
AP has a “primer on getting to know Mozart.”
Paul Greenberg at JWR pays elegant tribute:
There is a scene in the fictional but beautiful movie Amadeus in which old Salieri, Mozart’s musical rival at court, tries to describe the indescribable lilt of a lone flute that slowly carries the listener to the very gates of Heaven, if not higher.
In the end, all his envy wiped away by his sheer admiration for the work of this magical creature, and in his sheer joy at the way that single perfect sound mounts and surmounts all, our fictive Salieri can only sigh:
It’s a feeling any lover of Mozart will know: a sublime shock of recognition. For that one moment, Salieri is us — ordinary mortals in the presence of the immortal.
And that’s just one flute solo. If Mozart could create music like that for an instrument he is said to have disliked, imagine what he could do with instruments he was fond of. We don’t have to imagine. Just listen.
That flute solo may be the signature of Mozart’s art, which is not a matter of quantity but quality. Even when W.A. Mozart wrote for several pianos, or whole orchestras with massed choirs, they become a single instrument in his hands, and in our soaring minds.
The effect is miraculous: We find ourselves at peace — but not at rest. For in Mozart we discover there is nothing static about peace, that peace is being perfectly whole, perfectly alive, at one with the universe. Or as Karl Barth put it, “Mozart’s music is an invitation to the listener to venture just a little out of the sense of his own subjectivity.”
Words, words, words. The glory of Mozart is that he frees us from the defining and therefore confining tyranny of words. Mozart, said Arthur Miller, is happiness before it has gotten defined…
–The British Library has published Mozart’s musical diary online with 75 audio excerpts. Very, very cool.
–The Classical Music Archives Mozart page