Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why Not to Hate Mozart

I know so many people who do hate Mozart - who feel, as someone once put it, "Mozarted to death."

This has to have happened because his music all adds up -- at least, most of it does -- to the right number of beats per bar, and is characterized by a lot of solid musical syntax that puts a lot of it within the playable range of children, amateurs, and professionals who can't be bothered with their own boredom, in other words, they can't take a hint.

Their boredom should be the clue that indicates the presence of something beyond the printed page.

Today I had a wonderful chat with a Mozart hater.  During his many years of music training and exposure no one ever told him that within Mozart's music are hidden, sometimes thinly, sometimes deeply disguised, references to a universe of musics: street music, Renaissance counterpoint, Baroque dances, even speech.  To make the puzzle even more intriguing, Mozart had a way of switching from one hidden reference to another with no pause, no preparation: catch it if you can.  (Errol Garner's allusion-rich jazz piano playing comes to mind.)  A player must be on the alert so as not to miss the crossovers and must take the chance that, though this will not be the usual packaged-in-the-factory variety of Mozart it just might prove compelling.

Worth a try, don't you think?