Maynard Solomans's Mozart biography is excellent. I won't insult your intelligence by reading it to you,but I will summarize something from it that goes to your point. Mozart had to run away from a father who wanted to use him. When Mozart lived at home,in Saltzburg,he wrote stuff by the numbers. When he finally ran away to Vienna,he listened to his own(and his wife's) council. In Vienna,he became friends with Franz Joseph Haydn,an older person. The line of seperation between Mozart's young style and his mature style was the "Hayden Quartets" a set of six string quartets he dedicated to Haydn. Up untill then,Mozart would copy out stuff from his head and publish it. The Haydn Quartets were the first things he worked hard on. In a letter home,he compared their composition process to child birth. ps.Soloman's Beethoven biography is excellent as well.
Pragmatist is right, Mozart lived a very interesting albeit short life. His influences changed through the years, he traveled through a lot of Europe and his sound changed with the different region he was in- or I should say was influenced by what he heard in different areas. And after his mother died thing got different yet again. There is an innocence that is very apperent in his early work, and so much more content in his later works- though I enjoy both. The music world really would be different had he lived longer, his contributions would be even more vast and he possibly could have cataloged a lot of his work(no one knows for sure how much music he wrote, a lot was lost). Mozart was/is a very interesting composer, his father had a lot to do with him becoming a legend and at the same time didn't allow him to write as he wanted to. Then the ultimate would be having the ability to here the master himself perform some of his work, it is rumored that he was an astounding pianist and violinist and couldn't play enough! We should thank our lucky stars for the recordings we have of Rachmininoff(a window in time vol 1 & 2 come to mind) and many others who we heard there interpretation of the music, as they intendid..... But that's another thread all together.
Listen to a lot more classical music, beginning with Bach (arguably the progenitor of the Classical period)through Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn to Schumann and Brahms (beginning the Romantic era}. Please pay lots of attention to lesser, and lesser known, composers of this time as well. Then, when you can clearly see what this towering master contributed to Western musical progression, how melody and emotional expression, humor and pathos, flowed effortlessly through his music unlike anything that came before--or since--you may repent the words "elevator music." The clarinet concerto you dismiss so lightly was Mozart's last completed work, a composition of wonderful energy and subtlety, a beam of light coming at a very dark time in his life. Listen to his Piano Concerto #9, written when he was a boy, for an aching expression of sadness that just doesn't seem possible from one so immature. Why does the "Magic Flute," his burlesque show, contain some of the most sublime and haunting music we enjoy today? The point I'm trying to make here is that Mozart's creative genius was obviously not bounded by his age, circumstance or conscious efforts to become "serious." He simply had the tap on all the time. Listen--when you hear him, you will know him.
Enjoyed reading the responses by pragmatist, tireguy, and dlshifi. learned a bunch. thanks for the posts. commentaries like these are why i keep coming back to the 'gon.
I read, once, a long while back; upon discovering some of Mozart's original music there was one particular piece (and not a short one) that was written from beginning to end without one correction or erasure. Was he connected to something bigger than himself? Could that have been a stream of creativity from God? Amaedeus, here we go... Pretty wild stuff. Didn't Mozart compose must of his music in major keys? For a guy who had a pretty miserable existance, that's quite provocative. I can't think of anything, off hand, written in a minor key. Hey, but what do I know. This thread has inspired me to get back to my main man: Mozart. It's been a very long while. Jazz has taken me away from my favorite. peace, warren
Thanks for the responses, which are very interesting. I'm the first to proclaim my relative lack of knowledge. At first I was sure that I would find that the pieces I don't like (Clarinet concerto, horn concerto) would have been written earlier in his life, and the more solemn pieces later in his life, when, by all accounts, he was a tortured soul. It was very surprising when I discovered that the clarinet concerto was written towards the end of his life, at around the same time as the requiem mass (a piece I love). Hence the post .. it is very curious to me that he could seemingly flit back and forth between music with huge depth of feeling and music of equal musical integrity but with a lighter touch. I wonder if there is any indication of bipolar disorder here ... after all there is a fine line between genius and madness.
Dlshifi ... I'm not dismissing anything lightly, and perhaps my wording was provocative, but only for purposes of generating interesting discussion : we all like different music for different reasons, and I just don't like the clarinet concerto, and believe me, as a clarinetist I have heard it a gazillion times. I am also well aware that Mozart moved music from the Bach era ,when the music seemed more about displaying the technical brilliance of the performer, to the Beethoven and Mendelssohn era, which is the era of music that I am most drawn to. I'm so glad he did, because there's not much music from Bach or earlier that does anything for me, but Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and the romantics are absolutely sublime (IMHO).
Thanks again for responses. It's really nice to have some discussion on music rather than equipment from time to time.
Sean: This has nothing to do with Mozart; it has to do with your tastes in music, to which you are fully entitled, of course. For myself, I prefer Beethoven the classicist to Beethoven the romantic, but I wouldn't disparage the latter. (Mendelssohn, on the other hand...)
While most of Mozart's Compositions are in major keys,allow me to point out these three in minor keys for your listening pleasure:
Piano Concerto #20
Piano Concerto #24
If I implied that the younger Mozart was less creative than the more mature Mozart,please forgive my rhetorical mistakes.
Allow me to say that even as good as the younger Mozart was,the more mature Mozart benefited from the cumulative effects of practicing composition and that his move from Saltzburg to Vienna was a declaration of independence,even if its effect on his composition was only discursive.
Bomarc ... yes it is entirely about my taste in music, but I don't think that's my point. My point is that Mozart, unlike other composers with who I am familiar, seems to me to have two very contrasting styles of music. All composers produce a spectrum of material, but Mozart's is a much wider spectrum than most.
Sean, listen to Mozart's operas, performed with finesse and talent, they are a great laugh and enjoyment. Genius! As for the wonderful piano concerti, give the phenomenol #25 a listen. Quite unusal power that builds up and explodes in the final movement. As for performances, check our Moravec/Marriner on 24+25, and the Moravec/Vlach/Czech/Supraphon/#'s23+24+25!!! I've had no luck on ordering this one from Tower, I'm trying a second time. Moravec is the best recording of Mozart I've heard. Mozart's piano concerti have never been championed by any conductor/pianist yet, except the Moravec I've heard. Tireguy mentions Mozart's keyboard ability, I'm sure Wolfgang played with a great range of emotions, humor and tenderness.
Maybe, Sean, or maybe your like/dislike boundary just happens to lie smack in the middle of his oeuvre!
Like Pragmatist, I thought of the major/minor distinction. It may be that Mozart's style, done in a major key, sounds very light to you (an admitted Romantic fan), while the same style done in a minor key sounds deeper and darker and more like what you like about 19th century music. Just a thought.
Also, remember that all composers--at least those who are trying to make a living at it--have to please an audience. That tends to be more true of younger artists, and Mozart was always a young artist. Perhaps you don't like him when he's playing most directly and obviously to his public.
Thanks everyone, again, for the great posts. With a hyperactive 20 month old at home I don't get too much time for reading or listening, but I'll bookmark this thread and try to get around to it later.
Mozart nearly singlehandedly bridged the gap between classical and romantic periods
whole ideas of improv, mood etc got their genius inspirations from Mozart's creative mind
Mozart and Beethoven were like the Beatles and Dylan to the 50's musical climate.