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Thursday Jan 27, 2011

Mozart Redux

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Mozart was born today on Jan. 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria.

An excerpt from the chapter ‘Mozart or Muzak’ from my book, An Artist Empowered:

While Mozart certainly composed with his patrons in mind, he also took risks. Not all of his works and ‘modern’ themes where immediately embraced as the enduring wonders they have become.

Ultimately, Mozart was more interested in pleasing himself. Salieri was the court portrait painter while Mozart was the abstract expressionist of notes. Listen, for example, to Wolfgang’s string quartet (1785) in c major, also called the Dissonant Quartet, and hear why this piece of chamber music lives on into the 21st century. This was one of his most sublime works, featuring two violins, one viola, and one cello. The first movement begins—adagio, very slow.

To compose a musical piece comprised of mingling discordant notes took someone willing to take brilliant risks. First, Mozart intoxicates the ether with a phrase of the strings. Suddenly, the sound drops steeply, dangerously, a whole step, before the phrase repeats, building again from the cello up through the first violin. Then, while the cello continues its pulsations, the viola plays a mournful, rising, chromatic line, luring the violins and cello into imitative responses.

Now, listen to a work by Salieri and you will hear not unpleasant harmony from a conservative, safe approach of that era.