Monday, April 4, 2016

Nonesuch Mozart

So we (my husband and I) went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday last week for noon Mass; then we ate lunch at La Galette (he had soup and salad; I had the special: cabbage rolls and salad and I brought leftovers home). Then we checked out Spektrum Muzik and bought two more Nonesuch albums, My husband also found a used copy of the Chicago Transit Authority double album (sans posters) and we selected a Stan Kenton album too.

On the Mozart symphony album, Edward Tatnall Canby wrote the notes and he commented on how precarious the Mozart family life was. Wolfgang Amadeus seemed to thrive on a nomadic lifestyle, constantly moving, staying ahead of the creditors and landlords, borrowing money and promising to repay without any reasonable expectation of meeting the obligation. Edward Tatnall Canby asks, "Why didn't anyone help Mozart?" Josef Haydn tried to help Mozart, but Mozart, per Canby, did not avail himself of the opportunities Haydn or others offered. As Canby concludes, "Mozart was just plain maladjusted--and therefore misunderstood. If we seem blunt in our judgment, it is only because we are sympathetic. If he could not, would not help himself, we understand. The miracle is his music."

In all that disarray, how did Mozart create those three great symphonies in one summer (1788); Numbers 39, 40, and 41? Canby notes that Mozart's technique and style were so secure that all the confusion around him could not distract him. I think there's a moment in the Milos Forman adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus that depicts Mozart composing while his wife and father argue in the other room. Canby suggests that Mozart's creativity "was his release from painful reality. Here was the modern escape mechanism in a classic form!" Canby goes on to note the contrast between Mozart's "life of tragedy and the serene perfection of his music" which is "the supreme confidence of a master of style and technique." Finally, Canby concludes: "In Mozart's case--and this was his genius--the escape world of composition was so solid, so disciplined, as to far outshadow reality itself. So it is with most great minds. Maladjustment today, immortality tomorrow."

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