Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Mozart!

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest musicians who ever lived, Herr Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A year ago today I was preparing to depart for Salzburg, his birthplace, to visit the cathedral where he once performed, the house where he was born, and to meander the streets which he himself had walked. It so happens that we are also performing some of his music this semester, as the theme of our spring concert is sacred music of the Viennese Classical period. Below is one of my absolute favorite Mozart pieces of all time, "Laudate Dominum," which I will probably be accompanying on the organ at the concert. If I was a voice major and a soprano, it would be a dream come true to sing the solo in this magnificent piece.

And then, of course, one of the greatest as well as most popular pieces of music that Mozart ever wrote, his "Ave Verum Corpus," which apparently he wrote for a small parish while vacationing with his wife during the last year of his life. I had the opportunity of being able to sing this motet at Mass at the Mariathron Chapel at the Kartause, Gaming with a small group of people while traveling in Europe last semester.  This piece still brings tears to my eyes listening to it. Please, take a moment out of your day for a little Mozart in honor of his birthday! Below are some neat little quotes I've included from the Salzburg composer (fun fact: Mozart was not technically an Austrian as Salzburg was not part of Austria when he was born -- rather, in the words of the Mozarteum organ professor Heribet Metzger, he was a "Salzburgian"! I like how even Mozart saw the organ as the king of musical instruments -- Pope Benedict XVI thinks so, too! His appreciation for Bach 
and for the need for practice -- yes, even the child prodigy -- are also much appreciated!
The Mozart quotes are courtesy of Mozart's Music Blog.

Mozart recalls a conversation with a friend to his father in a letter from Augsburg (his father's birthplace), October 17, 1777 at the age of 21.
"When I told Herr Stein that I would like to play on his organ and that I was passionately fond of the instrument, he marvelled greatly and said, "What, a man like you, so great a clavier player, want to play on an instrument which has no douceur, no expression, neither piano nor forte, but goes on always the same?" "But all that signifies nothing; to me the organ is nevertheless the king of instruments."

One Wolfgang's favorite composers was Johann Sebastian Bach. While in Leipsic in the year 1789, at the age of 33, he heard a performance of Bach's "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied," of which he exclaimed,
"Here, at last, is something from which one can learn!"

This letter shows that even Mozart had to practice! He writes here to his father from Vienna on April 28, 1784, at the age of 28. The man Herr Richter is a pianist on a concert tour.Herr Richter plays much and well so far as execution is concerned, but--as you will hear--crudely, laboriously and without taste or feeling; he is one of the best fellows in the world, and without a particle of vanity. Whenever I played for him he looked immovably at my fingers, and one day he said, "My gosh! How I am obliged to torment myself and sweat, and yet without obtaining applause; and for you, my friend, it is mere play!" "Yes," said I, "I had to labor once in order not to show labor now."

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