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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Why is Mozart such a big deal?


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Showing 51-75 of 381 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:10:49 AM PST
Roeselare says:
is the trill on the dominant ever executed in exactly the same way in the various concerti (or inappropriately as an automatic gesture)? ..Probably not, because he wanted continuity of expression.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:11:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 11:13:13 AM PST
Roeselare says:
the gallant style

edit

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:12:09 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Very well put.

This view of music history is something I hate -- the view which puts Beethoven at the centre, all things prior to Beethoven being embryonic Beethoven or sub, all things after a reaction.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:15:53 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is simply overplayed. Its hard for any work to survive that level of overplay.

I think you're teetering on trolling now.

"If you ignore a few dozen of his masterpieces and fixate only lesser works or works that have been played to death, then he's not a very interesting composer."

You could say that about anybody! Ha ha...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:16:40 AM PST
Roeselare says:
it's a consequence, back then, of the rapid development of musical elements through the decades.

It's over now.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:16:59 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:11 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:17:47 AM PST
Mandryka says:
But what about the French suites?

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 11:18:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 11:21:15 AM PST
Ataraxia,
are you here to have a serious discussion or have you already made up your mind and you want everyone to know your contentiously provocative opinion?

You say Mozart is fluff but the only example you seem to have given is "nachtmusic" and when called on that you start yapping about first century philosophers and the nature of 'higher art".

If you don't enjoy Mozart, don't listen to Mozart.
Is that too tough for you?

wasn't there another Mozart thread that started this way?
a little over a year ago.....

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:19:06 AM PST
Mahlerian says:
"Hmmm- well, do you remember the hit song "Dizzy" from 1969- a whole series of very jarring modulations that really do make you feel dizzy."

No, but I looked it up, and it simply goes up by step. That's also an extremely common device in pop music, and not a terribly artful one, either, especially since it sticks to a very simple progression in each key.

"Does just having a whole bunch of weird modulations necessarily qualify a song as higher art?"

No. Obviously not. But you were claiming that Eine Kleine Nachtmusik had the sophistication of a Pop song. It does not.

In Mozart, the shifts are there to reorient the listener from the dominant region where the exposition ends towards the tonic where the recapitulation begins. They are handled so smoothly that most people tend not to notice how temporarily jarring they are to our sense of tonal balance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:26:48 AM PST
Mandryka, agreed. And not just the French Suites. Someone wrote of the keyboard suites: The English Suites are more French than the French suites, and the Partitas are the most French of all.

Bach called the movements of the partitas "galanteries".

My sense is that the opening of the second keyboard Partita is about as French as it gets: And Variation 16---in effect the opening of Part Two of the Goldbergs---is more than a little French.

Bach was no stranger to the gallant style. IMHO, anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:35:15 AM PST
KenOC says:
"...the view which puts Beethoven at the centre, all things prior to Beethoven being embryonic Beethoven or sub, all things after a reaction."

Well...yeah. So is there something wrong with this view? ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:36:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 12:12:57 PM PST
HB says:
"Bach was no stranger to the gallant style. IMHO, anyway."

A.B.,

Great point. IMO, the four suites for orchestra may be the best example, especially Suite No. 2, a particular favorite of mine. BTW, there was a great recording of that suite on the LaserLight label that is now available for download for what is essentially pocket change.

100 Must-Have Bach Masterpieces

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:33:49 PM PST
Roeselare says:
I've never heard of the French or English Suites categorized in an early Classical category.

The scores don't look similar to gallant pieces either, but the suites do sound more 'gallant' than other works by JsB, so it's an interesting point you raise.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:37:32 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
A. B. Mendillo says:

"I've long suspected that many of us looked to Mozart for something that isn't there: Beethoven. Not finding Beethoven there, we assumed Mozart wasn't up to LvB's level, and we moved on."

I say:

I think that you make a profound observation in that we may tend to look at Mozart through the lens of Beethoven.

The way I look at it; Beethoven reached out to the stars, moons and planets; the master from Bonn was writing music of Olympian proportions. Indeed, there is a legend that just as Beethoven was lying on his deathbed, there was a clap of thunder; and just before he expired he rose up one last time and shook his fist at fate.

Obviously, we're not going to hear any of this is Mozart. To the contrary, when I hear Mozart, I don't think about powerful hills and mountains, or great storms, or stars or planets; but rather, I feel very well grounded to the earth. In Mozart there is a crispness and clarity; a sense of balance and mental health that is rarely felt elsewhere. Mozart represents an uncluttered sense of joy that appears to spring forth without effort.

In the thirty or so years that I've been listening to classical music; that I spent much of time avoiding Mozart. In this regard, I suspect that part of it may have to do with developmental psychology. As a younger man, I was far more emotionally insecure and somewhat edgy. At the time, I listened to great deal of Beethoven and Shostakovich (oh, very much, Shostakovich); because I think that, at the time, those composers reflected how I felt; as I was feeling quite conflicted.

Now, as a middle-aged person, I think that I can appreciate Mozart better because I've reached a stage of life where I'm searching more for clarity and simplicity, as opposed to struggling with stress and self-doubts. Along this line, it seems to me that while Beethoven calls us to be more than we are; and while Shostakovich says "life sucks"; Mozart just calls us to be happy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:41:01 PM PST
Ataraxia says:
"Very well put.

This view of music history is something I hate -- the view which puts Beethoven at the centre, all things prior to Beethoven being embryonic Beethoven or sub, all things after a reaction. "

Yes. I know what you mean. I have seen the same thing done with Shakespeare in literature. It does get to be a bit annoying.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:44:51 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
Dichterliebe says:

"The Romantics heard in Mozart a kindred spirit. His chromaticism and harmonic range, the drama of his concertos, and especially Don Giovanni (which inspired so much Romantic music and literature), the richness of his quartets and quintets -- this was all (somewhat mistakenly, in my view) heard as proto-Romanticism."

I say:

I read in Harold Schonberg's "The Lives of the Great Composers" that Tchaikovsky was wild about Mozart, who was Tchaik's favorite composer. Indeed, Tchaik called Mozart a "musical Christ".

Even so, I always failed to find connections between the music of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Mozart seems so joyful and uncluttered; while Tchaikovsky's sad Russian soul is so lush and weepy.

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 1:03:50 PM PST
Dichterliebe says:
Joe,

They are often worlds apart, those two. Have you heard Tchaikovsky's 'Mozartiana'? It's a musical love letter and I rather like it. They were both gifted melodists and expert craftsmen and both could produce excellent results in short order. Mozart is by far my favorite of the two but I love many pieces by Tchaikovsky. Mozart's music is almost always welcome to my ears but I have to be in the mood for Tchaikovsky and that's not often, but when I am he really satisfies me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 1:16:37 PM PST
Roeselare says:
"I think that you make a profound observation in that we may tend to look at Mozart through the lens of Beethoven."

Imagine Mozart's audience's reaction to the dissonances and intensities that Beethoven promoted. During LvB's time they were scandalous. We don't hear a negative pall today..

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 2:07:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 2:15:59 PM PST
Barb, I'm not sure that during LvB's time, his dissonances and intensities were scandalous.

George Marek, in his bio of Beethoven, [.Beethoven: Biography of a Genius] gives a rather different view:

"I find it necessary to redress the balance and to try to eradicate the impression promulgated by the romantic school of biography, tht Beethoven's music, for the most part met with an uncomprehending reception, and that he had to struggle against the stubborn animosity of the pundits. Beethoven himself is guilty of spreading this impression. He railed against his critics, often unjustly. One begins to wonder if he read his reviews. The truth is that the critics were deeply impressed by Beethoven's genius. The truth is that he found much and quick recognition among them in spite of the newness of the music, in spite of what must have sometimes sounded to them like wilfull excentricity...".

During his lifetime, Beethoven's music was wildly popular among London concertgoers---possibly more so than in Vienna itself. As early as 1802, certainly no later than 1808, Beethoven had become the most famous musician and composer in the world. Now it's true that not everybody accepted his works instantly. Prince Galitzin, when he commissioned three quartets from Beethoven in 1825, was expecting something along the lines of the Op 18 quartets---certainly not the Op 127, 130, and 132! But in general his music found ready acceptance and more than a little enthusiasm.

[Not with Abbe Stadler, though. The Abbe found all music after Mozart's, including Beethoven's, unsupportable. Stadler and Beethoven were friends. They patched up their differences by discussing Mozart.]

So: It's pretty clear that his music was popular among the musically literate as well as among the concertgoing audiences of his lifetime. The Seventh Symphony was so popular that at performances of his other symphonies sometimes the Allegretto of the Seventh was substituted for one of the movements of the symphony being played. (Performing standards were doubtless more flexible than ours are.) And his sheet music sold and sold. We perhaps need to remind ourselves that a significant measure of a composer's success was the amount of sheet music sold---including the endless arrangements and simplifications publishers made to enhance sales among amateur pianists and instrumentalists. In that cohort of customers, Beethoven's music sold.

I'd say, then, that Mozart's audiences---he died in 1791, and the Eroica was first performed in public on April 7, 1805, at the Theatre-an-der-Wien, so let's say about 15 years---had learned in the intervening time to accept a relatively new sound.

"Everybody's talkin' 'bout a new way of walkin'; do you wanna lose your mind?"

Marek again, discussing the Eroica: "The popularity and understanding of the new work grew at a sure pace. It was published (orchestral parts) in Vienna in 1806..."

PS: The Theatre-an-der-Wien is still there, but I think the theatre section has been more or less rebuilt. The apartment in the rear looks to be original, though. Beethoven lived there while composing Fidelio.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 2:16:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 2:16:41 PM PST
KenOC says:
Thanks Angelo. BTW am I alone in hearing a more drastic use of dissonance in the slow movement of Mozart's 40th Symphony than in almost any of LvB's works?

A reminder that many of Beethoven's contemporary reviews are here, totally backing up what Angelo said:

https://sites.google.com/site/kenocstuff/

Bear in mind that almost all the piano and chamber music reviews were written from the sheet music and the critic playing it himself...CDs seem to have been rare in those days!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 2:32:50 PM PST
Ataraxia says:
"If you don't enjoy Mozart, don't listen to Mozart.
Is that too tough for you?"

Sheesh, I meant no offense to you, nor to herr Mozart. I love listening to Mozart, and we are all just having a little fun here having a little philosophical discussion about the nature of music, art, and aesthetics. That necessarily entails playing a little bit of the devil's advocate once in a while. Relax. It's all good.

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 2:50:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 2:54:43 PM PST
WH says:
I would suggest focusing not on "Eine Kleine", but on the late symphonies and on the Haydn quartets as a way to focus on the artistic rigors and seriousness of Mozart's project. What just arrived in my mail today was Charles Mackerras / Scottish Chamber Mozart Symphonies 38 Through 41 (Linn, 2008). And that is what I've been listening to as I've read this discussion. Let me throw in a quotation from the ArkivMusic entry on Mozart's late symphonies, especially #40:

"Mozart composed his final three symphonies during the summer of 1788 .... Evidence also supports the idea (advanced by Neal Zaslaw) that Mozart took the three symphonies on the tour he made to Germany the following year, which would further undermine the long-held notion that the composer never heard three of the greatest works in the symphonic literature performed.
One aspect of the symphonies upon which commentators reach universal agreement is their extraordinary diversity of character; each has unique qualities which together utterly explode the myth that the extreme agitation and pathos of the G minor Symphony reflected the abject circumstances in which Mozart found himself at this period. The begging letters addressed to Puchberg during these months are indeed pitiful documents that might be cited as evidence of Mozart's state of mind at the time he was composing the G minor symphony. But they will hardly do for the mellow warmth, strength and humor of E flat symphony or the elevated grandeur of the "Jupiter" Symphony. Neither should it be forgotten that the tragic qualities so often associated with the symphony today have not always been apparent to all. To Robert Schumann the symphony was a work of "Grecian lightness and grace," while for a later writer, Alfred Einstein, there are passages that "plunge to the abyss of the soul."
Such ambiguity is perhaps apt for one of the greatest works of a composer whose music so frequently defies adequate description. The symphony is cast in the usual four movements; the opening Molto allegro immediately announces something unusual by starting not with characteristic loud "call to attention," but with quietly spoken agitation. The uneasy passion of the main theme leads to conclusions that seem to protest rather than find any consolation. The movement's dominant feeling is urgency: upbeat after upbeat after upbeat occurs. Amid great instability and a questioning aura, we experience a peek into Don Giovanni's abyss. In the finale, the horns intrude with wild swatches of color. There is even an eerie twelve-note insertion after the double bar in the Allegro assai section."--Brian Robbins, ArkivMusic.

I read recently that Mozart's Symphony #40 is one of only 2 he wrote in a minor key. Mozart's preference for major keys--and thus the bright, optimist sound of so much of his music--sound not be mistaken for lightness in any artistic sense. He did write music of remarkable joy. "Joy" is still serious emotion.

I'll maybe post something later on the quartets.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 2:55:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 3:02:23 PM PST
Ataraxia says:
"You should take some time out to read up on Kant and Burke on the sublime v. the beautiful rather than continually referencing Longinus"

You may be right. I am a little familiar with Kant's notions of the sublime- not as much with Burke, I will need to look that up.

I don't know if you are familiar with Francois Lyotard, the French Postmodernist, who also has some interesting thoughts on the issue of the Sublime and how exactly to define it. But he seemed to relate it more to a defense of modern art, than to a broader general notion.

You say "I don't know of any serious critic who thinks art must be "sublime" to avoid being fluff.", and I agree. But I think if you put a bunch of music critics in a room, they couldn't come up with a good consensus on what "sublime" exactly is anyway. How many great composers where ripped to shreds by these music critics at the premiere of works that we now consider to be "sublime"?

Anyway, I think Mozart is an interesting case study, because so much of it is so artistic and beautiful, and yet so unpresumptuous and superficial. Like Seinfeld, it's really about "nothing", and yet done in such a captivating way. So does that make it sublime, or not?

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 3:11:13 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 3:16:06 PM PST
<<<and we are all just having a little fun here having a little philosophical discussion about the nature of music, art, and aesthetics>>>
so was the intial topic a 'ruse' on your part?
something provocative, to get people' attention?

<<<<<That necessarily entails playing a little bit of the devil's advocate once in a while. Relax. It's all good. >>>
'devil's advocate' or not,
I have trouble taking anybody seriously who makes such emphatic statements and then seems hesitant to go into the specifics for which this conclusion was drawn.

Curve fitting from the single data point, 'a little night music'(by its very title connotes 'trifle' ), seems exceedingly unfair to Mozart.
and unless this initial statement is fleshed out, the rest seems like a very academic exercise in uselessness.
Lots of people are going in many directions since you have yet to give substance to the actual point of this thread.

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 3:16:14 PM PST
Dmitri says:
I don't understand or appreciate the first 24 or so of symphonies by Mozart, but that 25th wow pow! The earliest work of Mozart that I really like is his Divertimento K.136. Listening to K.136 I visualize a train ride through the Alps.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
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Initial post:  Jan 9, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 6, 2013

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