Tag Archives: Mozart

Creative Juice #89

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Creative Juice #89

Just in time for weekend reading:

Video of the Week #112: Mozart–Divine Genius or Offensive Pig

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Video of the Week #112: Mozart–Divine Genius or Offensive Pig

At 22 minutes, this video is much longer than the usual Video of the Week on ARHtistic License, but it reviews the 1984 Oscar-winning movie, Amadeus, adeptly separating fact from fiction. For cinema buffs and classical music lovers alike.

M is for Mozart

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M is for Mozart

Leopold Mozart, professional musician, teacher, and composer in 18th century Salzburg, Austria, had seven children, only two of whom survived infancy. He began teaching the older, a girl called Nannerl, on clavier when she was seven, with little Wolfgang (January 27, 1756—December 5, 1791), aged three, watching. Soon the little boy was picking out tunes on the keyboard, and his father played little musical games with him, encouraging him to imitate what he played.

By the time he was five, Wolfgang was composing his own pieces, written down by Leopold.

When he was six and Nannerl was ten, the family began touring Europe, with the children playing at royal courts in Munich, Vienna, Prague, Mannheim, Paris, London, and Zurich. The children became well-known throughout Europe.Mozart-1783-lange

Mozart’s first major position was as a court musician in Salzburg from 1773-1776. Later, he was court composer for the wealthy Archbishop Colloredo, a job he did not relish and was eventually dismissed from. From then on, he freelanced as a composer and a performer, supporting himself with commissions from patrons.

On August 4, 1782, he married Constanze Weber. They lived an extravagant lifestyle which they could not really afford.

369px-Costanze_Mozart_by_Lange_1782

Constanze

Well versed in the classical style of Josef Haydn, he took it to its zenith with surprising harmonies and cadences. In all, he wrote over 600 compositions, including 41symphonies (the first written when he was eight), 22 operas, 15 Masses, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 17 piano sonatas, and 26 string quartets.

Some of his most beloved works:

Eine kleine Nachtmusik:

Symphony #25 (you may have to manually restart the clip at the beginning; sorry, some of the embed codes are wonky):

Symphony #40 (you may have to manually restart the clip at the beginning):

From The Magic Flute, The Queen of the Night’s aria:

Mozart's DeathbedIn September of 1791, Mozart fell ill. Sensing his imminent demise, he drove himself to finish some projects in order to provide support for his wife and their two sons. His symptoms of pain, weakness, and vomiting grew worse. His continued his final work, a Requiem paid for by a wealthy patron, on his deathbed, dictating portions to his student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who subsequently completed it. Mozart was only thirty-five years old when he died.

 

Mozart’s life was fictionalized in the 1982 movie of the play Amadeus. It dwelt on a supposed rivalry between Mozart and his popular contemporary, Antonio Salieri. In the movie, Mozart dictated a portion of his Requiem to Salieri:

Monday Morning Wisdom #81

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Monday Morning Wisdom #81

When I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.–Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

MMW

Creative Juice #5

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Creative Juice #5

Let’s celebrate Friday with a bunch of articles to jump-start your creative week-end:

Knowing the Score

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Knowing the Score

Many of us take reading for granted.

But if you’ve ever watched a child discover the connection between words written on a page and names and stories and ideas, you’ve seen the sparking of magic, the bestowal of power.

I read the story long ago (sorry, I can’t find the source; if you recognize it, please credit it in the comments below) of missionaries in a culture that had no written language. The chief was very unimpressed with the Bible; he had no concept of book.

To illustrate how a book conveys a message, a missionary asked the chief to tell him what was going on in his life. The chief described how his “woman” had recently become ill and died. The missionary wrote down the chief’s words, then took the chief to see his (the missionary’s) partner. The partner read the missionary’s note, and said to the chief, “I’m so sorry your woman died.” The startled chief began to comprehend the power of the written word.

At a pre-concert chat I attended recently at the Phoenix Symphony, pianist Shai Wosner shared how his parents insisted on sending him to piano lessons at age five (Wosner started playing piano on his own when he was three) because they wanted him to learn how to read music notation. He really didn’t appreciate the value of that skill until, a few years later, they gave him the orchestral score of Mozart’s Requiem. There, laid out in front of him, was a visual representation of a complex work of genius. He could see the entrances of the instruments and the voices; the patterns of melody, harmony, rhythms, and dynamics; the techniques the composer utilized to develop his themes. The power of that moment affected him deeply, and I experienced it vicariously through his relating it.

Mozart Requiem 3

Here is what the music above (an excerpt from a section of the Mozart Requiem) sounds like (up to the 0:49 mark):

Can you follow along? Do you have the power to connect the symbols to the sounds?

Friends, it is of vital importance that our children tap into that power. They partake of it when they learn to read, when they learn another language, when they grasp mathematic principles, when they discover the laws of physics by building a structure, when they create art, when they look through a magnifying glass.

Music literacy is as important as English literacy. Acquiring the skill of reading music notation exercises the brain in a way that makes the decoding of other symbols easier. Music literacy is not a frill; it’s a  strategic component of a comprehensive educationOur kids deserve a rich, experiential education. Anything less limits them.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Back to beautiful music. Here is an example of the artistry of Shai Wosner:

Can you read music? Can you speak more than one language? Can you write computer code? Do you agree that there are many kinds of literacy? Can you think of any reason that would justify eliminating music literacy instruction from public education? Share your thoughts in the comments below.