Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

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IcedNote
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Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:20 pm

http://www.sequenza21.com/rosner.html
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
The Bicycle Pump

In the 36 years that I have taught music survey, or appreciation sections to liberal arts students I have always said: “All I want from you is that you allow music to address any and all aspects of the human condition”. These students’ prior acquaintance with classical music generally begins and ends in the single digits of age when they watched cartoons; many of them now require heavy rock accompaniments and charismatic, lean slightly scary artists to take music seriously. Or they may tolerate tragedy in a movie; suspense and tension on TV. A few others, however “get it” and I do the best I can with them.

But in the classical era of music history, even the composers fail to meet my condition. Inheriting an already sparse choice of two principal scales, 95% of the time they choose the brighter and lighter major; minor is too serious for them. The music mainly is heard by the aristocratic few, helping them forget what they are doing to the impoverished and overworked many. It is no coincidence that the brief life of Mozart spans the years of both the American and French revolutions. Someday we may all teach that the principal gift of the classical period is the codification of sonata form, symphonies and so forth, making a transition between the dynamic (and contrapuntally driven) Baroque period, and the expressive (and structurally driven) Romantic period.

Do I dislike them all - Boccherini, Gluck, Haydn, early Beethoven? Yes, I do, but Mozart deserves a special place. It is not true that he is the worst of all composers; his prodigious technical skills developed by age six. Sometimes it is not so great to be a prodigy,- I often feel his emotional and dramatic palette is set at the same age. Rather he is the most overrated composer of them all. The difference between the (mediocre) quality of his music and the (celestial) reverance he is accorded is a gulf simply beyond belief.

There are those who have told me: “Wait till your 40s, when you’ve lost people close to you, suffered disappointments in life, fully matured. Then you’ll see the melancholy in almost every phrase.” I am 60, and I’m still waiting. And they have told me: “Just listen to those fantastic minor-key fugues, Laudate Pueri from the K. 339 Vespers, Kyrie from the C Minor Mass.” Those would be very impressive examples if I hadn’t also heard the counterpoint of one J. S. Bach, of whose works, Mozart’s constitute A-minus student imitations. (The MAJOR-key multi-subject fugue in the finale of the Jupiter symphony DOES impress, however.)

And they told me: “Listen to the pieces, usually also in minor, where you can hear a contained smoldering prefiguring the romantic era”. Those excerpts do indeed exist, but they actually are the most convincing passages of the fact that the emperor has no clothes, as Mozart always follows them with silly kid-stuff. It is like topping off a fresh-herb flavored veal scallopine with Ready Whip. For reasons of space, I will refer only to examples in D Minor.

The quartet in that key has a remarkable minuet with dark counterpoint and some unexpected harmonic connections. But the “B” section is major-tonality broken-chord fluff - barely even a recognizable theme but just what would be accompaniment, much less anything of substance. In the outer movements of the 20th Piano Concerto we do hear music that anticipates a composer like Schumann much of the way. But at the end Mozart cheers us up (in my opinion lets us down) by asking the first trumpeter of the orchestra to play, innumerable times, a simple figure delineating a D Major chord, six fast As, then one each F# and D. A friend of mine once played that part in a concert. After the concert, he and I went for pizza and every time he went for a swig of beer, I made him laugh by humming “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BUM-BUM”. The poor guy might have gotten down three good sips.

But the worst is the Requiem. Commanding opening - one of the better neo-Bach fugues, ending powerfully with a surprising open fifth, and a stormy Dies Irae (which I rather find a tempest in a teapot, but that’s not the point). Now comes perhaps the worst few minutes of music ever written. The aria “Tuba Mirum” presents (loudly, but that doesn’t help) the solo voice in a melody that would be better a lullaby. The obbligato part is a solo trombone; surely Mozart did not think that just the choice of instrument was enough for the fearful, day-of-judgment words. But indeed he writes dominant 7th arpeggios, graceful and gentle and the poor trombonist sounds less like the trumpet of doom or wrath, and more like a pump refilling the tires of a bicycle with air.

See if you don’t agree. When you’ve been to your umpteenth Mozart concert this year, and already are scratching your head about the mystique, take out your CD of the Requiem, any performance will do (We know you own one), and with an open mind, ear, and heart, ignoring all standard wisdom and listening a-fresh, play the bicycle pump - oops, I mean the Tuba Mirum. See if you don’t laugh, out loud. See if you don’t say: “Goodness, is this the icon we have worshipped for one quarter of a millennium?”

I bet that is exactly how you will react; I’ll stake my own reputation
as a composer on it.
Arnold Rosner (b. 1945) is a prolific American composer whose music has been performed in the United States and Israel. His works exceed 100 in number and steer clear, generally, of both the post-serial avant-garde movement of the 1960’s and the minimalist movement which followed it. His treatment of harmony and counterpoint, along with the occasional recourse to an ethnic, Middle Eastern flavor, places his music in the esthetic milieu of Paul Hindemith, Ernest Bloch, and Alan Hovhaness.

Rosner is currently on the faculty of Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, where he teaches both standard and ethnic music. Having composed since the age of nine, he received advanced degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo while studying with Leo Smit, Allen Sapp, Henri Pousseur and Lejaren Hiller, from all of whom, in his own words, “I learned practically nothing.”
I was just made aware of this editorial. Since it's so old I did a search on here but found no mention of it.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:47 pm

I've never heard of Arnold Rosner, and I probably never will. 'Nuff said.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:24 pm

Don't shoot the messenger. Here is the man's website:

http://phidler.com/rosner/

I happen to agree with much of what Rosner says about Mozart, to be truthful. I think Mozart is extremely over-rated, and I've never understood this. (Not sure that being a prodigy is 'easy', though!). 28 years ago, when I was 24, I used to listen a lot to Mozart and he was deified, for me, in "Amadeus" - which I thought an admirable (and, in many ways, outstanding) film, albeit somewhat hagiographic.

Just recently I've been listening to Mozart's piano concertos for an international piano competition and have been bored rigid. I absolutely had to turn them off, and I've evolved to this point over the decades of 'saturation bombing' of the recorded repertoire and Mozart acolytes banging on and on and on. Yes, I enjoy the late symphonies - say from 35. These are a treat and point the way to later Haydn and Beethoven. I find them thoroughly engaging and really quite complex. Also, some of the operas are wonderful, too. This is my go-to opera composer AFTER Handel, Rameau, Monteverdi and Richard Strauss!!

It's the 'twee-ness', the porcelain image of Mozart and the preciousness of it all which has worn me down. At my age it HAS to be late Beethoven and, I suspect, I was always on this musical trajectory. Of course, that isn't all - Bach is in equal first place with Beethoven, IMO. Those transcendental and metaphysical experiences of Bach are ineffable. No other composer, except late Beethoven, comes within a mile of it. As Andras Schiff says, "Bach is the Old Testament in music". So, three cheers for those who love Mozart - one, two, three. There are some of us less than ecstatic!
Last edited by Tarantella on Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:26 pm

This is the dumbest thing I've read in a long time. What an idiot!
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:31 pm

Why is it 'dumb' and why are WE 'idiots' - because I agree with much of what Rosner says too. Surely taste is highly subjective - and I don't choose to call Mozart acolytes and fans 'idiots'!! They're music-lovers who have a different take on the musical experience from me, aided and abetted by a hero-worshipping 'classical music industry' and academe. People on these boards who have played Mozart attest to his 'perfection', and I don't doubt their sincerity. For me, there has to be more than 'perfection' and I don't want to insult anybody.

Obviously this is a highly-contestable position - heresy, if you like - hence the vitriol. I think there's plenty of room to have the discussion. I must qualify my position - I DO NOT think Mozart's music is mediocre! It just doesn't turn me on, is all.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Werner » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:51 pm

I won't speed time reading Rosner's essay - nor Tarantella's, with all due respect to the latter.

I'm of the generation that's come to live with Mozart, and have a son who is a capable interpreter of Mozart - and late Beethoven, for that matter, too.

Not knowing Tarranella's qualifications, I'll refrain from any comment. As to Rosner, let's agree that he's had more time to learn his trade than Mozart. Then let's see if, after the expiration of a comparable amount of time, the durability of Rosner's work will stand comparison with Mozart's - if there are enough of us left to be able to make a judgment. In the meanwhile, my vote is for Mozart.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:24 pm

Since I posted the article, I'll state my opinion: Most Mozart bores me silly. I like pieces here and there (e.g. D Minor Concerto, G Minor Quintet, C Major Quartet), but the other stuff...no thank you, mam. I need some edge in my music, and I simply don't hear it in Mozart.

*high fives Tarantella* ;)

-G
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:35 pm

I only called Rosner an idiot. not you, Tarantella. (I have hopes you may yet change your mind.) Greater minds than ours, and certainly Rosner's, understand the depth in Mozart, if he doesn't. I cannot take seriously someone with his opinions as a serious musician.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:04 pm

Well, this IS a divisive issue. Thanks for the clarification, Donald. I'm unsure why I need to be "convinced", being a serious music listener and collector since age 18 and I have a Musicology major, have read a great deal and widely and learned to play the piano (somewhat tragically, since my playing "sux"!). But from the last experience I got to 'analyse' some of the Mozart piano sonatas and I do enjoy some of these, and the Henle Urtext scores sit proudly on my bookshelf. I came to realize they were inventive and wonderful, and I wouldn't be without the scores - then along came Beethoven. What could I do? I started with Beethoven at age 18 and I've gone full circle. He's the 'desert island' composer for me, despite periods in my 30's when it was Mozart, Mozart, Mozart. Of course, I do understand there are a great many fine musicians who adore Mozart - but this is a 'puzzlement' for me. These are my honest opinions, and I hope to offend nobody! And I consider myself a person who is very musically literate. I'm not sure I'd put my faith in "greater minds than ours" either, to be very frank. Look what 'greater minds' did when they developed the atomic bomb!

Trying to put it into more concrete terms: last year I lived in Vienna and Mozart was ubiquitous (though strangely absent from the serious concert halls!), Mozart costumes, chocolates and objects d'art. Not one single mention of Beethoven - except in the Musikverein. From that I understood that Mozart was much the more accessible composer, and to be exploited. This was all part of the 'separation' phase for me, I'm sorry to say. And I think IcedNote is onto something about "edge" - I feel this is missing from Mozart, for me, and I need it; oh, how I need it!!

And, Werner, not reading my comments about Mozart because you disagree with these....how can you disagree with something you haven't read?

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Werner » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:12 am

Paying a liitte more attention to you, Tarantella (is IS late at night) do I see some grace notes in sme of your Mozart comment?

And can we agree that none of us can know "it all,'' and some of your comments about Mozart sonatas point the way to a more generous snd less presumptive view of our knowledge.

I can only pity Garrett if Mozartr "bores him silly." He'll never know what he's missing. In the meanwhile there are we many common folk, as well as masters like Myra Hess. Artur Schnabel, Horszowski, and so many masters who have made theyr way into these masterworks. By what standard can Garrett compare himself to these?

If Donald's commets reflect an excess of annoyance at such arrogance there are many of us deeeply immersed i the literature feither professionally or through a lifetime of living wwith thse reasurable legacies of the masters. And so it strikes me that this manner of discussion is wht's silly and boring.

Whatever our varying views on Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven - or Stockhausen, If I eve nlearn more to dicscuss him intelligently, let's not descend to the level of the plain denunciation of what we haven't absorbed.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:51 am

"Denunciation"? I spoke very personally when I provided my opinion. I re-iterate: Mozart is, for me, over-rated and it's especially galling that Haydn is so UNDER-rated. Why this is so is complex but also unfathomable. In my 30's I couldn't get enough of Mozart, but I've simply moved on - as I have in my appreciation and taste of films, books and art. There just wasn't enough to sustain me in Mozart, apart from the selected works I've already mentioned. As I grow older I find 'serenity' in Beethoven and Bach and drama and edge in the former!! And I've moved onto more contemporary repertoire also. I'm not doing it deliberately, to hurt you, but I feel its a natural progression and musically evolutionary movement for me.

There seems to be a 'hegemonic' view of Mozart and no opposing viewpoint will be tolerated. Lest we are severely sanctioned, those of us who do not see this music as the be-all and end-all are often publicly hold our tongues. I see that my historical tendency to do that has been well and truly justified. My final word on the matter is this: there is a limit to what a 35 year old can tell me at my age (circa 60) about life, musically or otherwise.
Last edited by Tarantella on Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by bigshot » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:02 am

*NOT* appreciating something isn't a virtue, although some people seem to think it is. It really doesn't pay to expend energy on things you don't like. Your energy is better spent analyzing music you understand and appreciate. That doesn't mean you can't be critical. It just means that someone's first impression of you and your ideas shouldn't be based on your discussion of something you don't like. The negative stuff should be the sidebar, not the main article.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:49 am

I think what you've just written is actually a euphemistic statement that one shouldn't criticize. That pretty much excludes all those music critics who currently populate the daily press.

I read a 'review' of a new version of 'King Lear' which has just been staged in Melbourne, Australia. The lead character is a female, and not the traditional male Lear. The critic called the performance 'coiled and centripetal' and said the play was, overall, 'cranky' and not Shakespeare's best. I agree with this, and have always thought Lear over-rated as a play. My years of high-school Advanced level English teaching obviously wouldn't qualify me to make a statement like that!

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Werner » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:26 am

A small corection, Tarantella: my cpmments re "denuncaition' were not directed at you, but Garrett's comments of Mozart "boring him silly." That to me msakes no sense at all because it strikes me that he haas not abssorbed when makes Mozart Mozart. Similarlthings can be said about othe composers of different areas. Anyone want to start tallking aboutSchubert;s artful siimplicity? Now he's not Mozart. but I happen to be extraordinarily fond of his work- joinmed by people of the caliber of Schnabel, Fleisher, Hungerford,Lupu, Aeschbacher, Donald, and so many others at the varying levels of mastery.

i do understand your feelings about Haydn vs. Mozart. Neither one, not even Schubert, "bores me silly."
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:37 am

I absolutely ADORE Schubert - adore!! I've just presented a program on him for Music Appreciation and I came to love him more from my reading and research. Achingly beautiful melodies and that last, great, symphony - maturity beyond his years. Not to mention the chamber music (thought I'm not a fan of the "Trout").

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:43 am

Trouble is, Mozart was showcased as a celeb doing circuit from a very early age. He probably had nice upper-class ladies gazing in awe upon him through their lorgnettes.

He wrote pop music for the elite, the concert-goers and drawing room attendees who had to attend as a social duty if they wanted to stay in the scene, whether they liked the music or not. It's pretty music. It works (most times anyway); he had Haydn's model to draw on.

There isn't much to dislike about it so it remains popular today.

I've found nothing special in what I've heard; not encouraged to search out more. For something light I spin a few compilation discs of light music from the 20th C. The only Mozart recordings I have are a Telarc one of Eine Kleine, the 4 horn concertos (w/Dennis Brain) and a cloned disc of the oboe and flute quartets.
Last edited by absinthe on Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:01 am

"It's pretty music". You've nailed it. This is where I have the problem. But I appreciate that people love it and find something superb in that. The music for the operas is quite excellent, even though I grow quickly fatigued by the unremitting lyricism. (Let me add one disclaimer: The 'Trio' from "Cosi fan Tutti" is the greatest single piece of music ever written by Mozart, and amongst the greatest music of all time. The rest of the opera leaves me cold.)


Today I prefer an opera composer like Richard Strauss because his operas are luxuriant in orchestration, harmonically and melodically very interesting/angular and, for me, "Salome" is a very great opera which is an especial favourite. I sat through it last year at Oper Live am Platz, Wien, and 'translated' it for my husband. That great last line, "kill that woman" is magnificent and devastating. What a composer! (What a text to work with!!)

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:14 am

Rosner's piece appears in his own blog, dated March 1, 2006. Happy 250th birthday, Mozart! I also found a response to it on Jeffrey Quick's blog, Rosner's response to Quick, and Quick's response to Rosner. (See http://blog.case.edu/jeffrey.quick/2006 ... phemes_god.)

Like all of us, Rosner is entitled to his personal taste, but that's all he gives us. As serious criticism, what he's saying is empty. It's just a rant.

What is Rosner's criterion for musical excellence? That music "address any and all aspects of the human condition.” What does he mean by this? Does he believe any music can address, for example, those aspects of the human condition involved in arguing a legal case in court, driving a car, or fixing a TV set? Of course not, because no music is capable of addressing them. So he doesn't really mean "any and all aspects of the human condition." The rhetoric may have an impressive sound, but it's empty.

What particular "aspects of the human condition" does he mean? Though he doesn't say so directly, he appears to be talking about those aspects of the human condition having to do with emotion. Does he mean that music should address any and all emotions? But music is not capable of this. It may "address" generalized emotions such as happiness and sadness, joy and rage, the most basic that we feel. But what music, without words, can express desire, or gratitude, or envy, or indifference? Let alone erotic desire as distinct from desire for chocolate ice cream. So even if "aspects" is narrowed to "emotions," "any and all" is still empty rhetoric.

Rosner evidently prefers the minor mode, and the negative emotions it is conventionally believed to express, to the major mode and the positive emotions associated with it. And he wants composers to stay within the minor mode throughout; if a piece begins in the minor but ends in the major, he's offended by this as some kind of a cop-out. If that's how he feels as a matter of his personal taste, there's no arguing with him; but he makes no serious case for it as an objective critical judgment. Again he comes up empty.

As for Mozart, Rosner is offended that his music sometimes swings back and forth expressively between tragic and comic emotions. He mocks the way the D minor piano concerto ends, focusing on the humorous riff first given by the trumpet and repeated by others in the orchestra and the piano, but doesn't explain just what he feels is wrong with it. Rosner's other example, the extended trombone solo in the Requiem, is nobody's idea of Mozart at his best and may not even be by Mozart, whose unfinished Requiem was completed by other hands; but even if Mozart did compose it, to base a critical judgment of Mozart's entire oeuvre and significance on it, as Rosner literally asks us to do in his last sentences, is like basing your assessment of Beethoven on the Battle Symphony and "Der glorreiche Augenblick." That would be ignorant at best, in Rosner's case clearly malicious, and certainly not to be taken seriously.

To say that Mozart's music is "overrated" is to acknowledge its high "ratings" by countless other composers, musicians, and critics across more than two centuries, and to contradict them. Can anyone name a single music professional who shares Rosner's view? (I know of one contemporary composer who supposedly said something like "Mozart is s**t," but I'll leave it to you to find out who he is. :) )

At the end, Rosner says he'll stake his reputation on his being right about Mozart's music. Surely that's yet more empty rhetoric, but if he really means it, I have to ask, "What reputation?" The man has no reputation to speak of, he's a nonentity. As a composer he keeps on composing and composing, but the actual quality of his music aside, his music is hardly ever performed and when it is, it makes no impact; I can't find a single reference to him, let alone a review, in the New York Times (his hometown newspaper) or anywhere else. He teaches at Brooklyn's Kingsborough Community College, a mediocre vocationally oriented school which has no music department - he's in its Department of Communications and Performing Arts. And he would denigrate Mozart's reputation? Sour grapes, or worse.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:33 am

absinthe wrote:Mozart...probably had nice upper-class ladies gazing in awe upon him through their lorgnettes.
They included Maria Theresia, Empress of Austria, and her daughter Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. More upper than that, class doesn't get. :) But this was when he was a child. Grown up, he impressed all the leading music professionals and connoisseurs of his day. You could look it up.
absinthe wrote:He wrote pop music for the elite, the concert-goers and drawing room attendees who had to attend as a social duty if they wanted to stay in the scene, whether they liked the music or not.
That's a load of bull. Mozart's appreciative audience in his mature years extended from Emperor Joseph II to the popular audience at the suburban theatre where "The Magic Flute" was a long-running hit and made the theatre manager's fortune without a ducat of aristocratic subsidy. They had no "social duty" to attend; they bought tickets and filled the house night after night because they loved it. You could look that up.
absinthe wrote:The only Mozart recordings I have are a Telarc one of Eine Kleine, the 4 horn concertos (w/Dennis Brain) and a cloned disc of the oboe and flute quartets.
And it shows. Mozart's reputation does not depend on these entertaining but slight pieces, some of which (the flute quartets) were unwillingly composed for the money. If they're all you are familiar with, I can see why you think his music merely pretty. But if I were that unacquainted with Mozart's greatest achievements, I wouldn't boast about it.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:36 am

IcedNote wrote:Since I posted the article, I'll state my opinion: Most Mozart bores me silly.

Wow I'm shocked--for me I have to say Mozart is near the top--gotta admit he's even better than Meyerbeer! Regards, Len [fleeing]

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:43 am

absinthe wrote:Trouble is, Mozart was showcased as a celeb doing circuit from a very early age. He probably had nice upper-class ladies gazing in awe upon him through their lorgnettes.

He wrote pop music for the elite, the concert-goers and drawing room attendees who had to attend as a social duty if they wanted to stay in the scene, whether they liked the music or not. It's pretty music. It works (most times anyway); he had Haydn's model to draw on.
From the operas I've seen of Haydn I have a feeling he didn't draw on Haydn for operas--maybe he did but in either case Mozart rises way above Haydn in the world of opera IMHO! Regards, Len

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:57 am

John F wrote: (I know of one contemporary composer who supposedly said something like "Mozart is s**t," but I'll leave it to you to find out who he is. :) )

.
Darn it , I couldn't find a composer but I did find this article--could it be Gould, was he a composer as well as a pianist? I see Delius was critical but did he use the S-word?

"Mozart was a bad composer who died too late rather than too early."

Um... excuse me? Should you really be saying something like that right after his 250th birthday...?

Well, yes... because today I'm declaring open season on Mozart.

It was legendary pianist Glenn Gould who made that surprisingly blasphemous proclamation, and I think it's a subversive delight to behold amid all the hype and marketing surrounding Mozart's 250th this year. If you look hard enough, you can even find a few other Mozart detractors out there...

No less a talent than renowned opera diva Maria Callas once stated, with refreshing bluntness, that "most of Mozart's music is dull."

British composer Frederick Delius is said to have remarked, "If a man tells me he likes Mozart, I know in advance that he is a bad musician."

Esteemed music journalist Norman Lebrecht spewed forth a particularly bitter anti-Mozart tirade not long ago titled Too Much Mozart Makes You Sick.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross provocatively suggested celebrating Mozart by ignoring Mozart on his 250th birthday.

But nobody can top good ol' Glenn Gould when it comes to anti-Mozart quotations: he also memorably (and rather accurately) described Mozart's 40th symphony as "eight remarkable measures ... surrounded by a half-hour of banality."

Otherwise, all kinds of brilliant and intelligent people have predictably said reverent and worshipful things about Wolfgang over the years, and paying tribute to the boy genius and/or prodigy on his big day was a mandatory ritual for music lovers everywhere.

Mozart concerts and operas were performed worldwide over the weekend, and all night Mozart birthday parties raged on in Salzburg and Vienna, Austria (but not in Elroy, Wisconsin.)

Some people apparently listened to Mozart on the radio for 11 hours straight on January 27: the holy day of His birth. If that wasn't enough of an Amadeus fix, you could switch over to BBC Radio 3 for 24 hours of continuous Mozart, or NPR where they boasted about their "BIRTHDAY GIFT TO MOZART ON HIS 250TH: MORE THAN 60 HOURS OF PROGRAMMING."

The article continues with a pg 2 and a pg 3 here:

http://blogcritics.org/music/article/why-mozart/

Regards, Len

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:02 am

That's good hunting! Add Glenn Gould, whom I forgot about, and the others. I don't include journalists, however "esteemed," and especially not Lebrecht, who will say anything for a headline; and Alex Ross does not put down Mozart's music, he was saying that overexploitation dulls appreciation and isn't a good thing.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:09 am

John F wrote:and Alex Ross does not put down Mozart's music, he was saying that overexploitation dulls appreciation and isn't a good thing.
Thanks for clearing that up! Regards, Len

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:21 am

John F wrote:That's good hunting! Add Glenn Gould, whom I forgot about, and the others. I don't include journalists, however "esteemed," and especially not Lebrecht, who will say anything for a headline; and Alex Ross does not put down Mozart's music, he was saying that overexploitation dulls appreciation and isn't a good thing.
Darn it I thought I might have gotten it but this guy wasn't a composer. :( I did get the info on Alex Ross's website though!

From Wiki
Boris Goldovsky (Cyrillic: Борис Голдовский) (June 7, 1908 - February 15, 2001) was a Russian conductor and broadcast commentator, active in the United States. He has been called an important "popularizer" of opera in America.[1] As an opera producer, conductor, impresario, and broadcaster he was prominent within the American operatic community between 1946 and 1985.

From Alex Ross's website:

Goldovsky, Mozart, and Wagner: A Moment Briefly Revisited

I once, in the mid-'70s, had occasion to lunch with the great Boris Goldovsky — famous for his Metropolitan Opera broadcast intermission features, and general manager, dramaturge, director, and music director of his own opera company — at his New York City studio (a half-gruesome, half-comic tale in its own right which I'll relate in a subsequent entry on this blog*), and over lunch opera was, of course, the subject of conversation. Goldovsky loved all opera, needless to say, but had a bit of a monomania concerning Mozart whom he insisted on referring to as He Who Was Not Of Woman Born. In short, Goldovsky was a near-worshipper of Mozart.

Eventually, we got around to discussing Wagner, and at just the mention of the name, Goldovsky turned his face toward the ceiling, threw his arms up in a sort of helpless gesture (Goldovsky was a native Russian, and, well, you know just how emotional Russians can get, especially after tucking away three or four shot glasses filled with lethal-strength vodka), and declared passionately in a vodka-thickened Russian accent which I here won't even attempt to mimic, "Wagner!, Wagner! He consumes me!"

I at first thought he was merely engaging in a bit of stage business to create a dramatic moment to precede some point he wanted to make. But it was no stage business. The man looked positively stricken.

I, of course, was stunned speechless, and my astonishment must have shown on my face because he quickly caught hold of himself and, poised and quietly, explained, "Every time I conduct Wagner the world disappears, and for days after, all other opera seems nothing but excrement. Verdi is excrement. Puccini is excrement. Tchaikovsky is excrement. Even Beethoven is excrement. And...," and here he paused, leaned his face close to mine, lowered his voice conspiratorially, and with genuine distress written over all his features, he, in a hoarse, shamefaced whisper declared," and, Mozart...even Mozart is excrement."

I then understood him perfectly.

Indeed I did — and still do.

http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsandfury/mozart/

Regards, Len :)

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:38 am

John F wrote:What particular "aspects of the human condition" does he mean? Though he doesn't say so directly, he appears to be talking about those aspects of the human condition having to do with emotion. Does he mean that music should address any and all emotions? But music is not capable of this. It may "address" generalized emotions such as happiness and sadness, joy and rage, the most basic that we feel. But what music, without words, can express desire, or gratitude, or envy, or indifference? Let alone erotic desire as distinct from desire for chocolate ice cream. So even if "aspects" is narrowed to "emotions," "any and all" is still empty rhetoric.

Rosner evidently prefers the minor mode, and the negative emotions it is conventionally believed to express, to the major mode and the positive emotions associated with it. And he wants composers to stay within the minor mode throughout; if a piece begins in the minor but ends in the major, he's offended by this as some kind of a cop-out. If that's how he feels as a matter of his personal taste, there's no arguing with him; but he makes no serious case for it as an objective critical judgment. Again he comes up empty.
It's a problem. I'd once post on this site with a kind of litigatory eye to how it'd be received. This old issue of dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's. If we take your response to heart, it's difficult to see what can be gained by talking about music at all, except technically. Even then it would be difficult not to talk about the effect of the technical without getting subjective - and that might be fine as long as a reference to emotion is kept broad enough that it's likely the listener/reader has experienced that emotion.

It's physically possible to explain why a minor key sounds strange: the minor third clashing with the 5th harmonic of the fundamental - but relating that to emotions is awkward. Ontically we intuit how a passage of music affects us but whether we're all experiencing the same emotion (if such an idea has any meaning) is dubious. And how we react to such an emotion is likely very different.

So we have alternatives: we try to express our responses and perhaps explain why in an anecdotal kind of way. To the empathetic listener it would arouse interest and might lead to discussion; or we recognise that words are useless for 'explaining' experience and just let the music do what it is supposed to do, reaching in to regions beyond the capacity of words.

My personal reaction to the original post is mixed: Mozart composed conservative music. It follows established rules using established harmonies with unaccented passing notes resolving properly, and with the all-important rhythm that gets feet tapping - or, in his day, dance. The bars and beats can be counted easily - if nothing else that makes the lot of orchestral players easier. I'm not claiming that the rhythm was always a foot tapper but at a common sense level most people would know what I mean.

Doesn't mean that it isn't good - the opposite, it's clever. But it's still pop, appealing, like all pop, to a wider public. A recent example is The Beatles. Think of a song like "Yesterday". Intuitively McCartney did all the things Mozart would have done: resolving the opening appoggiatura properly; using the melodic minor correctly in the melody line; interesting modulations and so on - but all without a formal musical education. As with Mozart many of their songs were hits in their day.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:04 am

Well I think Mozart is wonderful. After, say, K. 350 it's just a string of extraordinary masterpieces. I think what we're seeing is a post-Amadeus backlash. For a long time, starting in the 90s, Mozart was marketed as kind of a secular saint, able to magically raise IQs. At the same time he was shown as fun kind of guy, always ready with a naughty joke.Those of us who have been Mozart lovers since before Amadeus can just shrug all the hype off as silliness and enjoy the music.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:36 am

Rosner wrote: See if you don’t agree. When you’ve been to your umpteenth Mozart concert this year,
You see, here is his real problem. Every composer has to make peace with the fact that the old guys like Mozart are going to occupy so much time on programs that there's no time for new music, such as their own. Rosner has not done so, and has in the process made himself look like a fool, since the arguments put forth in his essay are simplistic and superficial in the extreme.

Karel Husa (my teacher) used to always say "We cannot write like Mozart any more, because Mozart's music was so beautiful and perfect in his style, that we cannot compete with it. We have to find another way." To me, that's a healthier and more realistic attitude.

Anyway, here's a sample of Rosner's own music. It's not bad. It's very much in the same vein as Hovanhess' Mysterious Mountain. I wouldn't fault him for not coming up to the standard of Mozart's work (who does?), except that he's on the record with this stupid-ass statement.


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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Steinway » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:43 am

"Doesn't mean that it isn't good - the opposite, it's clever. But it's still pop, appealing, like all pop, to a wider public. A recent example is The Beatles. Think of a song like "Yesterday". Intuitively McCartney did all the things Mozart would have done: resolving the opening appoggiatura properly; using the melodic minor correctly in the melody line; interesting modulations and so on - but all without a formal musical education. As with Mozart many of their songs were hits in their day."

To mention the Beatles and Paul McCartney in the same breath as Mozart is the height of absurdity.

To read the comments from mediocrity like Rosner is to cause old geezers like me to just chuckle and shake my head in bewilderment.

Mozart's musical outpoint is astounding and covers every phase of the genre, from works for every instrument, operas, choral works, symphonies, chamber works..and to render his genius irrelevant, or trite, or lacking in substance is patently ridiculous.

One may not prefer his body of work over other composers but to relegate him to a low level among the great composers is totally beyond my comprehension.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Werner » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:44 am

The subject seems to have taken a great deal of spce here - whether it's excessive I'll leave to the exprrts who present their opnion.

Some comments are from multi-cultural sources. Perhaps we can do some justice to the argument by recognising its German source, and end is with a German riposte{ "Nur kein Neid!"
Werner Isler

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by johnQpublic » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:53 am

I have that Rosner disc Mark posted as a YouTube clip. It's OK music but nothing to get excited about.

And it's OK for anyone to not love Mozart; BUT way...way too many of the world's greatest musicians over the past several hundred years know the true genius of Mozart. They've studied him in minute detail and plenty of his work, especially the second half of his output, comes up head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:32 am

I don't have a source at hand to verify that the trombone solo in the Tuba Mirum is Mozart's but the manuscript is readily available in facsimile, and one could see which parts are in Mozart's hand. Mozart's working methods, and he did this throughout the Sequence in the Requiem, is to write out the vocal parts and the bass line in full, plus the important instrumental lines, and then fill in the accompanying parts later. That is, he had all the staves for the full score ruled out, and he made several passes, the first for the vocal parts and bass line and the important instrumental lines, such as instrumental solos. Unless, for some reason, he abandoned that procedure in this one instance, the trombone solo would have been one of the things Mozart wrote in. The string parts would be Süssmayr's.

Why would he write it for trombone? Because the German Bibles talk about "die letzte Posaune" when other language editions say "the last trumpet". Mozart wrote an extensive solo for trombone in his very early oratorio Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots for the same purpose, because the text dealt with the day of judgment. Why doesn't he write a blazing mass of brass like Berlioz and Verdi? Maybe it's because he's looking at it not from the standpoint of a spectator at a grand celestial auto-da-fe, but rather from the viewpoint of a single soul fearful of not being found worthy (this is just my own speculation).

There's one moment in the Tuba Mirum that I find particularly touching, and that is at 2:44 in this video:


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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:08 pm

Donald Isler wrote:I cannot take seriously someone with his opinions as a serious musician.
:roll:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:12 pm

Werner wrote:I can only pity Garrett if Mozartr "bores him silly." He'll never know what he's missing. In the meanwhile there are we many common folk, as well as masters like Myra Hess. Artur Schnabel, Horszowski, and so many masters who have made theyr way into these masterworks. By what standard can Garrett compare himself to these?
I'll be just fine, thanks. :roll:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:21 pm

What cracks me up is that some of you are talking about Mozart as though he wrote some kind of Universal Truth into his music. :lol:

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by johnQpublic » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:29 pm

Weeee!


"The most tremendous genius raised Mozart above all masters, in all centuries and in all the arts."
~ Richard Wagner


"Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music."
~ Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


"Does it not seem as if Mozart's works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them?"
~ Robert Schumann


"Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it-that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed."
~ Albert Einstein


"The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to play because of the quantity of notes; grown-ups avoid him because of the quality of notes."
~ Artur Schnabel


"Beethoven I take twice a week, Haydn four times, and Mozart every day!"
~ Gioachino Antonio Rossini
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by johnQpublic » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:34 pm

Weeeeee!


Mozart makes you believe in God because it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and leaves such an unbounded number of unparalleled masterpieces.
- (Georg Solti)

Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement.
- (George Szell)


Does it not seem as if Mozart's works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them?
- (Robert Schumann)

If we cannot write with the beauty of Mozart, let us at least try to write with his purity.
- (Johannes Brahms)

Before Mozart, all ambition turns to despair.
- (Charles Gounod)

Mozart encompasses the entire domain of musical creation, but I've got only the keyboard in my poor head.
- (Chopin)

What gives Bach and Mozart a place apart is that these two great composers never sacrificed form to expression. As high as their expression may soar, their musical form remains supreme and all-efficient.
- (Camille Saint-Saens)

In Bach, Beethoven and Wagner we admire principally the depth and energy of the human mind; in Mozart, the divine instinct.
- (Edvard Grieg)

Together with the puzzle, Mozart gives you the solution.
- (Ferruccio Busoni)

I find consolation and rest in Mozart's music, wherein he gives expression to that joy of life which was part of his sane and wholesome temperament.
- (Peter Tschaikovsky)

Mozart tapped the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness.
- (Aaron Copland)

Mozart's music is particularly difficult to perform. His admirable clarity exacts absolute cleanness: the slightest mistake in it stands out like black on white. It is music in which all the notes must be heard.
- (Gabriel Faure)

Mozart shows a creative power of such magnitude that one can virtually say that he tossed out of himself one great masterpiece after another.
- (Claudio Arrau)


The works of Mozart may be easy to read, but they are very difficult to interpret. The least speck of dust spoils them. They are clear, transparent, and joyful as a spring, and not only those muddy pools which seem deep only because the bottom cannot be seen.
- (Wanda Landowska)

I never heard so much content in so short a period.
- (Pinchas Zukerman)


Mozart resolved his emotions on a level that transformed them into moods uncontaminated by mortal anguish, enabling him to express the angelic anguish that is so peculiarly his own.
- (Yehudi Menuhin)

Mozart touched no problem without solving it to perfection.
- (Donald Tovey)

Mozart's music is the mysterious language of a distant spiritual kingdom, whose marvelous accents echo in our inner being and arouse a higher, intensive life.
- (E. T. A. Hoffmann)


It is hard to think of another composer who so perfectly marries form and passion.
- (Leonard Bernstein)


The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to paly because of the quantity of notes; grown ups avoid him because of the quality of notes.
- (Artur Schnabel)

Mozart, prodigal heaven gave thee everything, grace and strength, abundance and moderation, perfect equilibrium.
- (Charles Gounod)

Who has reached the extreme limits of scale with the same infallible precision, equally guarded against the false refinement of artificial elegance and the roughness of spurious force? Who has better known how to breathe anguish and dread into the purest and most exquisite forms?
- (Charles Gounod)

It is a real pleasure to see music so bright and spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and grace.
- (Brahms)

Give Mozart a fairy tale and he creates without effort an immortal masterpiece.
- (Saint Saens)


I listened to the pure crystalline notes of one of Mozart's concertos dropping at my feet like leaves from the trees.
- (Virgil Thompson)


Mozart's music is constantly escaping from its frame, because it cannot be contained in it.
- (Leonard Bernstein)

Mozart combines serenity, melancholy, and tragic intensity into one great lyric improvisation. Over it all hovers the greater spirit that is Mozart's-the spirit of compassion, of universal love, even of suffering--a spirit that knows no age, that belongs to all ages.
- (Leonard Bernstein)

21 piano sonatas, 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, 18 masses, 13 operas, 9 oratorios and cantata, 2 ballets, 40 plus concertos for various instruments, string quartets, trios and quintets, violin and piano duets piano quartets, and the songs. This astounding output includes hardly one work less than a masterpiece.
- (George Szell)

What a picture of a better world you have given us, Mozart!
- (Franz Schubert)
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:39 pm

lennygoran wrote:Goldovsky, Mozart, and Wagner: A Moment Briefly Revisited
That's the point: what you found isn't really about Mozart or Wagner, it's about Boris Goldovsky who, as Ross says, was "a near-worshipper of Mozart." Goldovsky conducted the American premiere of "Idomeneo" at the Tanglewood Festival, and the one time I saw him conduct, it was "Don Giovanni." If the very thought of Wagner made Goldovsky go gaga, that wasn't uncommon in his generation, which came of age before the rise of Wagner's most notorious fan tainted his music by association. At the end, Ross says in effect that he understands where Goldovsky was coming from, but doesn't feel the need to explain just what he understood, or whether he personally agreed. Maybe he should have.

Where Ross himself is coming from, he sets forth at length in his 2006 essay "The Storm of Style: Mozart's Golden Mean." In the course of it he reveals that he transferred Philips's complete Mozart edition to his iPod, all 9.77 gigabytes of it. He then "went through the whole megillah," from the very first notes Mozart composed to the very last. "I can't claim to have given every bar close attention - a patch of recitative in the early opera 'La finta semplice' was disrupted by a protracted public address announcement at Detroit Metro Airport, and most of the Contredance No. 4 in F (K. 101) was drowned out by the crack drum corps Drumedies performing in the Times Square subway station - but I did get a bird's-eye view of Mozart's achievement, and was more in awe than ever." After discussing in detail some aspects of Mozart's style, he concludes, "Counterpoint and dissonance are the cables on which Mozart's bridges to paradise hang." I imagine Boris Goldovsky would have understood Ross perfectly.
John Francis

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:53 pm

It's the very "purity", "perfection" and "beauty" of Mozart that has most caused me to shut off. I don't want my music to be merely these things - it has to be challenging, thought-provoking, disturbing, complex, moving, introspective, serene, questioning, searching, yearning, dynamic, forward-looking, intellectual, daring..." I'll stop there. I don't find really many of these things in Mozart, to be honest, and for this reason alone I think him over-rated. The things which provided joy for the Austrian aristocracy were definitely not there to disturb them!! Beethoven knew this and, God bless him, he moved music onwards and upwards. I'm reading lots of books about Beethoven and my love is growing exponentially.

The 'hegemony of Mozart' is now exhausted for me and he probably, in all honesty, ranks about 25th on my list of preferred composers these days. As I said, in the 1980's he was number one. It's amazing how precious people are on this subject. But, in all honesty, if people said these things about Beethoven or Bach I'd probably feel exactly the same!!

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:02 pm

To say that an artist is "over-rated" is to claim that the majority opinion of him is wrong and you know better. That may perhaps be so, but it needs to be supported with reasons. To say that you personally don't rate the artist as highly as the majority, needs no reasoning, but in that case it's more about you than about the artist.
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:04 pm

Tarantella wrote:it has to be challenging, thought-provoking, disturbing, complex, moving, introspective, serene, questioning, searching, yearning, dynamic, forward-looking, intellectual, daring..." I'll stop there. I don't find really many of these things in Mozart,
I find all of those things there. Keep looking.

Actually, a better answer would be similar to the one Louis Armstrong gave when asked to define swing: "if someone gotta tell you, you ain't never gonna know".

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:29 pm

Tarantella wrote:It's the very "purity", "perfection" and "beauty" of Mozart that has most caused me to shut off. I don't want my music to be merely these things - it has to be challenging, thought-provoking, disturbing, complex, moving, introspective, serene, questioning, searching, yearning, dynamic, forward-looking, intellectual, daring..." I'll stop there. I don't find really many of these things in Mozart, to be honest, and for this reason alone I think him over-rated. The things which provided joy for the Austrian aristocracy were definitely not there to disturb them!! Beethoven knew this and, God bless him, he moved music onwards and upwards. I'm reading lots of books about Beethoven and my love is growing exponentially.
That's it. There really isn't anything challenging about Mozart but people have striven such that a bad performance stands out like a toothache. I can't understand how composers can be "rated" except on sales of media and concert tickets or broadcasts or something. Composers are. Mozart will continue to be popular throughout the ages precisely for the reasons you give: he's unchallenging (well, maybe his operatic subjects might be challenging but that's a different story); he doesn't expect me to project anything of my consciousness into his work. When at home with Radio 3 playing, Mozart (and Haydn for that matter) don't distract me from what I'm supposed to be working on. Nice aural wallpaper.

But it ain't his fault he's been put on a pedestal. My reference work says:
"One of the most pleasing things about Mozart is that hardly anyone can perform his music well.... As the ideal seems to be an orchestra of angels with St Peter conducting and Mozart himself playing the piano, it is quite clear why mere mortals fail. Sir Thomas Beecham was, of course, St Peter in heavy disguise and Clara Haskill and Wanda Landowski were both in psychic contact with Mozart. If you find Mozart's music boring you had better keep this horrible fact to yourself...." Later it goes on to discuss Mozart's personal habits. "Incidentally Mozart was a jolly good chap. He was quite as ugly as you or me, had a passion for beer and billiards and always had an overdraft. How much nearer to perfection can a composer get?"

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:35 pm

You've nailed it!! Mozart is one of the very few instances, in art music, where I can become distracted by other things. This is NEVER, EVER the case with Beethoven - who demands a hearing the very second I put on the CD or radio. More often than not, I'll reach for the score (piano sonata or symphony) for each hearing. Every time - every - I find something new. And the stillness, calm and preternatural energy that exists in tandem with great passion and complexity!! If that's somebody who's "never gonna know", bring it on!!

Last year when I lived in Vienna I enjoyed Mozart's masses played on many Sundays at Augustinerkirche. But, I remember saying to myself, these all sound the same.

May I also respectfully suggest that the greater number of people who like and appreciate something the lesser is the chance of that thing being anything other than spectacularly accessible. And I want to work hard when I listen.
Last edited by Tarantella on Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by diegobueno » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:43 pm

It's clear from the comments of some people here that Mozart is very very difficult to understand.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by Tarantella » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:44 pm

You think? I think you're "having a lend", as we say in Australia!

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:53 pm

diegobueno wrote:It's clear from the comments of some people here that Mozart is very very difficult to understand.
Do you mean the person or the music? If the music, how does one understand a piece or pieces of music?

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:31 pm

diegobueno wrote:I find all of those things there. Keep looking.
diegobueno wrote:It's clear from the comments of some people here that Mozart is very very difficult to understand.
There you go again. The CMG highhorse is in full gear!

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:32 pm

John F wrote:To say that an artist is "over-rated" is to claim that the majority opinion of him is wrong and you know better. That may perhaps be so, but it needs to be supported with reasons. To say that you personally don't rate the artist as highly as the majority, needs no reasoning, but in that case it's more about you than about the artist.
Agreed.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

slofstra
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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by slofstra » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:57 pm

diegobueno wrote:I don't have a source at hand to verify that the trombone solo in the Tuba Mirum is Mozart's but the manuscript is readily available in facsimile, and one could see which parts are in Mozart's hand. Mozart's working methods, and he did this throughout the Sequence in the Requiem, is to write out the vocal parts and the bass line in full, plus the important instrumental lines, and then fill in the accompanying parts later. That is, he had all the staves for the full score ruled out, and he made several passes, the first for the vocal parts and bass line and the important instrumental lines, such as instrumental solos. Unless, for some reason, he abandoned that procedure in this one instance, the trombone solo would have been one of the things Mozart wrote in. The string parts would be Süssmayr's.

Why would he write it for trombone? Because the German Bibles talk about "die letzte Posaune" when other language editions say "the last trumpet". Mozart wrote an extensive solo for trombone in his very early oratorio Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots for the same purpose, because the text dealt with the day of judgment. Why doesn't he write a blazing mass of brass like Berlioz and Verdi? Maybe it's because he's looking at it not from the standpoint of a spectator at a grand celestial auto-da-fe, but rather from the viewpoint of a single soul fearful of not being found worthy (this is just my own speculation).

There's one moment in the Tuba Mirum that I find particularly touching, and that is at 2:44 in this video:


When I read the opening article, I pulled up the Tuba Mirum on youtube, and came up with this exact clip. I was touched also by the hesitation at 2:44 in the music, the music seems to pull up for a minute with a pregnant pause. The other point I really liked was the little jig on the violins at 1:25 which sets up the next vocal line. I think what I like about Mozart's music is the unexpected turns. This particular aria goes along in a fairly ordinary and unsurprising way, but at certain points, when the tenor first jumps in, or at 1:25 as I mentioned, the music takes a surprising turn. So, often there's a minute or two of fairly ordinary music, but its those turns that make it exciting. Now mind you, Berry could sing scales the way he sings here, and it would sound great.
Mozart is very elusive for me. Sometimes a certain piece will do nothing for me at all, and the next time really turn my crank, but a time after that I may lose it again. It is the kind of music you can put on as background music, and it will sound pretty and ornamental, but then you really miss what's it about. It's like a woman who wears a lot of bangles and beads and layered clothes, so that you might miss her voluptuous figure. The piano sonatas are a case in point for me. I always found the lion's share of them fairly dry, and then one day I tried them again and I had an awakening with the music. As someone who has no technical training, my reaction to music is very intuitive. I'm surprised by my own reaction to music, because I don't know why a piece will suddenly work for me, when it didn't before. Cosi fan Tutte was one, as well, that took a third viewing before I really liked the piece a lot. Whereas Don Giovanni I liked from the get-go.

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Re: Arnold Rosner: Mozart most overrated of all composers

Post by John F » Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:13 pm

diegobueno wrote:I don't have a source at hand to verify that the trombone solo in the Tuba Mirum is Mozart's but the manuscript is readily available in facsimile, and one could see which parts are in Mozart's hand.
I haven't seen the facsimile, but a printed transcription of the autograph is provided in Christoph Wolff's book about the Requiem, and the trombone solo is in it. Like much of the Requiem, this is a first draft - all Mozart wrote down is the solo vocal line with the words, the bass line, and the trombone solo - and we can't know what the movement would have been like if he had lived to put it into final form. He might have left the trombone solo as is, or he might have done as at least one modern edition does and transfer the continuation to another instrument such as the cello, or he might have rewritten it. So Rosner is still in very shallow water, staking his reputation (as he says) on these few bars of Mozart's entire output.
John Francis

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