Mozart

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Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:16 am

Andras Schiff on Mozart:

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/mozart/st...819321.00.html

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Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:19 am

Sorry, this article no longer appears in the Guardian.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Post by RebLem » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:32 am

I went Googling around; I think I found it here--


http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/sto ... 45,00.html

The real Wolfgang

It has become fashionable to mock Mozart, and pianist András Schiff is tired of it. He salutes a composer whose music is full of surprises

Thursday July 13, 2006
The Guardian

This year will be remembered as Mozart year, in which the whole world pays homage to one of the greatest artists of all time, on the anniversary of his 250th birthday. Mozart's popularity has reached new heights, performances of his works are ubiquitous, and books and articles about him are so numerous that they could fill a whole library. This is indeed a cause to rejoice, so why does he need to be defended? After all, everybody loves Mozart.

Really? Let me quote from a recent article by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, published on the paper's arts blog, Culture Vulture: "Armando Iannucci recently had the sheer bottle to stand up in front of many of Britain's most distinguished classical musicians and confess that he didn't much care for Mozart."

Now, this is very important indeed. (Forgive my ignorance, but who is Armando Iannucci?) Elsewhere Norman Lebrecht has attacked Wolfgang Amadeus in a most unfair manner. I refuse to quote from his writings because they represent - to me - musical journalism at its most disagreeable. Glenn Gould - one of the most brilliant musical minds of the 20th century - wrote an essay in which he tries to explain why the C minor Piano Concerto (K491) is not a good work. He also didn't care for the piano sonatas, which he nevertheless recorded - to prove their mediocrity.
Why is it that certain people get such immense pleasure from this kind of iconoclasm? Does attacking the greatest artists in history make them feel better? It's good to enjoy the benefits of democracy, such as freedom of speech - let's remember the recent affair with the Danish cartoons and not ever take it for granted. But Mozart's greatest admirers included Haydn, Goethe, Kierkegaard, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Nietzsche, Debussy, and Britten. Putting this list against that of a few detractors, whose side would you like to be on?

How can we understand Mozart? His wonderful letters are an invaluable source of information, but is it acceptable to read other people's most private thoughts - would he have given us permission to eavesdrop? Hardly so. Today, everyone feels an urge to contribute to our image of Mozart. Scientists try to explain the neurological phenomenon of genius, psychologists see him as a victim of his tyrannical father, stage directors - many of whom can neither speak Italian nor read music - use his operas as vehicles to express present-day social and political ideas that are totally alien to the works in question.

The mysteries are not in the biography, they are in the music itself. Many feel that the Peter Shaffer/Milos Forman film Amadeus has helped us to a deeper appreciation of the composer's art. I beg to differ. Great artists eat, drink, sleep, laugh and cry - just like us. But they also do something else that others cannot begin to comprehend. In our quest to understand Mozart we should be concerned with the differences, not the similarities. I'm afraid that Amadeus has told us more about the latter.

"Too easy for children, too difficult for adults," said Artur Schnabel of Mozart's solo piano music. A musical child can certainly play a Mozart sonata well, even beautifully. There are not too many notes - contrary to what the Emperor Joseph II stupidly says in Amadeus - only as many as necessary. For a child it all seems natural: melody, harmony and rhythm coexist in perfect equilibrium. Later, at the ripe age of 18 he begins to think about the music and begins discovering its complexities. It is not as simple as it first seemed, and he realises with horror that he can no longer play it with natural innocence. Paradise lost. If he or she is lucky then there is a good chance that it may return with old age. The pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski amazed us all at the age of 102 with interpretations of Mozart that combined the purity of childhood with the wisdom of experience.

One of the misconceptions about Mozart is that he composed effortlessly. This was not always true, although he did possess the greatest possible facility. When he wanted to write something extraordinary - like his six string quartets dedicated to Haydn - he took great care of all the details and needed a long time to accomplish his goals. Studying his autograph manuscripts, we can find numerous corrections in them, contrary to the common belief that the music flowed effortlessly from his pen.

In about 1780, in the library of Baron van Swieten, Mozart discovered the works of JS Bach. In those days nobody was interested in the music of the past: the public only wanted to hear the newest creations. (Today it's almost the other way around.) This encounter with Bach was a very significant event for the young composer. In his subsequent compositions, melodic genius and youthful exuberance are coupled with a mastery of counterpoint and polyphony that he had learned from the older master. The tiny piano piece, Eine Kleine Gigue (K574) was written in Leipzig and is a homage to Bach. Try playing this to someone who is unfamiliar with it and ask them who the composer is. There will be some strange guesses, even Schönberg and Webern, because the music is so daringly modern. Another piano piece, the A minor Rondo (K 511) sounds like a forerunner of Chopin - no wonder Mozart was Chopin's idol. Both of these works will be heard at the recital I'll be giving at the Proms next month.

The Royal Albert Hall as a venue for such delicately intimate music? It's true that they were written for the fortepiano with a small audience in mind. I have had the rare privilege of playing them on Mozart's own fortepiano in the very room where he was born. It was an unforgettable and moving experience - yet I feel that the music is of such sublime quality, its message so universal, that it can also be transferred to a large space and played on present-day instruments. Mozart is a gift to mankind, but do we deserve this gift? In the vast space of the Albert Hall a piano will first sound lost, like a soft voice in the desert. But gradually people will realise that it's worth listening to Mozart's voice - it transcends time.
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Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:39 am

Thank you so very much for finding it.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Post by Teresa B » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:08 am

Thanks to Agnes and Reblem! Very nice essay by Schiff--He speaks the truth. When all is said and done about Mozart's personal life, whatever color knickers he wore, it's his music that says it all.

Teresa
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:18 am

How can we understand Mozart? His wonderful letters are an invaluable source of information, but is it acceptable to read other people's most private thoughts - would he have given us permission to eavesdrop?
It is only from Mozart's letters that we can appreciate the reality behind something that is alluded to later in the article: He did not find composing easy, and mocked those who thought that he did.

I myself have been mocked (with some justification) recently for being grandiose in evaluating composers on the level of Mozart. But the truth is that in some very real sense he is on a different plane. To be willing to give one's life over to art when art was ripely to be snatched but only at a great price, and at the same time to be exactly the right person to do so, this is not granted to more than a tiny few.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by keaggy220 » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:37 am

Thanks for posting the article. My growing collection of classical music doesn't include a lot of Mozart -- yet, but one of my favorite works out of everything I own is Mozart's Clarinet concerto and quintet.

I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:47 am

keaggy220 wrote:Thanks for posting the article. My growing collection of classical music doesn't include a lot of Mozart -- yet, but one of my favorite works out of everything I own is Mozart's Clarinet concerto and quintet.

I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?
Do please stay with us. We all had that problem yesterday; it happens from time to time.

We have had our nut cases here too, but we are a pretty well moderated forum. If the literal moderators don't police an idiotic post, the many knowledgable regular posters will, and I can think of nothing more idiotic than the notion that Mozart's compositions were written by anyone other than Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus [aka Amadeus] Mozart.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Donald Isler » Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:18 am

A very good article. Thanks for finding it for us, Agnes and RebLem.
Donald Isler

Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:04 pm

.

I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?[/quote]

--------------

Yes, he has been here too. I believe, this man has been everywhere for the past 10 years claiming that an Italian (his name escapes me) composed Mozart's music, as well as Haydn's and Beethoven's.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Post by johnshade » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:37 pm

jbuck919 wrote:It is only from Mozart's letters that we can appreciate the reality ....
In Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life by Robert Spaethling (and W A Mozart) presents Mozart in all the rawness of his driving energies" (Spectator), preserved in the "zany, often angry effervescence" of his writing (Observer). Where other translators have ignored Mozart's atrocious spelling and tempered his foul language, "Robert Spaethling's new translations are lively and racy, and do justice to Mozart's restlessly inventive mind" (Daily Mail). Carefully selected and meticulously annotated, this collection of letters "should be on the shelves of every music lover" (BBC Music Magazine). Published for the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birthday. 16 pages of illustrations. Sunday Times [London] Mozart's honesty, his awareness of his own genius and his contempt for authority all shine out from these letters.

"A wonderful collection that gives Mozart a voice as a son, husband, brother and friend."—New York Times Book Review


http://www.amazon.com/Mozarts-Letters-L ... F8&s=books

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Post by keaggy220 » Mon Jan 15, 2007 4:13 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
keaggy220 wrote:Thanks for posting the article. My growing collection of classical music doesn't include a lot of Mozart -- yet, but one of my favorite works out of everything I own is Mozart's Clarinet concerto and quintet.

I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?
Do please stay with us. We all had that problem yesterday; it happens from time to time.

We have had our nut cases here too, but we are a pretty well moderated forum. If the literal moderators don't police an idiotic post, the many knowledgable regular posters will, and I can think of nothing more idiotic than the notion that Mozart's compositions were written by anyone other than Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus [aka Amadeus] Mozart.
Actually the break from this forum yesterday made me realize how good this forum is... I don't mind the "nut cases" since we all have at least a few opinions deeply imbedded in our DNA that some will find to be extreme, but what stood out to me was the many "top 10" posts in the other forums. While the occasionally list is fun - I believe frequent "list posts" point to a lack of depth that the contributors to those forums have in classical music.

With my own almost complete lack of knowledge (but growing knowledge!) in this genre it would be a profound waste of time for me to add to their ignorance. :)

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Post by Teresa B » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:42 pm

keaggy220 wrote: I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?
I think that guy was banned from this forum. His credibility is minimal, and he tends to infiltrate and consume discussion boards like a tumor.

Teresa
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Post by Gurn Blanston » Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:58 pm

Teresa B wrote:
keaggy220 wrote: I couldn't get on this forum for a good part of the day yesterday so I was looking at other classical music forums and I noticed an exhaustive post by a fellow claiming that Mozart didn't write a good deal of the music that he was credited for writing. Has anyone heard about this?
I think that guy was banned from this forum. His credibility is minimal, and he tends to infiltrate and consume discussion boards like a tumor.

Teresa
Yes, this board and many others. what I find particularly intriguing about his thesis is that Haydn didn't write any of HIS own music either. Rather, they were all written by the same person, who was apparently not only prolific as all-get-out, but capable of composing in 2 very different styles, on demand, as it were. Nut cases, indeed :roll:

In any case, that was quite an interesting article by Schiff. I have his CDs that he mentions, the solo fortepiano and also the one with his wife, Yukio Shiokawa (sic) playing Mozart's own violin while the play the violin sonatas. In addition to being great music, well-played, there is something incredibly touching in hearing the music actually performed on the composer's own instruments. Lovely.

8)
Regards,
Gurn

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:34 am

johnshade wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:It is only from Mozart's letters that we can appreciate the reality ....
In Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life by Robert Spaethling (and W A Mozart) presents Mozart in all the rawness of his driving energies" (Spectator), preserved in the "zany, often angry effervescence" of his writing (Observer).
Great little book!

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:21 am

Just wanted to add that it puzzles me when something is made of the scatological element of Mozart's letters (especially puzzling that people take that element of private letters, and make that a foundation for speculating on how 'coarse' his conversation in public/society 'would have been').

I mean, in either direction. It would perhaps be prudery to "suppress" that element in the letters, but I do not find it any crucial 'illumination' of his personality or character to hold it up in the spotlight. In other places and other times, people express themselves in certain ways when en famille, which do not translate particularly well. To a large degree, there is simply nothing to see here, folks.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:13 pm

I absolutely agree with Karl.

The crude language also appears in Mozart mother's letters addressed
to Leopold.

It is interesting to note that similar language used by both Mozart and his mother is still used in Salzburg and the area around Salzburg. It is also still used in Hungary. I have often heard my Hungarian friends, all men of
high education express themselves in the most vulgar terms without a single thought given to scatology. All was said in good fun, or rather what they considered fun.

It is all part of culture. The crudeness disappeared in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Manners and jokes change over a period time. We no longer laugh at jokes which we considered funny in the 1950s.

Today it is not possible for us to judge a man's character or the manner of his speech on what seemed funny to him more than 250 years ago.

Regards.
Agnes.

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:25 pm

"Adio, ben mio. Stick your ass in your mouth. S*it up the bed until it bursts."

(From a letter written by Mozart's mother to his father on the trip where she died.)

Although I understand what Agnes and others are saying and don't really disagree with it, I can't attribute a certain reluctance to address my own immediate family in correspondence in those terms entirely to the influence of Queen Victoria. To my mind, it must have seemed to many civilized people as ghastly a descent into vulgarity then as it does now.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:39 am

Dear John,

I do not attribute the change in manners entirely to Queen Victoria. Perhaps due to her, language had become more refined and restrained. I also must admit that I have not come across such language in any other letters I studied in preparation for my book. Mozart and his mother certainly stand out on this subject. I attribute the vulgarities more to the usage of language at the time, vulgarities being more prevalent in the provinces than perhaps in Vienna. Also I attribute the coarse language to what was then considered humour used in private correspondence meant for the recepient only and not for the world at large.

Mozart's letters have become the subject of extensive psychological analysis. Their scatalogical content prompted Stefan Zweig to send a copy
to Sigmund Freud in 1931 with the suggestion that his students study
the "frequent elements of infantilism and coprophilia" contained in the correspondence. Fortunately Mozart had no knowledge of how posterity would judge his exuberant games.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Re: Mozart

Post by johnshade » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:42 pm

Agnes Selby wrote:Fortunately Mozart had no knowledge of how posterity would judge his exuberant games.
-
Mozart's use of language does not bother me at all. If this is the way he wants to be humorous and witty it is all right with me. There is certainly more to the letters than humor. The letters give us insight into many of his compositions, e.g., Idomeneo. No one can know all the aspects of his life. I have read at least a dozen books about his life and work; I believe I have genuine admiration, appreciation, and some understanding of the genius of Mozart.

JS
Last edited by johnshade on Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Agnes Selby
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Re: Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:07 pm

johnshade wrote:
Agnes Selby wrote:Fortunately Mozart had no knowledge of how posterity would judge his exuberant games.
-
Mozart's use of language does not bother me at all. If this is the way he wants to be humorous and witty it is all right with me. There is certainly more to the letters than humor.

JS
-----------------------

You are quite right. Without the Mozart letters we would not know much about Mozart. His life would be a closed book and we would have to invent him as so many writers have already done. :roll:

However, thanks to his wife, Constanze, the letters are there to tell his story.

It was not the value of his letters as pertaining to his work but the letters Mozart wrote to his cousin, Basel that most people find difficult to associate with his music.

Kind regards,
Agnes.
----------------

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Re: Mozart

Post by DavidW » Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:05 am

Agnes Selby wrote: It was not the value of his letters as pertaining to his work but the letters Mozart wrote to his cousin, Basel that most people find difficult to associate with his music.

Kind regards,
Agnes.
----------------
Agnes, would you mind expanding upon that? I haven't read his letters, and you've piqued my curiousity on this issue of his letters to his cousin.

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Re: Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:23 pm

DavidW wrote:
Agnes Selby wrote: It was not the value of his letters as pertaining to his work but the letters Mozart wrote to his cousin, Basel that most people find difficult to associate with his music.

Kind regards,
Agnes.
----------------
Agnes, would you mind expanding upon that? I haven't read his letters, and you've piqued my curiousity on this issue of his letters to his cousin.
--------------------

You will find Mozart's letters to his cousin, Basel in Emily Anderson's "The Letters of Mozart and his Family". Any good library should have it.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Re: Mozart

Post by johnshade » Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:40 am

DavidW wrote:Agnes, would you mind expanding upon that? I haven't read his letters, and you've piqued my curiousity on this issue of his letters to his cousin.
"My Pen is Coarse and I am not Polite": Reading Mozart's Letters By Aaron Retica

The composer's letters are notoriously childish and vulgar. Are they a strange deviation from his music — or a window into the essential Mozart?

When Robert Spaethling's muck-embracing translation of Mozart's letters was published in England two years ago, playwright Peter Shaffer seized on Spaethling's fresh, filthy versions of the correspondence as further proof that he was right all along to portray the composer, in Amadeus, as a foul-mouthed, twitchy man, a disgusting imbecilic genius. In a letter to the Sunday Times of London, whose drama critic had accused the playwright of saddling Mozart with language that came from "the Shaffer family nursery," Shaffer cited Mozart's "smutty infantilism, compulsive childish rhyming, and obsessive scatology." In particular, Shaffer mentioned one "startlingly distasteful sentence" of Mozart's which he had used for a line in Amadeus. "Oui, by the love of my skin," Mozart wrote to his cousin Maria Anna in a sort of love letter, "I s--it on your nose, so it runs down your chin." Shaffer told the newspaper, "It was a paradox that the same person who wrote such sublime music used such language. But it was the case."

But is it really a paradox? Spaethling's translations were mostly ignored when Norton brought them out in the United States. This is a pity, because the word-drunk contrarian-vulgarian-comedian who emerges from Spaethling's excruciatingly exact rendering of Mozart's linguistic games — his rhymes and his puns, his scatological and coprophilic obsessions, his doublings, inversions and mirrorings — is the essential Mozart, a spitting image of the composer. Or should I say farting image?: Mozart, his father, his mother and his sister, all took part in the family's pooh by-play, which, believe it or not, was commonplace in polite Salzburg's society. They are forever wishing each other, before turning in for the night, to excrement with all their might. To his mother, Mozart writes, in verse, "Yesterday, though, we heard the king of *****/ It smelled as sweet as honey tarts/ While it wasn't in the strongest of voice/ It still came on as a powerful noise." Mozart's mother wrote him in a similar vein, though not with quite so much feeling.

This is what Stanley Sadie means when he writes, of Mozart's nine letters to his cousin Maria Anna, that they were "full of the obscene childish humor, characteristic of Salzburg, that also runs through his letters home." In the 1983 book-length version of his original New Grove article on Mozart, Sadie does not mention Mozart's letters to his cousin again. This tendency to domesticate Mozart's wild wit obscures its significance to our understanding of his dense playfulness, his uncanny ability to hear music everywhere, even as a passing wind concerto. Mozart taught himself to embrace life from top to bottom.

The standard English translation of Mozart's correspondence before Spaethling's, the decorous versions of Emily Anderson, which began appearing in 1935, also contributed to the misapprehension of the composer. Anderson favored the celestial over the earthy Mozart, whose language she likened to that of a "street urchin." The problem, Spaethling writes, is that "Anderson sought to render Mozart's letters into 'impeccable' English; Mozart wrote anything but 'impeccable' German, and therefore sounds much more eloquent and literate in Anderson's English than in his native tongue." Spaethling has even made a point of rendering into English Mozart's many misspellings.

The Mozart of the Bäsle letters ("the Bäsle" was Mozart's nickname for his cousin Maria Anna) is often compared to James Joyce. Reading Spaethling's liberated translation we understand why: "So sorry to hear that Herr Abate Salate has had another stroke choke," Mozart writes on November 5, 1777. "But I hope with the help of God fraud the consequences will not be dire mire." The phrase "God fraud" in particular mimics the underscoring of theological skepticism and comic subversion that runs like water through Mozart's music. Could the phrase ever have crossed Bach's — or even Beethoven's — mind? The letter writer, who claims to his father that he "cannot write poetically," seems almost to be generating a musical idiom out of the sound of his language. For example, the stuttering double-rhymes of Mozart's letter seem to anticipate the musical reunion of Papageno and Papagena in the second act of The Magic Flute (the long exchange of "Pa Pa Pas"). "God fraud" also gives the lie to those like Shaffer who claim that this is mere childish word play, an aberration not a foundation. Show me the nursery where "God-fraud" is considered a fit topic for discussion.

Mozart visited with Maria Anna for a few days in Augsburg in the fall of 1777; she came to Munich and Salzburg with him in the winter of 1778–9, a trip about which very little is known. Scholars disagree fiercely over the degree to which the reality of their relationship matched the sexual candor of their letters — with each side producing the letters as evidence. Mozart's father accused him of trifling with his niece, which prompted one of Mozart's most wounded replies: "What you are saying in such a biting way about the merry time that I had with your brother's daughter, has hurt me deeply." In the third letter, dated November 13, 1777, three weeks after Mozart's departure from Augsburg, Mozart addresses Maria Anna in French as "Ma tres chere Niece! Cousine! Fille! Mere, Soeur, et Epouse." Quite a few roles for the Bäsle to embody: niece, cousin, daughter, mother, sister and even wife. There is a kind of catalogue of possibility here that we glimpse nowhere else in Mozart but in his music itself, which is made obvious in the strange section which immediately follows:

Heaven, Hell, and a thousand sacristies, Croatians damnations, devils, and witchies, druids, cross-Battalions with no ends, by all the elements, with air, water, earth, and fire, Europe, asia, affrica, and America, jesuits, Augustins, Benedictins, Capuchins, Minorites, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carthusians, and dignified Holy-Crucians, Canons regular and irregular, and all hairy brutes and snitches, higgledy-piggedly castrates and bitches, asses, buffaloes, oxen, fools, nitwits, and fops!

Well. This is practically Whitmanesque — "I am large, I contain multitudes" — and it is in this spirit that it should be understood. Mozart's letters to the Bäsle are an epistolary dress rehearsal in which Mozart exhibits, for the first time, the full catalogue of demons, divines and half-castes who will take human form in the four great operas of his final decade, particularly in The Magic Flute. Mozart's language draws on French, Latin and Italian as well as German for its power; it is a kind of laboratory for the more complicated musical mixtures he will attempt later, but we can see here the shape these macaronic compositions will take. The breathless music underpinning Leporello's recitation of Don Giovanni's sexual exploits, for example, bears a resemblance to the free associative catalogue the composer describes to his cousin.

Toward its end, the letter reverts back to French, an odd twist because the Bäsle does not know the language. Mozart has been urging her to take it up. "I kiss your hands, your face, your knees, and your ———— at any rate, all that you permit me to kiss," he writes. Here the catalogue teases more than it spells out. But who exactly is it written for? Mozart suggested to his cousin in an earlier letter that she ask other authorities for help with his French, which was naughty of him: now that she has gotten the flavor of his German, who would she dare ask to translate his French? Mozart seems to want to play with words as much as he would like to play around with his cousin. The letters have taken on a life of their own, so to speak, a ceaseless flow of possibilities.

This is the sense in which, I think, the letters' coprophilia must be grounded. Mozart and his family were, by modern standards, undoubtedly tush-obsessed. (It has even been proposed, largely based on these letters and a few contemporary descriptions of his fidgetiness, that Mozart's had Tourette Syndrome.) But what is most intriguing about the Bäsle letters is the accompanying rearrangement of the world that Mozart imagines. On December 3rd, 1777, he deliberately switches subject and object in a series of sentences, proposing that "what you have kept, you must also promise, you always have to be a word of your man." Later, after he has fallen for Aloysia Weber (whose sister Constanze he would one day marry), he apologizes (sort of) for his delay in writing to the Bäsle, suggesting a kind of diplomatic inversion, "Our asses shall signal the tidings of peace." It is in this letter that he celebrates muck and mud in what amounts to a seditious little aria, "Dreck! Dreck! O Dreck!"

Two years later, Mozart even rearranges time, changing 1779 to 1709, so that the rhyme will work when he writes, "Salsbourg, 10th of May 1709er/ blow into my rear/ ——:——/ nothing could be finer/bon appetit."

In the same letter, he quotes the Roman Catholic Credo to praise the Bäsle's "enchanting beauties visibilia and invisibilia." This last phrase is a triple clue to the importance of these letters to our understanding of Mozart's imaginative powers. In one stroke, Mozart mocks the Mass, glories in Maria Anna's body, cloaked and uncloaked, while at the same time he invokes the truly invisible, intangible aspect of her beauty.

Even as he translates the Bäsle letters more explicitly than anyone before him, Spaethling's great achievement is to reveal how they are not beyond the pale at all. Three quarters of Mozart's letters feature some mention of music, but they are all essentially musical. The Bäsle letters simply exaggerate — even as they help to develop — a capaciousness that Mozart would later invest in his mature music, after he escaped to Vienna in 1781 — which is, incidentally, the year of his last, straightforward, almost reproving letter to his cousin. It seems incredible to us, but for Mozart even a ---- has a voice (remember the earlier lines to his mother). "You can see now," Mozart wrote to the Bäsle in the midst of their correspondence, "that I am able to write any way I want to, beautifully and wild, straight and crooked. The other day, I was in a bad humor, so my writing was beautiful, straight, and serious; today I'm in a good mood, and my writing is wild, crooked and jolly."
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Last edited by johnshade on Fri Jan 19, 2007 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DavidW
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Post by DavidW » Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:52 am

Thanks johnshade, that was interesting and shocking. I knew about the scatalogical bits of his letters, I wasn't aware of his sexually charged letters to his cousin. Uh wow, all the more that he makes a game of it.

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Post by Werner » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:28 am

.........and after all this discussion, there is still the music.
Werner Isler

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Post by Sapphire » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:53 am

Long ago, in a very amateurish way, I delved into bits of Mozart history and found myself wondering how such a scatological person ever managed to produce such a magnificent flow of works. The apologies and explanations above don't impress me at all. It never occurred to me that any of this might be the result of fakery and deceit. I have more recently read the various allegations about fakery on several internet sites. I'm sure it's mostly highly speculative. However, at the end of the day I'm still seriously wondering about Mozart. I want to believe that all of what he allegedly wrote is genuine, but the correlation between his music and personality doesn't stack up to me, given the type of personal rubbish he wrote, as quoted above. Nor can I see much natural transition in quality as he aged; there definitely seems to be a quantum leap in quality after about 1784 (ish). I am also troubled by the sudden emergence of 3 major symphonies in 1788, all written within about 6 weeks, with no obvious commissoning or evidence that any were actually played in his lifetime. I have no such trouble with any other major composer, where what is known of their personalities all fits quite well with their music. That's all I am saying, as I have absolutely no wish to stir up old sensitivities. I'm just adding my two-cents of opinion to what I perceive as lurking between the surface of some posts above, namely a degree of scepticsm.


Saphire

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Post by johnshade » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:37 pm

Saphire wrote: in a very amateurish way, I delved into bits of Mozart history and found myself wondering
Take the time to read this book and it will clear up your "wondering."

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http://www.amazon.com/Wolfgang-Amadeus- ... F8&s=books

Agnes Selby
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:26 pm

Saphire wrote:Long ago, in a very amateurish way, I delved into bits of Mozart history and found myself wondering how such a scatological person ever managed to produce such a magnificent flow of works. The apologies and explanations above don't impress me at all. It never occurred to me that any of this might be the result of fakery and deceit. I have more recently read the various allegations about fakery on several internet sites. I'm sure it's mostly highly speculative. However, at the end of the day I'm still seriously wondering about Mozart. I want to believe that all of what he allegedly wrote is genuine, but the correlation between his music and personality doesn't stack up to me, given the type of personal rubbish he wrote, as quoted above. Nor can I see much natural transition in quality as he aged; there definitely seems to be a quantum leap in quality after about 1784 (ish). I am also troubled by the sudden emergence of 3 major symphonies in 1788, all written within about 6 weeks, with no obvious commissoning or evidence that any were actually played in his lifetime. I have no such trouble with any other major composer, where what is known of their personalities all fits quite well with their music. That's all I am saying, as I have absolutely no wish to stir up old sensitivities. I'm just adding my two-cents of opinion to what I perceive as lurking between the surface of some posts above, namely a degree of scepticsm.


Saphire
-----------------

Dear Saphire,

Of all people, you are not falling under the spell of Robert Newman?
As you know, according to Mr. Newman, the Italian gentleman who never published anything of any worth, composed both Mozart's and Haydn's music. He was also Beethoven's teacher who seems never to be mentioned in the literature. No Saphire, not YOU! :o

In his autobiography, Da Ponte tells us that Mozart composed the music
for The Marriage of Figaro in a matter of two weeks. The Linz Symphony was composed in a matter of days while Mozart and his wife rested on their jouney between Salzburg and Vienna. In his autobiography, Michael Kelly, Mozart's pupil tells us that Mozart composed while playing billiards then wrote it down as though it was business as usual. Mozart was just one "unusual bloke" :lol:

Although I do not support the theory that Mozart wrote in the style that Michael Kelly propounds, Mozart wrote Mozart and Haydn wrote Haydn.
May the Italian gentleman rest in peace!!!!! I bet he is kicking himself in his grave for not publishing HIS works himself. :D

As for Mozart's humour, if you would spend some time in Salzburg even today as I did for 6 solid weeks while researching my book, you would hear similar language spoken in restaurants and while you wait for the bus, you need never to be bored.
Humour varies from place to place and our Aussie humour varies
from the English humour quite considerably in spite of common roots.

Kind regards,
Agnes.

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Post by Sapphire » Mon Jan 22, 2007 4:01 am

Dear Agnes

Thank you for your comments. As I said, I am only in a state of “wondering”. I am making absolutely no claims at all, as I do not have the resources or inclination to do so.

To be honest, I do not know what to make of it for sure. Certainly, if I had to jump either way I would be far more in the “Mozart wrote it all camp”. However, if I am allowed a few doubts I have to admit I cannot dismiss all the counter-claims as being wildly invalid. Perhaps unlike many other posters here, who may have no idea what these counterclaims are except very superficially (and there is plenty of evidence of that), I have rather delved into them from a position of much scepticism.

That there were high quality composers who could have supplied Mozart with some of the material he is credited with seems clear. Look no further than Michael Haydn, for example, who, as you know, most probably actually wrote Symphony No 37. This man was also highly regarded by Schubert. I have listened many times to a lot of Mozart’s works – which I greatly admire - and I sometimes wonder whether they all flowed from the same pen. For example, there is a lot of variation in style and quality from Symphony 25 to 41. Those below 25 are weak in comparison. Similarly, there is a quantum leap in the quality of piano concertos from No 19 upwards. With other great composers, there is much more of a smooth transition and basic uniformity of style throughout their careers, at least to my ears. I am thinking for example of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler etc. In these cases, there is no doubt at all that they wrote everything credited to them, at the very least all the major works.

From my reading of that period in musical history (about 1760-1800) I rather have the impression (not proof) that there was “trading” going on, with little-known composers producing the core of works and selling them on to more illustrious masters who might only tinker at the margins in order to individualise them, and then pass them off as their own. Or possibly the opposite procedure might occasionally have taken place, where the master sketched out a rough plan and left it to various out-sourced “drones” to work it up, and so on in a back and forth manner. If this is true, it would result in a very confused trail, and it would be anybody’s guess as to who actually composed what, and who should take the main credit.

I do not find this "trafficking" idea bizarre or unlikely, as these days the World trades vastly in what are known as “semis” (semi-manufactured goods). There are factories producing the basic item, then they are passed on to others where they are individualised to suit customer requirements. I do not see why there might not have been a mini-18th century version of this phenomenon in the music market. It is exactly what might be expected to occur if the demand for such works should rise against a shortage of real talent to meet that demand. I am not suggesting anything as crude as Mozart passing off any works as his own that he had nothing to do with. The situation was probably far more complex than this.

A similar kind of thing actually happened in the studios of great artists, like Rembrandt, who had a small army of apprentices working around him. Often, the master never touched any of the works, they were so good, as the students knew exactly how to replicate the chosen style. In some cases, the master may only have spent a few hours touching up the details to give the work an extra twist. I am not suggesting that Mozart worked in the same physical way. In the case of music, I envisage the possibility of much more arms-length and casual kinds of arrangements, with the supplying “factories” possibly being some of the better composers having affiliations to some of the great chapels.

I think this is where these 18th century music researchers are getting into major difficulties, i.e. trying to unpick all this trafficking with little hard detail to go on, and are probably making a number of wrong or over-strong allegations because of the considerable complexities and gaps in information. I fully realise that several of the claims do not stack up. The notion that a great composer was prepared to lurk in the background, unnoticed, while he supplied high quality works for decades to more illustrious people is silly. But I think this view is now being modified, namely that there were several others who were involved in the supply chain.

As I stress, I have no proof of any of this year. They are mere hunches based on limited investigation. I hope I am wrong, but it would dishonest of me not to admit some doubts, given that this topic has been raised here, note not by me.

I would like to see all of these counter-claims properly set out in a decent book, and thoroughly debated.

Regards


Saphire

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Post by johnshade » Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:15 am

Saphire wrote:I would like to see all of these counter-claims properly set out in a decent book, and thoroughly debated.
The book I recommmend by Piero Melograni is an new (2007) biography of Mozart. Most of the facts quoted by the author are well documented from letters and other documents. After having read numerous books about Mozart, I am convinced that he is a genius who had the ability to compose the works attributed to him. Have you read Mozart: A Life by Maynard Solomon? Many consider this a well-documented biography of Mozart.

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Post by johnshade » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:21 pm

Agnes Selby, Author of Contanze Mozart's Beloved

I look forward to reading your book:

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Post by Niki » Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:29 pm

I find Mozart letters funny, wild and interseting. Nothing out of line for correspondence between witty close friends / family members. Many family /friends have their own particular jargon and Mozart is no exception.

I actually find some comments here a bit disturbing. I associate them with an acute case of political correctness - a social illness that took epidemic proprtions in this country in the last 2 decades.

Saphire wrote:

".... found myself wondering how such a scatological person ever managed to produce such a magnificent flow of works. The apologies and explanations above don't impress me at all. ......

...However, at the end of the day I'm still seriously wondering about Mozart. I want to believe that all of what he allegedly wrote is genuine, but the correlation between his music and personality doesn't stack up to me, given the type of personal rubbish he wrote, as quoted above...."

I find strong correlation between the guy that wrote those letters and the genius that composed the music. They are bound by the great freedom of spirit, wit and desire to engage in lively intercourse through their expression. I would go even furthere more and say that if you do not enjoy M letters I doubt you get all his music.

I am just wondering if no one here is enjoyinh farting jokes and the likes. I for one find them wildly amusing - and share them whenever I can with my close friends.

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Post by Teresa B » Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:01 pm

Niki wrote: I am just wondering if no one here is enjoyinh farting jokes and the likes. I for one find them wildly amusing - and share them whenever I can with my close friends.
My dad (a retired musician) knows a fab one involving an entire orchestra. 8) He and Wolfie would have gotten along great.

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Agnes Selby
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Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:47 pm

johnshade wrote:Agnes Selby, Author of Contanze Mozart's Beloved

I look forward to reading your book:

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----------------

Thank you John.

If you have difficulty in getting my book from Amazon please let me know. My American agent is no longer servicing my book with Amazon as he has returned to teaching beginning this semester.

Kind regards,
Agnes.
------------------------

Agnes Selby
Author of Constanze Mozart's biography
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Mozart

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:26 pm

Dear Saphire,

Your questions raise even more questions.

1)... Who were these good samaritans who helped Mozart overcome his lack of genius? Not one has come forward to claim Mozart's compositions as his own.

2)... What happened to the good samaritans after Mozart's death? Did they stop composing? New composers emerged, Beethoven, Ladislav Dussek, Josef Wolffl to mention but a few and even Sussmayr only claimed of having composed more of the Requiem than he actually did.

3)... Why did these geniuses not publish their own works? It would have been more profitable. Breitkopf & Hartel, Johann Anton Andre and other publishers were always looking for new composers. Without recordings and radio, the public was always looking for new compositions. Why did not these gifted good samaritans come forward and publish their own works?

Mozart did not have a studio where he taught pupils and watched over their compositional output. His was not a painter's studio. His pupils
such as Steven Storace, Michael Kelly who wrote about his experiences
with Mozart, Johann Nepomuk Hummel who lived with the Mozarts for a considerable period, none had ever mentioned that Mozart was supplied
with symphonies and concertos by impoverished composers.
Besides, what Mozart could have offered in payment for such works pales against what these composers could have earned from publishers.

With Mozart's death then, did the output by these composers also vanish?

No one ever thought of a little Italian Kappellmeister from Bonn
supplying his own compositions for Mozart to use as his own. Then towards the end of the last century, there appeared a proud Italian whose name I forget who appropriated Mozart's music for his Italian protege.
Robert Newman, always looking for the strange and wondrous, espoused the idea. Without proof of any kind, he has been the Italian gentleman's English mouthpiece for the past decade.

An ambitious kappellmeister under the protection of the Elector of Bonn could have easily published his own masterpieces. There was more reason for him to publish his own compositions than to supply either Mozart or Haydn with music.

Kind regards,
Agnes.

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:25 am

Dear Agnes

Thank you. As I trust you know, you are the last person I would wish to argue with, as I greatly respect your authority and knowledge on these matters.

I appreciate the validity of all the points made above. I do not believe most of the allegations either, some of which seem ludicrous. I never said that I did believe any of the detailed allegations. I still feel, however, that the broad thrust of these claims cannot be dismissed completely out of hand. These researchers clearly consider they have found a number of oddities and anomalies about Haydn’s and Mozart’s past that raise certain question marks about their credibility. In my experience there is not usually smoke without fire.

Based on my reading of their opinions, all I would say is that there could possibly have been a degree of reputation building, not because Mozart was not a genius but because he may not always have been able to cope with the demands upon him, and hence he may have found himself using some outsourced material which somehow (some inadvertently perhaps) got labelled as his work. I do not know the circumstances, the amounts involved, or the motivations, but that is my very uncertain rationalisation based on what I have read. Since the time a certain gentleman last posted here, there is a lot more to read if anyone is interested, but I’ll leave it up to them to find it and pursue it further they so wish.

I am most certainly NOT any kind of proponent of these views. Instead, I am merely a lay observer who is bemused by it all. Nor, I hope, can it be taken that I am gullible. I can assure you, and others, that I am very far from being like that. In fact, I am very much the opposite by nature. As explained, on this matter I started out with a few minor doubts and I was interested in seeing what these more recent views and evidence amounted to. I am still perplexed, sceptical and bewildered by some of the claims, as are most others who read them.

I really have nothing further to say on the subject, except that I remain less than totally convinced that these allegations are totally false.

Lastly, you will see that I have deliberately not mentioned anybody's name!

Regards


Saphire

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Post by Don Satz » Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:32 am

Saphire wrote:Dear Agnes


I am most certainly NOT any kind of proponent of these views. Instead, I am merely a lay observer who is bemused by it all. Nor, I hope, can it be taken that I am gullible. I can assure you, and others, that I am very far from being like that. In fact, I am very much the opposite by nature. As explained, on this matter I started out with a few minor doubts and I was interested in seeing what these more recent views and evidence amounted to. I am still perplexed, sceptical and bewildered by some of the claims, as are most others who read them.
Of course, you have the right to be skeptical, but you really have no idea that "most others" who have read the claims are also skeptical.
Don Satz

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