The Mozart Companion

The Mozart Companion

The Mozart Companion

The Mozart Companion

Excerpt

An obvious defect of a symposium is its lack of unity. Yet with some composers the very variety of a symposial approach may prove both appropriate and beneficial. Such a composer is surely Mozart, who, of all the great composers, offers not only a very wide range of expression, a range which includes the strongest contrasts of styles and feelings (often within the confines of a single work), but expressed himself in an almost bewildering number of forms, all of which (church music excepted), whether the piano concerto, opera -- seria or buffa -- the quartet (or, more especially, the quintet), the symphony, the serenade -- he developed to a quite exceptional degree of perfection. Mozar t's extraordinary versatility, the case with which he worked in the various media (though we must not underestimate how hard he worked at crucial junctures to make things sound 'easy'), makes it almost impossible for one commentator satisfyingly to treat of his work as a whole. The picture of the whole Mozart is too complex in extent and content -- too enigmatic, one might say -- for one mind to comprehend the total unity which exists behind the dazzling variety. The late Dr. Alfred Einstein, to whom this book is gratefully dedicated, came wonderfully near catching Mozart's essential spirit in a very compressed space; yet much detail was inevitably lacking, particularly in his discussion of the music, and perhaps not every facet of Mozart's personality was revealed. One really needs the possibility of three life-spans, the opportunity to adopt half-a-dozen personalities, before arriving at a complete understanding of Mozart's legacy. One needs something of Mozart's own facility for assuming the characters of his dramatis personae. Mozart himself presents a complex ensemble of styles, moods, characterizations and media; no sooner does he penetrate the depths of one role than he moves on to explore the features of another. Here the tragical, there the comic; the humorous or satirical; farce or wit; serenity or terror; the magical or mundane; the mystical or rational; the chaste or passionate: the list is endless, and more often than not the 'opposites' are inextricably combined (as in the operas) or immediately juxtaposed (as in the instrumental music). It is simple enough to pin down one mood, or to distinguish between two . . .

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