Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

"Prima la Musica, O le Parole?": A Web of Words to Surround Mozart's Music

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

"Prima la Musica, O le Parole?": A Web of Words to Surround Mozart's Music

Article excerpt

"Mein herz ist volig entzucket, aus lauter vergnugen, weil mir auf dieser reise so lustig ist ..." Wolfgang's first letter from his first Italian journey 14 December 1769 (2)

Questions at the Outset

A paraphrase on the famous title of Salieri's "divertimento teatrale" (3) from 1786 provides the starting point for a reflection on this monumental project concerning Mozart's correspondence. What arguments can justify an international project that concentrates such energies on the words of a composer, as opposed to his sounds, especially where everywhere in the cultural world resources for primary aims are scant, and becoming scantier, almost by the day?

Of course, it seems unnecessary to convince musicologically-aware readers of the fact that the preservation, updating, and enrichment of sources is an indisputably legitimate concern; but when precedence implies the exclusion of other options for a significant amount of time, is it appropriate to prioritize an in-depth commitment to a relatively small body of correspondence over the bulk availability of other, perhaps more broad-ranging, reference materials? That is, to place relatively expensive quality above more affordable quantity?

The European Mozart Ways: studying, updating, promoting Mozart's travels

Supporting such an ambitious venture with rare and new features is the choice of the European Mozart Ways (EMW), an international network with over 50 diverse members in the 10 countries (4) visited by Mozart during the travels that spanned over half of his concentrated life. The activities of the EMW are presented in the web portal, currently in English and German, and soon to be extended to the other two official languages (Italian and French) within the framework of the EU-funded project "Mozart and Italy--Modern Reflections of Intercultural Dialogue in the 18th Century" (June 2009-2011).

The Statutes of the EMW identify these aims: increasing the availability of authentic documentation on Mozart's travels, expanding related knowledge through research, fostering cooperation between Member cities and institutions on selected touristic, performance and education projects, and disseminating all relevant information and results to the (general and/or specialized) public. (5)

The EMW's mission is officially sanctioned by their recognition as a "Major Cultural Route" in the Council of Europe's dedicated program (6) (to which no financial support is attached, alas), and their certification, awarded early on and recently confirmed, is a further encouragement towards the realization of projects in the selected areas of touristic enhancement, artistic performance, and academic research, as well as the education of young musicians and children.

Within this compass of eclectic tasks, "In Mozart's Words" meets the challenges outlined above. The role of the EMW in the project, which we wish to present as a springboard for further developments, is that of pioneer and catalyst for the acquisition of resources. If priority was bestowed on this venture rather than on other no less worthy endeavours, it is because several partial interests were able uniquely to focus on several promising possibilities and multiply their outcomes. Our hope is that such concentration of energies can and will bring the complete project to fruition.

Weaving a Web of Basic Support

"You must keep all the letters", wrote wise Leopold to his wife (7) in a letter shortly after the one quoted in exergo: keep them as documentation, as sources, as nutshells for the further sharing of detailed information when constraints of space and time are overcome by the freedom of narrating in person, once returned home. Keeping the letters, and adding to them, is the sense and the aim of this work in progress, as described in the papers above by Cliff Eisen and Patrizia Rebulla.

The weaving of the web started, not surprisingly, with the 2006 Jubilee, as the Italian Ministry of Culture decided to endow a "National Committee" for the celebrations: "Le Vie italiane di Mozart"--the Italian Mozart Ways--had the purpose of highlighting the "places, music, musicians, personalities, and cultures encountered by the composer in his Italian journeys". …

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