Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 5:34:18 PM by Sheri German
On this day - Jan. 27 - in 1756 the man many musicologists call the most natural musical genius who ever lived was born. Today the whole world celebrates, and even a city such as Nashville, where country music is the genre of choice, will acknowledge Mozart's staggering contribution to music by playing his Piano Concerto #21. Vienna and Salzburg are celebrating with lots of parties and events, and have a Web site dedicated to Mozart 2006. Even as I type, I am listening to Mozart's 1st Violin Concerto over the Internet on WGMS.
What do I prefer most in Mozart's oeuvre? His operas. There are other composers I love as least as much, but no composer, none at all, wrote as gloriously for the human voice.
Several years ago when we decided to take the kids to their first opera, it was Mozart's Magic Flute that we chose. Not openly opposed, but probably not overly enthusiastic accomplices in this idea either (our son was no doubt calculating how many video games he could have purchased for the price of his ticket alone), the kids nonetheless tagged along with us to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House where our son's viola teacher was playing in the orchestra pit. What a wonderful experience it turned out to be! The kids had to agree with The Baltimore Lyric Opera House's recent radio ad campaign that ended with the tagline "Opera: better than you think - it has to be..." The Lyric went all out to make the opera accessible to kids, right down to a big, comical, purple dragon. There was the excitement of the opening overture, the anticipation over whether the Queen of the Night was going to make her high C's or not (well, she mostly made them), and the sheer fun of the interactions between Papageno and Papagena. And through it all was the most divine music.
Do something to celebrate Mozart's birthday today - even if you prefer some other kind of music. Join in the fun by taking The Mozart Quiz. Listen to 10 musical exerpts and decide which were written by Mozart. Post here and let me know how you did. You'll do better than you think - you have to. ;-)
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mozart!
Category tags: Music
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006 8:05:28 AM by Sheri German
Amid the news of Sharon returning to the operating room and the one surviving miner still in a coma, the tragedy of classical music doesn't seem like much of a story. Still, when I turned to WGMS on my car radio the other day, the Washington D.C. metropolitan area's only commercial classical station was no longer there. It had been replaced with an all news station, WTOP. The Washington Post carried the story on the next day's front page: WGMS is still breathing, but barely. Bonneville, the company that owns it (along with its replacement WTOP), moved it to a weaker signal that most listeners outside the city proper itself will have trouble getting. We can all guess what will happen next unless another company buys it.
I posted here last year when WETA, the NPR station that used to carry classical music, switched to an all-talk format. (The reports suggest that this has not been wildly popular-not that I am gloating too much.) I am now left with one NPR station, WBJC in Baltimore, that carries classical music with a signal strong enough for me to hear it. Think of it: a major metropolitan area cannot support classical music. What does that suggest for less urban localities?
As we drove to New Jersey during the Thanksgiving holidays, we heard a discussion with a pianist about the state of classical music. The pianist talked about "the tragedy of classical music" and how it is something that is perpetuated in part by well-meaning music teachers. They convey the idea that one needs special knowledge and training in order to appreciate classical music, when all you really need is feeling.
Do I listen to classical music and blurt out "Aha! An augmented sixth chord! Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!" On occasion. But usually I am just trying to absorb the emotional meaning of a piece, something that is available to anyone with an open mind and a little sensitivity to beauty through sound.
Though I wish the unfortunate misconceptions about classical music would abate, I doubt anything much will stem the trend towards abolishing anything that is not part of mass pop culture. Now even our NPR stations, which originally were intended to take up where the Darwinism of capitalism left off, are abdicating their role.
Now all I can do is pray that WBJC hangs in there.
Category tags: Music