Mozart.com - Official Host for Mozarts 250th Birthday. Mozart's 250th birthday! Can you believe the impact he has had. If a single person can make such an impact that 250 years after his birth, we still celebrate him with such enthusiasm, you know he got something right.
Mozart is one of my all time favourite composers. The Marriage of Figaro gives me enormous pleasure every time I hear it, and the only CD I have ever worn out was a collection of Tanze and Lendlers by Mozart that I used to study to. I have never found another like it, that I can work with. Without that one, I have to study in silence. It's really easy to celebrate a person like Mozart.
On the other hand, Alex Ross posted this, suggesting that spending so much time and energy on Mozart birthday celebrations may be wasting an opportunity. Mozart may have been the first free-lance composer. Unlike other musicians of his generation, he did not spend his entire life working for a patron, but earned a (often meagre) living independently. The amount of money that has been spent on Mozart since his death seems obscene when one considers that he died in a poor-house. Ross suggests that the best way to honour Mozart is to spend time and energy on living composers. A dear composer friend of mine would appreciate that. Greg Sandow seems to agree, though he is a little more pessimistic in this post. I certainly understand the concern that classical music culture may be under threat, but I also think that high-quality contemporary musicians are automatically drawing on the music that forms their cultural background. It is impossible for a musician to exist in a musical vaccuum, where no exposure to other music has happened, and no matter how much one aims for innovation, previous influence always comes into play. And thank goodness for that! wouldn't it be aweful if every person had to reinvent the wheel in their life-time. We as a species would get nowhere.
This link (found via Colleen Doran's blog, thank you, Colleen) addresses a recent documentary that suggests that Mozart's supposed 'genius' may have had more to do with hard work than tallent. While such a suggestion would undoubtedly cause some purists to object, I can't help feeling that thinking about the composer in this way affords him more dignity and consideration that the conventional suggestion that he was "tallented." Tallent suggests that it comes easy. Well, if it does, it's because there is a lot of hard work in the background. I have never liked the idea of tallent, because it suggests restriction. Thinking of ability as the product of hard work makes it a possibility open to anyone. Not that we could all become Mozarts, mind, but rather that we can achieve what we set our minds to, so long as we are really prepared to make the effort. And the effort involves exposure to the best of what else is out there.