Thoughts on the Genius of Mozart
David Gordon spent many years on the opera and oratorio stages of the world. The Chicago Tribue called him "one of the world's great Bach tenors."
David is the author of The Little Bach Book, a unique look at Bach and daily life around him.
In the 1720s, Leipzig was a thriving city with a population of 30,000. What did the residents eat, drink, and wear? How did they bathe and cook? What fuels heated and illuminated their homes?
There are countless books about Bach and his music, but until now no book has described the details of daily life in Germany during Bach's lifetime.
For one moment in the history of music all opposites were reconciled; all tensions resolved; that luminous moment was Mozart.
Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music.
A phenomenon like Mozart remains an inexplicable thing.
Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined.
A light, bright, fine day this will remain throughout my whole life. As from afar, the magic notes of Mozart's music still gently haunts me.
Mozart is the musical Christ.
Mozart creates music from a mysterious center, and so knows the limits to the right and the left, above and below. He maintains moderation.
Mozart's music always sounds unburdened, effortless, and light. This is why it unburdens, releases, and liberates us.
Mozart's music is so beautiful as to entice angels down to earth.
(Franz Alexander von Kleist)
Mozart makes you believe in God because it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and leaves such an unbounded number of unparalleled masterpieces.
How can such a disproportionately large number of people have a definite, and unusually positive relationship to Mozart?
Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement.
Mozart's music is an invitation to the listener to venture just a little out of the sense of his own subjectivity.
Mozart never did too little and never too much; he always attains but never exceeds his goal.
Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters.
Mozart's mental grip never loosens; he never abandons himself to any one sense; even at his most ecstatic moments his mind is vigorous, alert, and on the wing. He dives unerringly on to his finest ideas like a bird of prey, and once an idea is seized he soars off again with an undiminished power.
(W. J. Turner)
It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart.
Mozart's music represents neither the prolonged sigh of faith that characterizes so much of the music written before his time, nor the stormy idealism which cloaks most music after him. Rather he is that mercurial balance of the skeptic and the humane. Like him, and in him, we can always discover new worlds.
Most wrote everything with such ease and speed as might at first be taken for carelessness or haste. His imagination held before him the whole work clear and lively once it was conceived. One seldom finds in his scores improved or erased passages.
The riddle of Mozart is precisely that "the man" refuses to be a key for solving it. In death, as in life, he conceals himself behind his work.
Mozart does not give the listener time to catch his breath, for no sooner is one inclined to reflect upon a beautiful inspiration than another appears, even more splendid, which drives away the first, and this continues on and on, so that in the end one is unable to retain any of these beauties in the memory.
(Karl Ditters von Dittersdordf)
Does it not seem as if Mozart's works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them?
If we cannot write with the beauty of Mozart, let us at least try to write with his purity.
Beethoven I take twice a week, Haydn four times, and Mozart every day!
Before Mozart, all ambition turns to despair.
Mozart encompasses the entire domain of musical creation, but I've got only the keyboard in my poor head.
What gives Bach and Mozart a place apart is that these two great composers never sacrificed form to expression. As high as their expression may soar, their musical form remains supreme and all-efficient.
The most tremendous genius raised Mozart above all masters, in all centuries and in all the arts.
In Bach, Beethoven and Wagner we admire principally the depth and energy of the human mind; in Mozart, the divine instinct.
Together with the puzzle, Mozart gives you the solution.
I find consolation and rest in Mozart's music, wherein he gives expression to that joy of life which was part of his sane and wholesome temperament.
Mozart tapped the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness.
Mozart's music is particularly difficult to perform. His admirable clarity exacts absolute cleanness: the slightest mistake in it stands out like black on white. It is music in which all the notes must be heard.
Mozart shows a creative power of such magnitude that one can virtually say that he tossed out of himself one great masterpiece after another.
Mozart's music is free of all exaggeration, of all sharp breaks and contradictions. The sun shines but does not blind, does not burn or consume. Heaven arches over the earth, but it does not weigh it down, it does not crush or devour it.
The works of Mozart may be easy to read, but they are very difficult to interpret. The least speck of dust spoils them. They are clear, transparent, and joyful as a spring, and not only those muddy pools which seem deep only because the bottom cannot be seen.
I never heard so much content in so short a period.
Mozart 's music is very mysterious.
(W. J. Turner)
Mozart resolved his emotions on a level that transformed them into moods uncontaminated by mortal anguish, enabling him to express the angelic anguish that is so peculiarly his own.
Designing an opera by Mozart is like doing something for God-it's a labor of love.
I my dreams of heaven, I always see the great Mozart gathered in a huge hall in which they are reside. Only Mozart has his own suite.
Mozart's joy is made of serenity, and a phrase of his music is like a calm thought; his simplicity is merely purity. It is a crystalline thing in which all the emotions play a role, but as if already celestially transposed. Moderation consists in feeling emotions as the angels do.
Mozart said profound things and at the same time remained flippant and lively.
Mozart began his works in childhood and a childlike quality lurked in his compositions until it dawned on him that the Requiem he was writing for s a stranger was his own.
(Will and Ariel Durant)
Mozart touched no problem without solving it to perfection.
Mozart's music is the mysterious language of a distant spiritual kingdom, whose marvelous accents echo in our inner being and arouse a higher, intensive life.
(E. T. A. Hoffmann)
The best of Mozart's works cannot be even slightly rewritten without diminishment.
Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it-that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed.
Most of all I admire Mozart's capacity to be both deep and rational, a combination often said to be impossible.
Sometimes the impact of Mozart's music is so immediate that the vision in the mind remains blurred and incomplete, while the soul seems to be directly invaded, drenched in wave upon wave of melancholy.
Mozart combined high formality and playfulness that delights as no other composition in any other medium does.
(Roy Blount, Jr.)
It is hard to think of another composer who so perfectly marries form and passion.
In Mozart's music, all intensity are crystallized in the clearest, the most beautifully balanced and proportioned, and altogether flawless musical forms.
The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to paly because of the quantity of notes; grown ups avoid him because of the quality of notes.
There are three thing in the world I love most: the sea, Hamlet, and Don Giovanni.
Lengthy immersion in the works of other composers can tire. The music of Mozart does not tire, and this is one of its miracles.
Mozart has reached the boundary gate of music and leaped over it, leaving behind the old masters and moderns, and posterity itself.
(A. Hyatt King)
Mozart, prodigal heaven gave thee everything, grace and strength, abundance and moderation, perfect equilibrium.
Who has reached the extreme limits of scale with the same infallible precision, equally guarded against the false refinement of artificial elegance and the roughness of spurious force? Who has better known how to breathe anguish and dread into the purest and most exquisite forms?
It is a real pleasure to see music so bright and spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and grace.
Give Mozart a fairy tale and he creates without effort an immortal masterpiece.
Mozart was able to do what he wished in music and he never wished to so what was beyond him.
I listened to the pure crystalline notes of one of Mozart's concertos dropping at my feet like leaves from the trees.
What was evident was that Mozart was simply transcribing music completely finished in his head. And finished as most music is never finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and structure would fall. I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink strokes at Absolute Beauty.
Mozart's music is constantly escaping from its frame, because it cannot be contained in it.
Mozart combines serenity, melancholy, and tragic intensity into one great lyric improvisation. Over it all hovers the greater spirit that is Mozart's-the spirit of compassion, of universal love, even of suffering--a spirit that knows no age, that belongs to all ages.
21 piano sonatas, 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, 18 masses, 13 operas, 9 oratorios and cantata, 2 ballets, 40 plus concertos for various instruments, string quartets, trios and quintets, violin and piano duets piano quartets, and the songs. This astounding output includes hardly one work less than a masterpiece.
What a picture of a better world you have given us, Mozart!
I compiled these in the early 1990s for an informal presentation. I have no citations for most of them and cannot verify their accuracy. - D.G.
The David Gordon Studio : Jacksonville, Oregon : www.spiritsound.com