A Contemporary American Composer Calls Mozart "The Most Overrated Composer Of All Time "
There's an interesting discussion at a classical music forum I belong to called classicalmusicguide.com today . A member started a thread about American composer Arnold Rosner ( 1945-) , who teaches at Queensborough community college of the City University Of New York , who has called Mozart, probably the most universally adored composer of all time, vastly overrated . In fact, Rosner thinks he's the most overrated composer of all time .
Of course, to his countless admirers today , this is absolute heresy , and is enough to make their blood pressure rise to stroke-inducing levels . Blasphemy . Wolfgang friggin' Amadeus Mozart ? The divine Mozart ? How dare he ? The incomprehensible musical genius and astonishing child prodigy who began composing as a small boy , had a perfect ear and astonishing mastery of the art of composition from such an early age , not to mention piano virtuoso of the highest rank and a violin virtuoso to boot ? The boy wonder composer who matured into a supreme master who wrote sublime masterpieces in every musical form ? Some of the greatest operas, symphonies, concertos, chamber works, and choral works ever written, and one of the most frequently performed and recorded composers of all time ? And who died at the tragically early age of 35 yet still wrote over 500 works and departed this world leaving who knows how many great works unwritten ?
However, Rosner is not alone . Even the greatest geniuses have their detractors , and the legendary eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould actually called Mozart a "bad ocmposer who died too late rather than too early ". Which did not prevent him from making some renowned but eccentric recordings of some of Mozart''s piano sonatas . And the once famous English composer Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934) said that he considered any musician who admired Mozart to be a bad musician .
Oh well, there's no accounting for tastes . On the forum, the reaction to Rosner's provocative statements ranges from outrage to agreement . But Mozart has been idolized by such great names as Schubert, Chopin, Tchaikovsky , Rossini, Wagner, Richard Strauss and so many other great composers, not to mention such great performers as pianists Artur Schnabel, Vladimir Horowitz, and renowned conductors such as George Szell Sir Thomas Beecham, Bruno Walter, Sir Georg Solti, and countless others .
Of course, fulsome praise of any one can become annoying , and not everything Mozart wrote is a sublime masterpiece . Everything he wrote is the product of impeccable technical skill and craftsmanship , but his earlier works do not come anywhere near the greatness of the mature ones, even though they show astonishing talent for someone that young . He wrote to please his audiences , and often this included writing plleasant diversions for European aristocrats who liked to have nice music to accompany their meals . Many of these works are clalled Divertisments and serenades, including the famous "Eine Kleine Nachtmusic ", which contrary to popular belief does not mean a little night music in the sense of a little bit of nice music for the evening, but a little serenade . Nachtmusik being the German equivalent of serenade .
Bu at their best, Mozart's works are indeed sublime masterpieces . How could any one belittle such miracles as the operas Don Giovanni, Le nozze Di Figaro, The Magic Flute, the last three out of 41 numbered symphonies , the greatest of his 27 piano concertos, the clarinet concerto, the Requiem, which was left unfinished at his untimely death and completed by a pupil , to name only some ?
You don't achieve 250 years of lasting popularity by being a mediocrity . Maybe Arnold Rosner is merely being guilty of envy and sour grapes .