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Mozart - Most Overated Composer Of All Time ?

  There's an interesting discussion at  a classical music forum I belong to  called  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 .


Posted: Jul 23 2012, 10:51 PM by the horn | with no comments
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