Mozart Heresy

>> Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm not the kind of person who accepts things at face value, nor am I one to accept an idea, concept, or belief simply because it is the most accepted, most popular, the latest trend, or the one that so-called experts agree upon. In fact, if the truth be known, I am probably most likely to stand on the side of the least popular theory, idea, or concept because I have learned from experience that generally the most popular or widely accepted belief is most likely the one that is in error. This has played out in most areas in my life, including my personal studies and beliefs about Mozart.

Among Mozart "fanatics" I'm not generally very popular. I believe things about Mozart and about his personal life that are, for the most part, controversial, but in my opinion make better sense within the context of his life than some of the more popular thoughts and ideas. For instance, a lot of folks place tremendous stock in the Mozart letters and the things that Mozart wrote to his father, his sister, and his wife. I do not. Why? Because study has revealed in many instances that what Mozart wrote in those letters, especially to his father, was not necessarily the case. In other words, Mozart lied. He told Leopold things that he knew Leopold wanted to hear. And if he did this with Leopold, he most likely did it with others, including his wife. Much of the devotion and undying affection we read in his letters to Constanze, (during her long stays at the spa in Baden), are actually pleas to her to act kindly towards him, begging her to be more careful with her reputation, not to be so easy to comply (towards the advances of other men?), and to "love me half as much as I love you." In one sentence he tells her how desperately he misses her yet only a few sentences later he encourages her to stay at the spa longer, despite the longer separation and the cost. One gets the impression that he is in no hurry to have her back home, and that his overtures of undying affection are merely attempts to appease her and to keep her from suspicion.

Mozart was very much an enigma: an idealistic, playful, and at times, even childish man, who suffered with periods of black depression, ill health, poor finances, and frustration over the limitations placed upon him by those in authority over him. He was a lover of women, and not in the misogynistic or sexist sense of the word. Mozart had a tremendous respect for women, and an idealistic view of marriage, yet at the same time, I believe that he had a less than happy marriage, and that in the latter years of his life the relationship between he and Constanze was quite troubled. It is my opinion that most of the trouble between them began when he met Anna Storace, the singer for whom he and Lorenzo DaPonte created the role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. I side with the late, great Mozart historian, Alfred Einstein, concerning Mozart's feelings for and relationship with Anna Storace, (called "Nancy" by those closest to her). Einstein believed that Mozart was in love with her and that the concert aria that he composed for her as a farewell gift in 1787, (Ch'io mi scordi di te...Non temer amato bene, K. 505), was actually a love letter set to music, an idea that has been met with much criticism in the last few years, especially by those who have joined the crusade to rescue Constanze from her maligned reputation.

I find that when I'm in a group of "Mozarteans", it is best that I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself, unless, that is, I'm in the mood for a heated argument. But those who know me best know that I'm not afraid to embrace heretical thought be it religion or Mozart, and this is my blog, and here my opinion rules.

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