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Wolfgang Amadé Mozart

Undeserved Gift to Humanity

Constantin Floros

Mozart’s ambivalent personality offers a key to a deeper understanding of his music. He could be merry, even boisterous, but from many of his works speaks a deep seriousness. Both mirth and melancholy stamp his being. His operatic music includes both the comic and the tragic. The present study treats the special character of his musical language and the relations between his personality and his multiform oeuvre. Its mission is to grasp the peculiarities of his operatic work, his opere serie, opere buffe and singspiels. The chapter "The Program in the Master Overtures" initiates the series of semantic analyses the author has pursued in other books. In the 19th century, it was fashionable to compare Mozart to Raffael. But the comparison is askew, as the graceful is only one side of his personality.

About the German edition

Chapter II "presents new and even surprising insights into the ‘program’ in Mozart’s master overtures. The connection between overture and drama is viewed from both compositional and semantic points of view. The studies, written with great stylistic and literary knowledge, enter deep into Mozart’s way of working. For both amateurs and cognoscenti, Floros achieves ad better understanding, above all, of the musical interconnections." (Rudolf Angermüller, Mitteilungen des Mozarteums)

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XII Epilogue: Mozart and We


Mozart shares the fate of many persons of genius in being ahead of his time and thus not always understood by his contemporaries, whom he overtaxed with his complex art. There is the famous story according to which the Emperor Joseph II exclaimed after the premiere of the Abduction from the Seraglio: “Too beautiful for our ears and awfully many notes, dear Mozart!” to which the composer replied: “Exactly as many notes, Your Majesty, as are needed.” When he was working on his Idomeneo in December of 1780, his father admonished him not to forget the “popolare, which also tickles the long ears.”1 Mozart reassured him he should not worry about that, “for in my opera there is music for all kinds of people, – except for long ears.”2 Today, to be sure, even Mozart’s most demanding works, such as the famous six string quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn, hardly present any difficulties to the experienced listener, although a right understanding of the music still presupposes, besides repeated listening, a grasp of the structure, a study of the composer’s tonal language, and the ability to distinguish between various genres and musical characters.3

Mozart was a good psychologist, he thought long and hard about the psychological character of the figures in his operas (leaving it open whether he was lacking in his judgment of human nature, as Hildesheimer thought4). He knew about the soul’s abysses, though he did not like the extreme, unmeasured, and exaggerated. His...

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