By Friedrich Kerst.
The German composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was not only a musical genius, but was also one of the pre-eminent geniuses of the Western world. He defined in his music a system of musical thought and an entire state of mind that were unlike any previously experienced. A true child prodigy, he began composing at age 5 and rapidly developed his unmistakable style; by 18 he was composing works capable of altering the mind-states of entire civilizations. Indeed, he and his predecessor Bach accomplished the Olympian feat of adding to the human concepts of civility and civilization. So these two were not just musical geniuses, but geniuses of the humanities.
Mozart’s music is civilization. It encompasses all that is humane about an idealized civilization. And it probably was Mozart’s main purpose to create and propagate a concept of a great civilization through his music. He wanted to show his fellow Europeans, with their garbage-polluted city streets, their violent mono-maniacal leaders and their stifling, non-humane bureaucracies, new ideas on how to run their civilizations properly. He wanted them to hear and feel a sense of civilized movement, of the musical expressions of man moving as he would if upholding the highest values of idealized societies. One need only listen to the revolutionary opening bars of his famous Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to see this.
He was an extremely sophisticated and complex man. His letters reveal him as remarkably creative, fascinated by the arts, principled, religious and devoted to his father. He had an energetic personality that was almost completely devoid of any cynicism, pessimism or discouragement from creating music. While rumors suggest that he was a lascivious individual, there is no evidence of this at all in his letters. Quite the contrary, the evidence seems overwhelmingly to suggest the opposite, and that Mozart may not have had any relations with women except with his own wife.
He was not as shrewd as he was civilized, however. He was peculiarly lax about profiting from his history-changing music. His promoters constantly short-changed him.
He died nearly penniless and in debt, and at his death at age 35 an apathetic public took little notice of this man who had done so much in service to civilization. He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave with few mourners. After his death, the bones of this great paragon of self-sacrifice for the sake of improving civilization were dug up and disposed of. His grave was then reused, and to this day no one knows where his bones lie. Perhaps they are in a catacomb somewhere, in a huge bone-pile containing thousands of anonymous cadavers.
But the sounds he heard in his head live on, stimulating millions in elevators, doctors’ offices, train terminals, concert halls and myriad other places to be more civilized, assuming that they pay attention to the music.
This is taken from Mozart, the Man and the Artist.
Copyright © Daniel McAdam· All Rights Reserved