"The history of Music as of Man
Will not go cancrizans, and no ear can
Recall what, when the Archduke Francis reigned,
Was heard by ears whose treasure-hoard contained
A Flute already but as yet no Ring;
Each age has its own mode of listening.
We know the Mozart of our fathers' time
Was gay, rococo, sweet, but not sublime,
A Viennese Italian; that is changed
Since music critics learned to feel 'estranged';
Now it's the Germans he is classed amongst,
A Geist whose music was composed from Angst,
At International Festivals enjoys
An equal status with the Twelve-Tone Boys;
He awes the lovely and the very rich,
And even those Divertimenti which
He wrote to play while bottles were uncorked,
Milord chewed noisily, Milady talked,
Are heard in solemn silence, score on knees,
Like quartets by the deafest of the B's."
"We who know nothing - which is just as well -
About the future, can, at least, foretell,
Whether they live in air-borne nylon cubes,
Practise group marriage or are fed through tubes,
That crowds two centuries from now will press
(Absurd their hair, ridiculous their dress)
And pay in currencies, however wierd,
To hear Sarastro booming through his beard,
Sharp connoisseurs approve if it is clean
The F in alt of the Nocturnal Queen,
Some uncouth creature from the Bronx amaze
Park Avenue by knowing all the K's.
How seemly, then, to celebrate the birth
Of one who did no harm to our poor earth,
Created masterpieces by the dozen,
Indulged in toilet humour with his cousin,
And had a pauper's funeral in the rain,
The like of whom we shall not see again;"
- W. H. Auden, from 'Metalogue to the Magic Flute' (Lines composed on the occassion of Mozart's Bicentennial in 1956)
There are some occasions that demand more eloquence than I am capable of, occasions that even Auden is barely equal to. Today is one such occasion. It's Mozart's 250th Birth Anniversary.
What can one say about Mozart? How can one even begin to express a fraction of how brilliant he was, how overwhelmingly beautiful his music still is? It would be like describing, wave by wave, the sea.
Let me say only that I am still awed the sheer breadth of Mozart's genius, by his ability to span every genre of Western Classical Music and contribute masterpieces to all of them. Let me say only that today, eleven years after I bought my first recording of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, I am still amazed by the thrilling richness of Mozart's sound - by the way he manages to be both gloriously sublime and pleasantly listen-able. Let me say only that there is no one I would trust to lift my spirits the way I trust Mozart.
Let me say only that Mozart is the closest thing to God that I know or am willing to have faith in.
Happy Birthday Wolfgang! My only regret is that I won't be around 250 years from now, to hear your music still being played.
Categories: Arts, Poetry