The other day, while one of our January series of Mozart's Piano Concertos played on WFCR, I took a call in the studio from a gentleman with a question. "Why, with so much other great music, are you boring your listeners with all these Mozart Concertos?"
Whoa! There was a question I never expected to be asked. After all, even in the notoriously contentious world of classical music, if there was one thing I thought everyone could agree on, it was Mozart. But I've also learned the hard way over the years never to take anything so thoroughly for granted that it can't be justified if challenged. So I was prepared. Why Mozart? Why all the Concertos? Let me tell you.
Because no other composer or body of works better exemplifies what classical music is about and what we love it. That may sound a stretch, given the enormous range of eras, styles, sounds and functions of the music that gets stuck in the classical bin, however well or poorly it fits. But think about it, perhaps as you listen to a Mozart Piano Concerto (there are lots of 'em on Spotify, Rhapsody and YouTube, if you don't have any in your collection). What do you hear?
Elegant formal design, bespeaking a well-developed tradition. Attractive, singable melodies, developed in myriad ways. Expressive, wide-ranging harmonic movement. Complex interplay among the performing forces, especially between soloist and orchestra. A veritable rainbow of moods, from humor to pathos. And all these qualities and others in perfect balance. In works that sound both familiar and novel. That entertain and enlighten, but don't overwhelm. And which at the end leave the listener feeling a little happier to be alive and able to hear such music, and wanting to hear some more. Which we'll present the next weekday during the noon hour on WFCR. Why Mozart? Why Louis Armstrong? Why Shakespeare? Why baseball? Why a good meal, a good glass of wine, a good laugh, a good hug? Because, if you don't mind me going all Oprah on you, they remind us that, despite all the grief and pain we suffer through, life is worth living and worth enjoying. Every day. Happy birthday, Mozart!