Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mo' Show!

    The orchestra in which I perform is preparing for the upcoming all-Mozart (Mo) concert.  We are playing Symphony no.  31, Symphony no.  41 (The Jupiter), and Piano Concerto in C (KV 503).  It's going to be a great concert! 

     We musicians are going to really earn our paychecks on this one!  It takes a lot of focus to play Mozart.  He is one of those composers who writes deceptively difficult music.  At first glance, it looks pretty simple and straight forward.  It's only when you start to play it that you realize it doesn't always lie well on the instrument, or the tempo is at that awkward stage where it's too fast to single tongue but too slow to double tongue.  (Darn you, Mo!  I know you did that on purpose.)  Also, Mozart's music is very transparently orchestrated.  You feel very exposed (naked even) when playing his music.  Your technique has to be very clean.  Almost every musician I know is uncomfortable playing a Mozart piece.  ...and we have 3 of them to do on this concert!  I am super lucky to be playing with musicians who can handle it.  (No pun intended. ;-))  Even though (or maybe because) it's uncomfortable music to play, it's also very fun music to play.  The last movement of the Jupiter is exhilarating!  (...and will leave the audience asking for Mo'!)

    Don't get me wrong.  Mozart is an amazing composer, no doubt about it!  I just happen to have a bit of an irreverent view of good 'ol Mo.  Back in the day, he was touted as the child prodigy genius.  Certainly, he had a huge amount of talent.  However, I always wonder how much his daddy helped him out.  Leopold Mozart was a musician himself, and he knew a thing or two about show biz.  He promoted his son and made a pretty penny for himself in the process.  When they say little Wolfi wrote his first symphony at age 5, I wonder how much he came up with himself.  Surely, Daddy Leo had some suggestions for his son, don't you think?  Also, Leopold was an okay composer.  He knew that his pieces wouldn't be impressive if he said he wrote them.  Now, what if he said his 5-year-old son wrote them?  Suddenly, a decent piece would become crazy impressive!  (I'm not saying that's what he did, but come on.  It sure is possible, isn't it?) 

     Mozart also knew how to please an audience himself.  Today, our conductor read an excerpt of a letter which Mo wrote to his father about Symphony 31.  He says that he put in a section in the exposition which he KNEW would please the audience.  In fact, he knew they'd like it so much that he brought it back a second time later in the piece.  We don't think about Mozart (the worshipped diety of Classical music) as being an audience-pleaser, but there you are.  Mo knew how to put on a show too!


  1. i just started dusting off the oboe quartet for an upcoming performance. it never gets easier but it sure is fun to play!

  2. Love the quartet! I think it's a way better piece than the concerto.

  3. Love Mozart. Especially the oboe concerto, first movement.

  4. I think my view of the oboe concerto is tainted by the ghosts of bad teachers past. :P