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Friday, March 7, 2014

Our March After-the-News-at-Noon series.

This month, after the news at noon, our series is: 
Mozart in His Own Words.
We're pairing quotes from the letters and notes of Mozart with historical information on the musicians he mentions, and musical selections referred to in the quotes. 

Our resource for the quotes is a marvelous book first published in 1926 - featuring researched selected quotes from Mozart's letters.   We have augmented this primary resource with biographical information from a variety of on-line music history sources.  The book is divided into sections by topic.  Among other things it is fascinating to discover that Mozart was quite a prude in matters regarding marriage, family, morals and ethics.   This revelation is quite at odds with the popular presentation (due largely to the play Amadeus) of Mozart as a rough-housing gad-about flippant playboy.

The Man and the Artist Revealed
In His Own Words
Compiled and annotated by
Friedrich Kerst
Translated and edited by
Henry Krehbiel

Dover Press 1965
1st Published by Geoffry Bles, London 1926

for more information and to purchase book

For anyone interested in a glimpse of the inner workings of the genius, his thoughts on other musicians of his day (including his jealousies, rivalries and admirations), and a good deal of his personal judgements on social and political issues - it's a juicy, salacious read, like reading a diary.  This is a very slim volume, light reading for one or two bedtimes.

From the standpoint of a musician practicing his works, there is not much here to give you insights into how he wants his music played, except for one or two comments about, say, pace of a minuet; but there is just enough here to be contradictory, and in these instances, the commentary by the translator seems to infer the opposite meaning from the translation.  So while there is no particular revelation about musical interpretation, what we do have here is a varied array over time of the thoughts of the man... and knowing his tastes can help a good musician get inside his thought process, and that is good for musical color, which helps any performance.

This is a book that has been sitting on our WSCL library shelf for many years, and I had overlooked it for quite a while.  It is one that I will definitely revisit again over time when this series is over, and definitely worth a read for anyone who just can't get enough Mozart!

Thanks again to our S.U. practicum, Jennifer Reeves who was my research assistant on this series, sorting out the more interesting and revealing (or amusing) writings from the less interesting, and compiling them for use.
Kara Dahl Russell

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