Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Wolfie!

Perhaps one of the most important dates in Musical History is January 27th, the day that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born! We celebrate his birthday once again today! He, or rather his music, is 256 years old! And what a catalogue of the finest music ever written! He wrote symphonies, concertos, sonatas, opera, chamber music, choral music, church music; he wrote for piano, violin, strings, wind; over 600 pieces of glorious sound!

A child prodigy, he grew up in Salzburg, Austria and was proficient on the piano and violin by age five, and by age 17, he was engaged as court musician and composing for the King! Though he only lived to be 36, his music has endured. He did not die as depicted in the ever-popular movie Amadeus; that makes for great entertainment (artistic license allowed!). He was a cup-half-full type of person, enthusiastic, energetic, hopeful. He did have his ups and downs, personally and professionally, but he continued to write, lucky for us! His work was not adversely effected, in fact, perhaps his troubles and triumphs are the ingredients that give his music such richness, humanity, brilliance!

Fortunately, his music is catalogued thanks to Ludwig von Kochel, with each piece labelled with a K or KV numbering system. For example, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor was, according to Köchel's counting, the 626th piece Mozart composed. Thus, the piece is designated K. 626 or KV 626. Köchel catalogue numbers not only attempt to establish chronology, but also give a helpful shorthand to refer to Mozart's works.

Every year, for years now, I celebrate this special day, with the purchase of a book on Wolfgang, or some of his music that I do not currently own. My collection of word and sound is quite extensive now. This year I purchased his Piano Concerto #16, a mature work, full of depth and charm. It is exhilerating!

Other years I have had parties with German food and powdered wigs! And sacher torte thrown in! It's a happy excuse to have a gathering, but honestly, I love his music, party or no. I honor this day, as do so many others. Check out some beautiful quotes about him and his music:

O Mozart, immortal Mozart, how many, how infinitely many inspiring suggestions of a finer, better life have you left in our souls! -- Franz Schubert, Diary, 1816

Mozart’s music is so beautiful as to entice angels down to earth. (Franz Alexander von Kleist)

Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music. (Tchaikovsky)

Mozart’s music is the mysterious language of a distant spiritual kingdom, whose marvelous accents echo in our inner being and arouse a higher, intensive life. (E. T. A. Hoffmann)

My candlelight "Happy Birthday, Wolfie" breakfast mit Sacher Torte und cafe!

So, there it is, what more can one say!

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