Every morning on my way to work, I have a chance to listen to some beautiful music. Sometimes it is my own selection, but most often I ride along with our local public station, KNPR. This morning, I was listening to Mozart, a symphony, an earlier work. Generally, I know my Mozart, and can mentally follow along with the music, but sometimes, I think it might be his work, but I’m not sure. And just when I say to myself, no, this is not Wolfgang, the announcer comes on and says, “That was Mozart’s Symphony 24 in B flat major!”
Ah! I’ve been fooled! I suppose it’s because each composer over time develops his sound! In their earlier works, they are laying down riffs, patterns, chords, sequences that begin to work for them. In later works, they count on some of these to express the mood, to round out the story. A indelible signature, like a painter’s brush strokes…Van Gogh’s squiggly lines, Hieronymous Bosch’s tight detail, Picasso’s geometry, a Turner sky.
Today, by the way, Mozart was in Bologna, in 1770, with his father. In a letter from his father Leopold to his mother Anna Maria, Wolfgang writes a postscript that is kind of fun. He was a tourist, like any other, enjoying the different things around him, giving his impressions of people he met along the way. I'm glad he was having a good time. Most often, when he was traveling, he was working, on tour, trying to get a commission. He was 14 at the time, and writes,
I too am still in the land of the living and, what`s more, having lots of fun. Today I was suddenly seized by the desire to ride on a donkey, as is the custom in Italy, and so I thought I should give it a try. We have the honor of going everywhere with a certain Dominican who`s regarded as a saint, though I don`t really believe it as he often has a cup of drinking chocolate for breakfast and immediately afterwards a good glass of fortified Spanish wine, and I too have had the honor of dining with this saint, who at table drank lots of wine, finishing it all off with a whole glass of fortified wine, two large slices of melon, some peaches, pears, 5 cups of coffee, a whole plate of birds and two full plates of milk and lemon; he may have done this on purpose, but I don`t think so, as it would have been too much, apart from which he also eats a lot for his tea during the afternoon. Addio. Farewell: kiss Mama's hands for me. Best wishes to all who know me.