ahhhh... mozart
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    why mozart doesn't need to be heard.

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  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 156
    I KNEW it was going to be this lecture...
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  • Very good and pointed examples from Mr. Gould, musically I agree with him, Mozart's earlier works are more satisfying. However, for me my two favorites are G.F. Handel, and J.S. Bach.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    It was interesting to stumble on this vid today. I know it’s a bug that some people just want to smash, but Gould is a strong voice. I was a bit surprised to hear it from him, but it’s a reality that is hard to brush off.

    In my teen years I played his sonatas including the Fantasy that Gould demonstrates. I DO like the fugue as I have mentioned in the past.

  • The Fantasia in F minor, K. 608, is an astounding work that should easily rank among the best Baroque examples in the form, among many other works.

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  • Well, it was enlightening to hear this lecture - enlightening and very informative of Gould's not altogether dismissable judgments. One could not, though, escape noticing that Gould, after arguing and attempting to illustrate that Mozart was a bad composer, proceeded at the end of his lecture to demonstrate that Mozart was an exceptionally fine one. Can Mozart be forgiven for being more than a master of the harmonic vocabulary and forms of his time, even a prophetic one who anticipated much that Beethoven did? Does one expect him to be Schubert or Brahms? Sorry, esteemed Francis, your disdain for Mozart's music is well known, but if you mean this example of Gould's thoughts to convince us that Mozart only knew three or four chords and produced music of little or no value, you have not succeeded. Nonetheless, I thank you for presenting us with this stimulating example of Gould's remarkable genius.

    More than at his thoughts, provoking as they were, I was again in awe of his memory and ability to begin magisterially and spontaneously at any measure of probably hundreds of pieces.

    I am not at all disdainful of Gould himself. Quite the opposite. He does, though play Mozart far more Mozarteanly than he plays Bach as Bach. His Bach is fascinating, absolutely fascinating, but it is Gould, not Bach.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937

    I am not trying to convince you of anything... just presenting food for thought on matters musical. I am sure you and many will always love Mozart and continue to perform and listen to his works and those of his contemporaries. More power to you.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    Gould's arguments probably resonate most for people who perform keyboard mostly with a soloist or soloist-plus capacity. Mozart's peculiar genius was and remains, however, best manifest in vocal and instrumental *ensembles*.
  • Carol
    Posts: 603
    I haven't watched the 38 minute clip yet, but I love the hilarious comments of others under the clip! Of all the things I missed most this past summer, it was not being able to hear the Boston Symphony play Mozart at Tanglewood. I know it sounds "very upcrust" which I am not, but it is true. The opening bass run of the Jupiter is so thrilling!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    Ok... always willing to hear something new... so I pulled up Mozart’s 41st Maazel conducting... I waited for something earth shattering as the first 40... 50... or more measures passed the baton... I... don’t... get... it. I, IV, V... and then a pedal point. Does he write anything else? It’s like ACDC for orchestra.

    Just shoot the first violin please.

    From wiki

    It is not known whether Symphony No. 41 was ever performed in the composer's lifetime. According to Otto Erich Deutsch, around this time Mozart was preparing to hold a series of "Concerts in the Casino" in a new casino in the Spiegelgasse owned by Philipp Otto. Mozart even sent a pair of tickets for this series to his friend Michael Puchberg. But it seems impossible to determine whether the concert series was held, or was cancelled for lack of interest.[1]
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,142
    Francis, I tinck a tcertain doctor I know might be able to help you witt zat problem uff yours.
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  • If purely harmonic interest is all you are looking for in Mozart, then certainly look elsewhere. The harmony does the bidding of the form and not the other way around; it also permits a nimbleness of key that is not present in later music.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    If purely harmonic interest is all you are looking for in Mozart, then certainly look elsewhere
    Yes... I am always looking elsewhere...

    ...and for me, you have to add in melody too. The constant running up and down the scales with chromatic appogiaturas to add interest is like smelling common perfume. Once you leave the immediate sense, there is nothing that remains.

    As per form, from my vantage point, Mozart is akin to staring at a simple musical "cube". It holds no interest for me whatsoever. I guess the element of predictability is the falling off for me.

    Later music? There is no later music that interests me except for perhaps a few... Stravinsky, Faure, Debussy, Poulenc and Barber. Maybe a bit of Copland, but not much. Glass' later works are intriguing to me, even though they are quite minimalist. I think it is the trance aspect that I click into. Really like Holst planets!

    I have an extremely narrow taste in music I suppose. Just being honest.

    @Richard Mix

    Listen to 40:00 - 42:00 for about ten times in a row.


    for me my two favorites are G.F. Handel, and J.S. Bach.

    Baroque... the height of musical dev, then down the hill we went.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937

    I don't rate music per its performance... stylistically or by interpretation, or 'authentic' instrument employed... just the black and white notes on the page. No two performers will ever play any piece the same... and attempting anything 'stylistically' for me is a waste of energy.

    In my perview, Gould plays Bach just as well as Schiff or Barenboim. However, I do truly think Leonhardt is simply genius.

    Someone once asked me if my organ registration was correct to the period for the piece I was performing. I simply replied, 'I do not know! But I like it!'
  • Preeictable?These color changes? Really?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937

    Well, never heard this before, but going out the gate, I IV V I IV V... over and over until you get to V of V... then... I am glad you all like this stuff!


    color!... most beautiful... (i play this on loop mode for an hour)

  • I absolutely love counterpoint and cannot get enough of it. There's something that really intrigues me in the interaction of individual voices/melodies working together to bring out a work of art that makes my brain work.

    There's a video on Youtube of the Sanctus form Palestrina's "Missa ut re mi fa sol" done by the Cambridge Singers, an absolute piece of art in performance, but in the comments section, some person remarked about how boring such pieces were...Maybe they missed the point of such musical writing, but it was something commonly understood back in that century.
  • Try the slow introduction to the Allegro of the Prague Symphony.

    As for illuminating the genius of Mozart's approach to form, few have done it better than Arnold Schönberg, of all people. (Discussion of Mozart begins in "Brahms the Progressive"/VII, page 64.)
  • I always thought the greater part of Mozart's work revolved about the intricacies of formal and thematic, rather than harmonic or contrapuntal, structure.

    In particular, Mozart has always seemed to me able to retire compelling thematic / melodic material before it becomes stale.

    And then, of course, his vivid power of invention and imagination. His one-offs often easily surpass lesser composers' studied efforts. As, for example, the unexpected couplets in the Rondeau I linked above. As a friend of mine once put it in a way that the often rudely humorous composer might have appreciated, examples of Mozart "mooning [us] with his talent."

    And of the period generally -- by fully abstracting harmony from its occurrence in contrapuntal lines (a process that had been in progress through the Baroque, where we see the very deliberate harmonic rhythm of 18c. counterpoint and the consequences of figured bass), it lays the groundwork for compellingly different approaches to music.

    Ultimately, too, I think this abstraction lays the groundwork for one of the more enriching musical experiences of liturgy: properly accompanied chant. The harmonic structures that were discovered and arose from what was initially a polyphonic treatment of the plainsong melodies can now be applied by an instrumentalist, in this case an organist, in a way that completely respects the rhythmic and melodic integrity of the chant line, yielding the very best of genitoris and geniti alike.
  • You have stated your case well, Francis.

    But, it would seem to me that once one has comprehended with utter thoroughness the harmonic vocabulary and formal procedures of a given epoch or composer all (if that is all one looks for in musci) would be as predictable to you (and, therefore, as boring) as your estimation of Moazrt's music. (How unfortunate!)

    Of course, you don't have to like Mozart.
    There are some (precious few) days that I don't want to hear him.
    My listening and performance regimen changes from week to week or month to month, be it mediaeval, renaissance, baroque, or modern - aside from Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, and Franck, Mahler and Bruckner (oh, and Wagner), I have little interest in most XIXth century music.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937

    The problem is the periods BEFORE the classical were filled with the wonder and intricacy of the height of musical development in my mind, and it seems that music went backwards once the baroque period had ended... perhaps music going forward is more built on emotion and feeling than intellect and introspective meditation, and the incredible beauty of contrapuntal devices. I guess you could use the word boring, but I just consider it to be utterly simple. Perhaps its all about melody with an accompaniment to which NihilNominis alludes.
  • Well, we certainly have common ground in viewing the post baroque musical scene as fundamentally downhill* - at least until the XXth century and its experiments which hearken to earlier periods in their use of formal and compositional techniques. In my opinion one could assert authoritatively that Bach was the last truly great composer.

    I must say, though, that my very first experience with symphonic literature was of Karajan doing Mozart's incomparable little symphony no. 29, in A-Major on an Angel LP. I was in awe at this humble work and it changed my life when I first experienced in it what transformative objective beauty was. Now, I feel the same way about late mediaeval and renaissance polyphony (and Anglican chant) - but the Mozart was, for me, the beginning.

    * It is well known, I think, that the French revolution had its effect on music what with its leadership demanding music more melodically driven and having an appeal to 'the masses'. Even Beethoven, in several of his symphonies, quotes French revolutionary songs.
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  • Baroque form was very local though, and did not really permit coherent individual movements of longer than six or seven minutes. The Classical conception of form as a harmonic and thematic, rather than mainly contrapuntal, idea is what permitted the 20–30-minute movements of Brahms and Bruckner (to say nothing of Beethoven)

    I agree that the galant period was a great blow to quality music—how fortunate, then, that Haydn was mostly isolated from its pettiness and Mozart availed himself of all the Bach he could get his hands on.
  • davido
    Posts: 311
    Not being a pianist, I have had little to no exposure to Gould. After viewing this I find him talented, pompous and conceited, with ideas on music that stem post-romantic preconceptions of artistic genius, individuality, and cult-of-the-composer. I disbelieve his preconceptions and thus find his arguments overwrought. His critique of Mozartean improvisation seems ironic coming from a musician so wrapt up in his own neuroses that he was incapable of musical composition.
    I think that experience in improvisation is the major factor that nearly all the great composers held in common: from the baroque until the devolution of western music in the early twentieth century all the major composers had a background in keyboard and - especially - organ. The act of self-giving that live improv requires is precisely the sort of thing that helps a composer find their “voice” - and it is out of the plenitude of improvisatory music that they imagine into life that the real masterwork ideas are able to crystallize.
  • kenstb
    Posts: 363
    Francis, as to your opening post, I agree that Mozart doesn't need to be heard. I would argue that no composer's music needs to be heard. But IMHO, if it is music, then it ought to be heard, if only for the perspective of another soul's having given it breath. It is art, and music is one of the many voices through which God speaks most profoundly to me. Our tastes are influenced by what we hear. In your case, Mozart doesn't thrill you and that's okay. In my case, some music doesn't do it for me, but depending on my mood, I am willing to try almost anything. I enjoy most everything including my own output. I enjoyed the Glen Gould video very much. Thanks for beginning this conversation.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937

    Yea, I had thought to mention the revolutionary takeover of music too, but failed to do so. Thanks for mentioning.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    one has comprehended with utter thoroughness the harmonic vocabulary and formal procedures of a given epoch or composer all (if that is all one looks for in musci) is as predictable (and, therefore, as boring) as your estimation of Moazrt's music. (How unfortunate!)
    I guess your perspective of unfortunate says that I have missed something valuable or desirable. Perhaps you can enlighten me further since you embrace it. I am always open minded and willing to hear other perspectives. So far this thread has not convinced me of anything different than I already perceive.
  • All I meant was that if you know the harmonic and formal language of the composers that you like like the back of your hand they would come to be as predictable and boring to you as your experience of Mozart. In other words, sometimes (but not always) familiarity breeds contempt. Therein lies the misfortune.
    There are many works of all periods that I know so well that I don't even have to listen to them or play them, or even just sit and read them - I just think them. But never are they boring. Still this is really not experiencing them, for music by definition is to be heard, just as a painting is to be seen. All the arts (including Mozart!) are fundamentally sensual.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,142
    One you-tuber put it well:
    Glenn gould: created clickbait before the USB mouse was invented.

    If I wish to provoke I'd prefer to stand up for someone like Gounod. Blind spots I find more embarrassing, whether in others or myself: a big one for me has been Handel, though having conducted 14 Messiahs I should probably finally turn in my bah humbug card.
    S. Richter stated his guiding principle as the more the listener is surprised, the better. If Mozart can't surprise you, we can still be friends but must regard each other as a bit peculiar.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,937
    This thread is not concerned with espousing the philosophy, personality or musical performance/interpretation of Glenn Gould... I am simply unearthing the thoughts and reasonings of those who have surprisedly agreed with my own sentiments over the years. I just stumbled on this vid a few days ago. Didn't know he thought the same as myself.

    Messiah sing-a-longs... only went to one early on in my teen years, and then I was finished with that.

    Friends... EVERYONE here on this forum is a bit peculiar, self included... certainly wish I had the opp to meet everyone here in person... don't know if that is ever going to happen this day and age.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,598
    Am I one of the 10 people who watched that movie? My brother gave me the DVD for Christmas. I enjoyed it but hardly anyone I know watched it.
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  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 840
    Charles, I've watched this multiple times and really enjoy it! But then again, I probably qualify for peculiar!
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,598
    Peculiar is good!
  • My daughter read the book, left it where my father could get it, and, despite being diagnosed with dementia, he seemed to read about 30 pages of it intently