Charles Chaplin Likes to Play Mozart

Mozart, composer of music, delicate like a flower. © Charles Thibo
Mozart, composer of music, delicate like a flower. © Charles Thibo

Oops, now I have pronounced the M-word. In my last post I carelessly mentioned the name of Mozart. There is no way around now, we have to speak about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the greatest composers of all times. He comes only second on my iPod playlist because I own so many albums and often have a hard time to pick the one that fits my mood.

My first encounter with the genius from Salzburg (Austria) was a funny one. I met him in front of the Theatinerkirche in Munich when I was still a student. I was strolling through the streets on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon and a street artist caught my attention. I heard him before I saw him: delicate music was charming my ears and draw me closer. A puppet player had attracted a large crowd as he manipulated a puppet – Charles Chaplin in a tail coat – in front of a miniature piano mimicking to play the 3rd movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A, K. 331, the famous “Rondo alla Turca” (Turkish March). Wonderful. I couldn’t get away from it, not only because of that lovely music, but also because the puppet player was really good and his performance exhilarating.After the performance, I asked the artist about the title of the piece and that is how I discovered Mozart. The 3rd movement has probably been played a zillion times, by both professionals and piano students. However it is worth listening to the complete sonata, that is the three movements, as they are logically linked to each other. The record I have has been recorded by the Hungarian pianist Jenö Jando for the Naxos label.

The reason I like this sonata are twofold: The composition stands out for its brilliance and I am speaking of the sound here. Every note, half note, quarter note is exactly where it should be to give a perfectly harmonious impression. Furthermore it is a very lively piece and I know few works better suited to get me out of a depressive mood! It floats like a feather in the room and I would love to hear it once performed live in a concert hall, preferably by the Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires, whom I venerate. Yes, yes, I know I have a penchant for good-looking female pianists. So what?

The piece was written by Mozart, aged 27, in Vienna in 1783/84, when his career really started to take off. He had studied piano, violin and composition under the guidance of his omnipresent father Leopold Mozart and was quickly recognized for his talent. The presentation of the Prodigy Child all over Europe was a clever public relations coup of the proud father, but whether it was really advantageous to such a young mind can be debated. Anyway, before Mozart moved to Vienna he had served for several years already the Bishop of Salzburg as a Konzertmeister. In this position he had composed several musical dramas and (today less known) operas, two masses and the wonderful hymn for soprano voice and orchestra “Exsultate, Jubilate”.

Since Mozart is one of my favourite composers and has written such a large number of pieces, we will certainly come back to this composer, who forms together with Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven the (First) Vienna School or in German “Wiener Klassik”. Because I definitely will have to tell you about his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K.216, since very long number 2 on my iPod playlist. And the “Exsultate, Jubilate”. And “Don Giovanni”. And so many more.

© Charles Thibo

Published by

de Chareli

Writer, photographer, piano student, music enthusiast. And a lot more. You are welcome to follow my blog.