Listening to and writing about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is always a pleasure, a relief from everyday’s hustle and bustle. Here I sit with two hours to kill and I have nothing better to do than to enjoy Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 27 in G, K. 379, performed by Augustin Dumay (violin) and Maria Joao Pires (piano). And once again I struggle to find the right English word to describe the music’s mood. “Innig” in German – intimate, profound, heartfelt; that’s what the dictionary gives me. But it only hints at the depth of emotion stirred up by the first movement.
Where shall I start? With the beauty of the piece? With my excitement over the first occasion to listen to one of my favourite pianists? Maria Joao Pires. Born in Lisbon in 1944. She doesn’t make much fuss about herself. “The performer is not so important”, she often said in interviews. The music is. “Music is the truth about the world that we do not know,” she said at her 70th birthday in an interview with the German weekly “Die Zeit”. She has studied Buddhism, and the way she plays Mozart is… elevating.
My dear Wolfgang,
I am awfully sorry. I forgot your birthday. I was busy this week digesting all the bad news coming from the New World, but this is no excuse. Actually, to counter my growing desperation, I listened to quite a number of pieces you wrote, like the wonderful Clarinet Concerto in A major and your Piano Concerto in F major. Your music always cheers me up. But it did not occur to me yesterday that 261 years ago, you saw the light in Salzburg. Will you forgive me? I hope so. And please forgive me the clumsiness of my writing, I wrote this on a fly.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a master entertainer. He was the best at pleasing the cultural elite of Vienna. And he was the first composer with a thoroughly entrepreneurial attitude towards his own compositions. There was a product to be sold – his music. And then there was the promotion of the product – the publicity, the networking, the harassment of publishers, agents, patrons and officials to obtain a commitment for the publication of a score, for the renting of a concert hall, for a commission from the Habsburg Court, the Catholic Church or whoever would be willing to pay for a piece of brilliant music.