September 17, 2012

Happy Mon. Windy here, as it was yesterday. The temps have been mild, though. 57 yesterday afternoon and 49 this ayem.

We watched a good bio-doc on Wolfie, called In Search of Mozart. If you are interested, it was possibly the best music documentary I have seen. I’ve been listening to Mozart since I was in middle school. The first record I ever bought was Eine Kleine Nachmusik. My older brothers used to blast classical music into the yard while they were drinking home brew, which shaped my own taste. Musical, that is. The bio-doc follows Mozart from his genius childhood to his premature death at age 35. He wrote his first composition, for piano, at age 4, and at his death, probably brought on by rheumatic fever and kidney failure (he was not poisoned), he was nearly finished with roughly number 700. Following his career chronologically reveals that he was writing piano sonatas and concertos in his teens, wrote his first opera at 12, wrote for virtually all solo instruments, and was adept at taking familiar forms and writing them better and in a more surprising way than all his contemporaries. His father was a composer whose beautiful trumpet concerto is still performed. His older sister Nanerl was a phenom on the violin. So dad took the kids on a three-year tour of Europe, showing off their talents at courts and noblemen’s castles in 12 countries. In those days there were no paved roads (except for cobblestones in rich parts of cities) and carriages had bad springs, so travel was exhausting and hazardous.

As a 20-something Mozart wowed Vienna and Salzburg with a series of great operas and wrote music for public concerts that he promoted himself, hiring the musicians and halls, and conducting and soloing on the piano as well. The doc features multiple interviews and demonstrations with noted (heh) classical performers, some as old as the hills, and some quite young. All of them speak of Mozart in animated tones of affection for his music and awe at his musical powers. Most of it is in English, with subtitles for the German, French, and Italian speakers. The special feature interview with the English director/cameraman Phil Grabsky (he filmed the interview himself) is also quite interesting. A very sharp guy. His previous films included bio-docs of Muhammad Ali the boxer, Pele the soccer phenom, and Napoleon Bonaparte. He has since done other music bio-docs on Beethoven and Haydn that I am going to look for. From the public library.

Comments are closed.