Fred Baumann writes, profoundly and compellingly, about Mozart, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his birth. A taste:
[L]istening to Mozart calls to mind (and in some ways turns you into) a certain kind of person, a more complicated sort than we mostly go in for today. Not a redemptive Wagnerian hero or cynical slacker, not a high-minded virtuoso of compassion and/or righteous indignation, not a "realist" or an "idealist," but someone who both acknowledges, lives in, accepts the viewpoint of, and participates in, all human feelings--even the ugly ones, as we see in the marvelous revenge arias given to the Count, Dr. Bartolo, and Figaro--but who also, in the end, maintains as sovereign the viewpoint of rationality and order. (That is why, in their own ways, all three of those arias are come-dic, even the Counts, which is also partly genuinely scary.)
In invoking, and to some degree creating, such a person, Mozart implicitly makes a kind of moral case, a case for how we should live. It is not "aesthetic" in the sense of replacing the moral with formal beauty; it is much closer to what we find in Shakespeares Tempest or Measure for Measure; i.e., models of a kind of control of the passions that gives them their due. Yet it is presented aesthetically, not through argument or exhortation.
For more on Mozart, go here and here.
11:09 AM / January 24, 2006
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