Sunday, February 24, 2008


Ah, February - that time when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts like "I wonder what repertoire the major symphony orchestras will be performing next season?". Most of the orchestra websites now have this information, and so I spent a few happy minutes flipping through the upcoming season of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The staff of This Blog Will Change the World would like to commend the TSO administration for programming some interesting repertoire which I'll try to get out to see when I'm in town. Nielsen's Fifth! Takemitsu! (I've never heard Takemitsu live! Excitement!)

However, when I realized that the TSO is running a Mozart@253 Festival, a little voice inside my head started to scream. You see, they've been running festivals under that title since 2005. I didn't object when I saw Mozart@249, 250, and 251, because the 250th anniversary celebration is a pretty significant event, but guys! It's. Time. To. Stop. There is no need to come up with a pretext to have a three-concert series of Mozart's music. Mozart has been standard repertoire for as long as anyone can remember. Audiences like his music. Musicians like his music. Peter Oundjian is a good Mozart conductor. Therefore, you should feel free to give all-Mozart concerts a couple of times a year. But stop pretending it's because of the anniversary. No-one cares.
We know the Mozart of our Father's time
Was gay, rococo, sweet, but not sublime
A Viennese Italian; that is changed
Since music-critics learned to feel "estranged";
Now it's the Germans he is classed amongst,
A Geist whose music was composed from Angst,
At International Festivals enjoys
An equal status with the Twelve-Tone Boys;
He awes the lovely and the very rich,
And even those Divertimenti which
He wrote to play while bottles were uncorked,
Milord chewed noisily, Milady talked,
Are heard in solemn silence, score on knees,
Like quartets by the deafest of the B's.
What next? One can no more imagine how,
In concert halls two hundred years from now,
When the mozartian sound-waves move the air,
The cognoscenti will be moved, than dare
Predict how high orchestral pitch will go,
How many tones will constitute a row,
The tempo at which regimented feet
Will march about the Moon, the form of Suite
For Piano in a Post-Atomic Age,
Prepared by some contemporary Cage.
Excerpt from W. H. Auden: "Metalogue to The Magic Flute" (Lines composed in commemoration of the Mozart bicentenary, 1956. To be spoken by the singer playing the role of Sarastro.)

1 comment:

Alice said...

But 253 is 11 times 23! Surely you recognize its significance!