Friday, January 27, 2006

Wolfie & Me

I "discovered" Mozart in Tokyo when I saw the film Amadeus (in English!) while on a business trip there in 1985. Of course I now know that Amadeus is a drama with a lot of fictional and conjectural elements, and having read a few Mozart biographies since then, I know a bit about his life. But I still believe that the film captured something of the spirit of the man, and it triggered a six-year "Mozart odyssey" during which I attended as many concerts and operas as I could (many on business trips to Europe and Japan). I also collected nearly all of his works on CD, along with a good number of books on Mozart and his amazing music, which I still love to hear.

One year later I was in Salzburg with a music-loving colleague, where we were lucky enough to spend the weekend between a conference in Innsbruck and a seminar in Munich. It was April 1986 and Salzburg was beautiful (Innsbruck even more so). We did the touristy things, including visiting Mozart's birth house. The dollar was worth something in Europe in those days, and we stayed at a pretty nice hotel where the concierge was able to get us tickets for a small chamber music concert Saturday evening.

This is perhaps my best Mozart memory, because the concert was in the historic bishop's Residenz where Mozart and his father had been employed, in a room where Mozart himself had performed many times. Although they played the famous and always lovely Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (K.525), two other works were new to me then but are now among my favorites. One was the Oboe Quartet in F (K.370), and the other the Divertimento No. 11 in D (K.251), the "Nannerl Septet" (written for Mozart's sister).

In 1991 I was back in Salzburg (another Munich trip), and that time it was the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death. There were special exhibits and concerts, and I had a great time, although I think my obsession phase was winding down a little by then (it was fall and I must admit that I also took the Sound of Music bus tour, ostensibly because it visited the little town where Mozart's mother was born).

In honor of Mozart's 250th birthday, I've been listening to a lot of his music the last few days, and it sounds as fresh and wonderful as ever. So happy birthday to one of evolution's very best results, and thanks for all the gifts!

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