Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Siege of Vienna (II, III, or IV)

I can't carry a tune in a bucket and barely know where the major composers fit on historic timelines, but I like Mozart just fine, thanks. Here's a guy (Norman Lebrecht) who claims Too much Mozart makes you sick.


Charlie Martin said...

Yeah, yeah, Mozart didn't challenge his audience, yeah yeah, some Nazis liked him, okay, all he did is write music that everyone liked and still listens to today, he's not Schoenberg.


MeaninglessHotAir said...


The purpose of an artist is to provoke his audience. Get clear on it. Obviously Mozart was a complete failure as an artist.

chuck said...

Robert posted on this at Llama Butchers, Link.

vnjagvet said...

If that jerk doesn't like him, he shouldn't listen.

As for me, I will be listening, and listening, and listening, and trying to play and trying to play and trying to play.

I agree with his points about Bach and Handel, both of whom I love but for different reasons.

And Haydn was in some ways more original than Mozart.

But Mozart refined and spun out effortlessly such seemingly simple stuff that has little twists and turns and complexities that are devilishly hard for an amateur to make sound right. When a pro plays them, they are sublime and it is hard to figure out why. They just are.

Charlie Martin said...

As some of you know, in my sordid past I was once a philosophy major. (What can I say? There weren't any job openings for pimp and drug dealer available.)

I learned many things about the topic itself, and still read quite a bit of philosophy now, but in the process I also learned a lot about philosophy and other humanities topics as --- as "professional disciplines", in quotation marks to avoid the inevitable suggestion that they're neither.

The observation that comes back to me, time and again in this sort of area, is that the way you get to be a well known, highly paid, practitioner of philosophy, literature criticism, and such is by developing some skill with identifying the oddest, most controversial notion you can think of and making a plausible and well-written argument for it.

Iwht just a little success, you'll generate "controversy". "Controversy" means people have noticed you; once people notice you, if interest in your "controversial" position takes hold, you'll get invited to come to conferences, give talks, visit academic departments, and present papers.

Your curriculum vitae will grow longer. You'll be better known. you'll get promotions. If you become well enough known, you'll start having talented grad students who also can make up "controversial" positions and present them; you'll get your name on joint papers, and your CV will get longer still. Eventually, if you're really good at taking "controversial" positions, you'll get appointed to a named chair at Princeton .

Much the same, i think, with criticism: if you come up with, and write, an amusing and interesting rant on some topic that's widely believed, people will find it, link it, republish it; you'll become known as an "important" critic, if you're a little lucky, and get promoted to a more important, and better paying, job. Like Frank Rich, say.

This has all the earmarks of a career move. Some obscure guy comes up with an anti-Mozart rant, and gets it published. Lots of people readhim. he brings in circulation; he gets more money. Plus he gets to look down on the proletariat that just doesn't have the refinement of spirit to see what Schoenberg is better than Mozart.

Eventually, you're invited to TV appearances to explain why Mozart is no good, and why if you think it is, you're just wrong. pretty soon, in fact, every mention of Mozart has to be countered with a argumen that takes your position into accound, even if it is stupid beyong rational comprehension.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


I think you've summed up the academic game quite well. Things are different in Engineering and the Sciences.

Eric said...

What was the line from the movie? "Too many notes?" Heh.

I like Marais better.