As I watch the headlines this week, with the hostage siege in Sydney, a massacre in Philadelphia, and now a terrible event at a school in Pakistan, I find there are additional challenges for me as I prepare for our Die Zauberflote Holiday concert, which will be this Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 8 p.m. in the Mall of America Rotunda. The last time we did a holiday concert was on the same date in 2012. That happened to be just days after the terrible Newtown disaster. I felt I had to change the theme, from a ‘Slightly Wigged Out Last Day on Earth” concert to performing the carols as though I were playing my children to sleep at night. This year the theme is Baroque — Handel’s amazing Messiah, performed with lavish ornamantation on my antique (silver Louis Lot) French flute. This time there is not much to change, as Baroque improvisation is relatively limited in scope, and the theme is, of course, eternal. But still, I have to wonder what additional turbulence might take place prior to Sunday, and pray and play for peace and healing for everyone…
With dual tornadoes flattening a small town in Nebraska yesterday I found myself thinking of a performance I gave under rather challenging conditions some time ago. The program was, what else? — all Mozart. The venue was the beautiful Art Room of the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis. Everything went smoothly until around noon the day of the performance. Tornadoes moved in on the Twin Cities. Some of my guests who planned to attend the concert found themselves holed up in movie theater in a Mall in St. Paul as a tornado roared by. Another who lived near Lake of the Isles found a tree had fallen across their driveway. One tornado zeroed in on my accompanist’s apartment building. He became terrified and tried to bow out, claiming he had no way to get to the church. He did, fortunately, manage to arrive, at the last moment. And yes, everything ended up working beautifully, and all but a handful who had planned to attend made it and seemed to be delighted by the program. My three little children ran around the back of the room, playing quietly. As with just about everything connected to Mozart, that which seemed to be almost impossibly challenging evolved into an experience of absolute joy…
There is so much known about Wolfgang Mozart’s life, but so little valid information about what he was like as a person. Most people end up believing a lot of misconceptions about him. Many of them are summed up in the movie “Amadeus,” which tends to focus on and even exaggerate his character defects. The clear implication is that he didn’t ‘deserve’ to be so richly endowed with genius because he was in fact a nasty person.
To my mind, this is both unfair and wrong. Mozart was shot out of a cannon at an early age onto the world stage. He didn’t have a chance to grow up normally. He knew his gifts were extraordinary, and he knew he had to work as quickly as possible with whatever time he had. In short, I think he knew his own shortcomings better than anyone, but was determined to fulfill the mission given to him despite them, and in spite of the backbiting and negativity of his colleagues.
Ultimately, of course, the earthly voice of Mozart was silenced. There is ample reason to believe his untimely death was not of natural causes. Certainly, the contempt and deceit of his contemporaries served at the least to discourage him and shorten his days on earth. His music was stolen away from him. It was then even paraded like a banner by some who hated him, to try to show the world that they were as good as he was. Many counterfeit or anti-Mozarts have tried to lay claim to being another Wolf. Nobody has succeeded. They never will.
And so, here I am. As I said to one of the ‘professional’ players of the MO,”I feel I have a drop of what Wolf had an ocean of.” (Excuse my grammar). I believe that I can talk about his life from the inside, not the outside. Every mistake he made has been of benefit to me.
People tend to think of Mozart as ‘exclusive’. They seem to think he had a gift inaccessible to anyone else, and then they hated him for it. That is false. Unfortunately, Wolf himself contributed to that lie. So I am speaking to you with a simple voice, in a manner intended to be inclusive. My family and friends can verify that there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about me. In fact, they insist on telling me that frequently. :-0
I live an ordinary life and do very mundane (compared to Wolf) things. I live simply. I am passionate about my family, my friends, and my horse. And every time I pick up the flute to play I am humbled, sometimes to the extent where I am unable to accomplish much at all. And so, before most of you hear me play, before you learn more of “P2A”, I want you to know me as a person. What better way than a blog? :-0
In addition, though my adversaries will undoubtedly disagree, I feel that it is in Gd’s plan for me to live in an out-of-the-way town in “the Heartland” of this country. This is a gift for the ‘salt-of-the-earth’, the ‘common people’ who are just extraordinary in their kindness. It is these people who have supported my children and me while “Monostatos” did its best to lock me out and target my children.