Most of what everyone is told about Wolfgang Mozart is wrong. Some of it is simply misinformation, but some of it is disinfo, designed to point everyone away from the truth of who he was and what he actually accomplished. The tendency today (thanks to the truly vicious play/movie “Amadeus”) is to ‘love’ Mozart’s music while despising him as a person. Unfortunately, when Wolf was alive, he had to deal with vicious lies and slander on a daily basis. He was attacked because he was truly different from everyone. His situation was complicated by the fact that nobody would confirm to him just how different he was.
Mozart became famous as a child. In fact, we might say he was the first child super-star. At a very early age he was enticed to perform for the crowned heads of Europe. Everybody knew his name. He never really had the opportunity to grow up in a normal and anonymous manner. His fame put a sort of target on his back. As he grew older, he himself began to feed into his image. He had to do more, and better, than before. He had to always create beauty, brilliance and excitement. Pushing the limits was his second nature.
But there was a dark side to Mozart’s life. Nobody wants to talk about it. A vehicle such as “Amadeus” is intended to deliberately confuse us about it. Mozart had an unusual gift that could not be defined, yet caused him to be not only different from his colleagues, but a threat. This gift was not superior in degree, but in kind. Those around him could sense it. They wanted to control it. It frightened them. And so, while being on display from an early age, Wolf was also being vampirized, so to speak, by his birth family (perhaps some of it unintentionally) and the public. He was the little goose that laid the golden egg. He was paraded in front of the most worldly people in Europe, and everyone wanted what he had. Left unchallenged, this gift would have given Wolf all the worldly substance he could ever possibly dream of. It was this gift of shalom. It is at the heart of every piece he wrote. It is the ineffable gentleness, the baby’s breath that some have even called the “Mozart effect”. Everywhere he went, people were flattering him to his face and trying to steal this gift behind his back through slander. Eventually, he succumbed to this vortex of darkness. He did his best, though. He worked as quickly as he could. He knew his life was threatened by this conspiracy of darkness every day.
So when you perform Mozart’s music, perhaps consider putting yourself in his shoes for a moment, and allow yourself a sense of awe and even humility and how much exquisite beauty he managed to create while being surrounded by, in effect, those secretly plotting to silence him so that they could steal his music for themselves.