Just about anyone who looks objectively at the life and letters of Wolfgang Mozart has to come up against a rather odd set of circumstances — it seemed that wherever he went he and his music were met, not simply with rapturous praise, but with controversy and even slander. When Wolf was just a teenager in Italy with his father Leopold, for example, it didn’t take long for the whispers to begin, saying that it was not Wolf who was composing his early operas, but Leopold. Of course, anyone with an understanding of Leopold’s abilities and mindset would soon dismiss this idea, as Leopold showed virtually no ability to think outside of the box, musically speaking, whereas Wolf excelled in doing just that.
The older Wolf became the more intense the controversy. Even the dreadful caricature of Wolf in “Amadeus” supports the possibility of a literal ‘slander factory’ following him around wherever he went. Opportunities that should have presented themselves to him did not. Others received commissions that he could easily have completed with brilliance. Not only that, but his character was also slandered. It would be difficult to find time for him to have been as dreadful a person as he was claimed to be and manage to compose over 600 pieces of exquisite music in less than 36 years, but that thought doesn’t seem to bother anyone.
But what was the truth, if any, about this ‘slander factory’? How could such a thing have happened, and, equally importantly, why? Let me tell you what I think…
Everyone knew of Wolf’s prodigious musical gifts. There was just no controversy about his ability to dominate any musical situation with his skill and expertise, as well as pull out of the air music that just might have come straight from the heavens. But Wolf had a secret — a gift that the world of music and religion refused to acknowledge. This gift was different from that of the other musicians and composers of his day. Everyone realized this, but did there best to keep it from him. Wolf’s gift, to make an analogy, would be that of a perfect fourth or fifth in music, whereas the gifts of the others were major or minor intervals. Musically speaking, this is why I believe Wolf was hated and virtually hunted down. He had to be destroyed. If everyone realized the extent and nature of Wolf’s gift, the entire world of music would be turned upside down.
We can hear this unusual gift in his music. We know that when we listen to Mozart we tend to become grounded and our hearts more gentle. We don’t know exactly why, but we know we can count on this. This sweet balm in Wolf’s music has even been called “The Mozart Effect.”
I believe Wolf was given a profound gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is this that separates his music from that of everyone else before and since him. If this is the case then, theoretically, Pope Clement XIV could have validated this during his audience with Mozart in 1771. That did not happen, perhaps because the Pope and the Catholic Church, for all their bravado and worldly trappings, were not sufficiently Spirit-filled to do so. In fact, the Catholic church may have been a primary factor in the confusion Mozart had during his lifetime about his gifts, for he may have trusted them to tell him the truth, when they did not. Nor was Wolf or other parishioners encouraged to read the Word on their own, so how would he know what the characteristics of a gift of the Holy Spirit were?
I believe that it is this that created the conflict in Wolf’s life and enabled the slander factory to grow and ultimately suck him into a vortex of night and fog. Jesus said that all things on earth are forgiven, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If Wolf was acting in ignorance while carrying an extraordinary gift that could only be properly used when one completely humbled themselves before God, what would be the outcome? Wolf seemed to honor his musical gifts, but his knowledge of the God who had given them to him was, to my thinking, flawed and severely limited. I think Wolf was caused to stumble over his own gift — this unusual gift, that no other human would validate for him.
But Wolf did, in a sense, have the last laugh — he created the opera Die Zauberflote, and put it it all the attributes of this great gift. He found a way to describe this gift after all…
*M4B=Mozart For Believers