When people listen to die zauberflote (the flute, not the opera) I ask them, when given the opportunity, to tell me what they hear. Why? Let me tell you…
I am constantly amazed at the unusual aspects of this gift. I have found that die zauberflote is like a laser — it somehow almost instantaneously starts to cleave truth from falsehood. This astonishes me. Some hear what I call a sound of shalom — something gentle as a baby’s breath. Others hear something less ethereal. A few have said they thought they heard Mozart’s voice in the music. That is fascinating to me, as normally I do not.
Having people crawl out of the woodwork when I was at Orchestra Hall taught me a valuable lesson. At that time I was naive and eager to learn. I had no idea that my practising on the darkened stage might have a powerful effect behind the scenes on some of those with a trained ear. Those who hear a sound of shalom usually comment on that, sometimes even accompanied by tears. Those with a gentle heart , as Wolf says in the opera, will have an increase in favor wherever they go. But others will give me a look of contempt and begin to nitpick. They purse their lips. They seem to take offense. They fold their arms. They murmur. They tap their feet. They complain. They sometimes even gnash their teeth. They may even attempt to make feigned compliments while grimacing (not a pretty sight).
These adversaries may try to take me down, lock me out, slander me behind my back and exclude me from opportunities that could provide substance and respect commensurate with this great gift. If they were to lift their little finger they could open doors. They may act obsessively, attempting to insinuate themselves into my inner circle to gain influence. They may, in effect, shun me — treat me as though I am already dead and act as though they are simply waiting for something to happen. They might even try to lure me into losing situations. I never know what to expect.
Unfortunately, some may think they can, in effect,’steal’ die zauberflote and use it for their own ends against Gd’s will. They cannot, of course. (Often this destructive behavior is accompanied by calling me by my dreaded nickname, “Pam”. When I am being “Pammed”, I have little doubt what lies in store.) However, as Believers, we do know that Gd will at times put some people in our way not to hold us down but to push us up into our destiny. Who knows what purpose is behind this?
This gift of die zauberflote is perfect, in the way a perfect fourth or fifth (as opposed to a major or minor interval) is perfect. What do I mean by that? If you listen carefully to Mozart’s music you will hear something different, something extra. A certain sound, so to speak — something gentle and joyful. This has even been called the “Mozart Effect”, as those who listen to his music find themselves more grounded and serene. In fact, from my standpoint, this is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which made Wolf’s music different from everyone else’s in a very subtle, yet dramatic, regard. Nobody could copy this; nobody could imitate it.
This also seems to be true of die zauberflote. Some who take offense at this difference appear at times try to push their own musical flaws onto me. Some will summon up from the depth of their being their deepest worries and fears. In actuality, were I ever to go into competition with any of them I would probably know their weak spots.
Could they have, in fact, fallen into a pothole of Wolf’s ‘ein musikalischer spass'(K522)? Yes, long ago, on a day when Wolf was probably bored with writing ‘nice’ music that everyone ‘liked’, he drew his sword and put a number of compositional anomalies into a piece by that name. Is that, in effect, what some critics are claiming to hear in die zauberflote? If so, are they really oblivious to the fact that the indomitable Wolfgang Mozart has triumphed yet again, the joke really on them? In essence, have they been “Wolfed”?
Listen and decide for yourself what to think…I accept the grumblers, gently sidestep them, and keep moving forward.
What does ‘zauber’ mean, anyway? Sparkling clear one moment, a mystery the next? Things turning upside down and everything working for good? (Cor. 4:24) I am used to never knowing what to expect. Things may seem completely unpredictable, and then fall into place. This is how die zauberflote works. Perhaps one day its gentle shalom will persuade even them. 🙂
*M4B=Mozart For Believers