We tend to think of Wolfgang Mozart as a happy child, eager to please, proud of his stunning musical gifts. By the same token we then tend to wonder how he turned into a arrogant, callous, supercilious musical snob. Of course, the movie AMADEUS captures in caricature that part of his personality. But still, when we stop to think about who this eccentric person really was, and what his life was like, many of us tend to end up feeling stumped. We hate to admit it, but there is about Mozart an aura of mystery. What was his life really like, we may then wonder? Did he even grapple with day-to-day living in the same way we do?
Many who write about Mozart tend to pander to surface lies and misconceptions. In fact, a sense of myth has developed about him, to some extent. Where did his gifts come from? we might ask. Why can’t I be anything but a humble supplicant when I perform his music? we may wonder.
Ironically, from my standpoint, most of what you may believe about Wolf is false. To complicate matters, I think you may be lulled into a sort of complacency by the myth. The myth, including AMADEUS, are, to my thinking, intended for the general public. Those who consider themselves insiders have a very different view. This dilemma can be considered comparable to the Warren Commission Report which came out after the assassination of President Kennedy. It’s purpose was to calm the public. The insiders knew it was not true.
And so it may be with Wolf…
So here’s a bit of the inside story.
Wolf was given a gift different from all the musicians around him. It is a gift analogous to comparing a major or minor interval in music to a perfect fourth or fifth. Wolf had a gift of perfection that came not just through his compositions, but the energy that they created. It was also evident when he performed. All the controversy and chaos that regularly surrounded him was related to this unusual gift. Nobody would confirm to him that he had it. He had to figure that out on his own. I think he finally did — when he wrote his last major opera The Magic Flute. The flute that carries his voice will always stop evil in its tracks and use everything for good. Its energy can survive death and time. It is, in fact, a gift of shalom.
Those in Wolf’s inner circle went to drastic means to try to control him and this gift and use it to their own ends. I think he finally figured that out as well…
And I think Wolf may also have fought off a dark angel that was trying to take control of his gift, his family, and his life. That was the other part of the gift.
And so, following that hypothesis, Wolf was dealing with a spiritual battle every day, even as he cheerfully and masterfully (if occasionally annoyingly) created and composed his marvelous works.
And he never complained…
*M4B=Mozart for Believers