Hats and Ideas: The Mozartian Collective and The Power of Preservation

As a Music Heritage Preservationist, one of my primary goals is to leverage the passion of musi...

As a Music Heritage Preservationist, one of my primary goals is to leverage the passion of music fans to fuel preservation activities. As musicians, consumers, patrons and volunteers, we play a vital role in sustaining the life of music from the past. And we're far more than the bottom lines and social media analytics that quantify us. We're storytellers and historians who give the music context, socio-cultural perspective and human interest. Our collective voice is one of great power and beauty.

Mozart's music has remained securely popular since his lifetime due in no small part to the consistent and unwavering support of his admirers. However, I've discovered through my work that Mozartians today either underestimate or are unaware of how important their individual actions are in preserving this music heritage. Although having the best of intentions, the way we engage with music today doesn't always go the extra mile for preservation effectiveness.

Given society's preoccupation with personal devices and music on demand, we experience music more individually today than ever before. And when we also consider the graying of audiences and the threat of a wrecking ball hovering over another historic theater, only then do we realize just how much it all depends on our involvement. And I feel, to a degree, that classical music audiences have heard so often that the genre is fading into oblivion (and it seemingly continues) that they've become desensitized to any mention of its plight.

Thinking about this inspired me to write an article to inform fans about the opportunities that can translate their passion, skills and interests into maximum impact in exchange for a little more time and effort. Preservation requires us to wear a hat or two and I hope my fellow Mozartians will explore and consider these options!

The Consumer /// This is the hat that you probably wear most often...keep it on tight!
-Purchase tickets for Mozart concerts and related events
-Attend Fathom's Met Live in HD broadcasts of Mozart's operas at your local cinema
-Buy Mozart recordings, books, films, etc.
-Visit museum exhibits and Mozart historical sites through related travel and tourism
*See my resources page for directories and ideas!

The Patron /// This hat is a great option for those who have the additional funds to contribute and/or don't have much time for other volunteer activities.
-Support an opera company, orchestra or Mozart festival as a season subscriber
-Sponsor a Mozart concert program or festival as an individual or business
-Make a donation to classical radio or an all-Mozart radio channel
-Join a Mozart organization or museum association as a dues paying member
*See my resources page for directories and ideas!

The Volunteer /// This is the hat that needs to be worn most often by Mozartians! Your time is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than monetary contributions.
-Serve on committees and boards to support Mozart-related programming
-Become an usher for concerts and events
-Dedicate time to doing office work or other tasks for an organization or museum
-Become a docent for an exhibit about Mozart, his era or related subject
-If you're a musician, volunteer to perform in a community orchestra
-If you're an artist, create a Mozart artwork and suggest a local display or exhibit
*See my resources page for directories and ideas!

Volunteerism isn't just organizational. Here are a few social ideas!

-Invite family and friends to a Mozart concert or event
-Create and distribute Mozart mixtapes
-Host a movie night featuring a Mozart film or performance
-Organize a Mozart listening party and vinyl swap
-Host a reading group focusing on a Mozart biography or novel

It's my hope that I've inspired you in some way to become more active in doing your part for the well-being of Mozart's music!


'Tis the Season for a Mozart MerryMix!

Taking the idea from a past article , I thought I'd create a Christmas playlist that incl...

Taking the idea from a past article, I thought I'd create a Christmas playlist that included a few of my favorites from YouTube. Mozart's music, like all great music, adds a fulfilling dimension not only to the holidays, but to all seasons. So, in the spirit of the man and his music, I thought a curated Mozart MerryMix was in order. Tinged with both reverence and merriment, it features the sacred and secular, vocal and instrumental.

Let the MerryMixing commence!

On Christmas Eve in 1788, Mozart entered 12 minuets into his catalog (KV. 568). The following is the translated entry written in his own hand: the 24th ditto. 12 minuets. for 2 violins, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, timpani, flautino and bass. Listen and enjoy with festive ears! It's easy to imagine a grand ballroom with dancing couples, a small orchestra, candlelight and the glistening snow falling outside.

Written in 1773, Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate (Exalt, rejoice) (KV. 165) is often a staple of Christmas music programming. Mozart was a teenager when he composed this work for the Italian castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, whose technical agility he admired. While mostly performed by female sopranos today, it still receives worthy vocal treatment by boy sopranos and counter-tenors. Watch boy soprano Alois Muehlbacher sing the Allegro for the annual Christmas in Vienna concert.

A product of his tenure in Salzburg dating from 1780, Mozart's Vesperae solennes de Confessore (Solemn Vespers for the Feast of a Confessor) (KV. 339) is another perennial favorite. Watch Anja Harteros perform the Laudate Dominum (Praise the Lord) for the annual advent concert at Dresden's Frauenkirche (Lutheran Church) with the Chorus of the State Opera Dresden and Maestro Christoph Eschenbach.

Mozart completed his Flute Quartet in D (KV. 285) on Christmas Day in 1777. The work was part of a commission by the amateur Dutch flautist Ferdinand De Jean. In a letter to his father, Mozart said of the flute: "You know that I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to write for an instrument which I cannot bear." If he disliked the flute, there's no sign of disdain in his writing for it. Watch the quartet Ensemble ACJW bring Mozart's Christmas Day flourish to life at Carnegie Hall!

Handel's Messiah needs no introduction. However, Mozart's more obscure arrangement of this work (Der Messias, KV. 572) certainly does! In 1789, Baron Gottfried van Swieten commissioned Mozart to re-orchestrate the 1742 oratorio to accommodate contemporary musical taste and style in German translation. The result is a glorious marriage between the two masters, fusing Baroque counterpoint and Classical style. While I've attended a performance of Handel's original at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, performances of Mozart's arrangement are unfortunately rare. Watch the performance of Uns ist zum Heil ein Kind geboren (For unto us a child is born) by the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, soloists and Maestro Helmuth Rilling.

Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, true body) (KV. 618) tugs at the heart strings for its composition and context, making it all the more appropriate for the Christmas season. Mozart gave the motet as a gift to Anton Stoll, organist and choirmaster at the church in Baden, for looking after his wife Constanze who would often visit the local spa to remedy her ill health. It wasn't a commissioned work as most were for Mozart, but an independent expression of gratitude. It was written in June 1791, just six months before his death. In a world consumed by materialism, let Mozart's gesture remind us that this is the season of giving and gratitude. Watch the James Last Orchestra and Choir of St. Michael's Church in Hamburg interpret the work for their annual Christmas concert.

In closing, a bit of trivia! Did you know that Stille Nacht (Silent Night) was performed for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1818 near Mozart's hometown of Salzburg? The lyrics were written by the Salzburg pastor Joseph Mohr and the melody by Franz Xaver Gruber. I thought it would be nice to end the playlist with a selection capturing the contemporary sights and sounds of Christmas in the town where Mozart was born and lived most of his life. In his father Leopold's words, Mozart was the "miracle which God let be born in Salzburg," Watch!

Merry Christmas, Mozartians! Froehliche Weihnachten!


The Efficacy of Social Media and the Mozart Anniversary

Taking a social approach to music heritage preservation, I subscribe to the idea that audiences be...

Taking a social approach to music heritage preservation, I subscribe to the idea that audiences benefit exponentially through shared experiences. In 2012, I began creating event pages on Facebook so that Mozart's worldwide fan community (aka "The WolfGANG") would have a place to gather for two of his most significant anniversaries. With the dates of December 5th and January 27th quickly approaching, it's that time of year again!

To commemorate the anniversary of Mozart's passing on December 5th, I've hosted an annual candlelight vigil, asking participants to light a candle at 12:20 am (local time) and extinguish it at 12:55 am (local time). This 35 minute duration represents Mozart's 35 years of life and 12:55 am represents the time his light left our world in 1791. I've also encouraged fans to listen to his Requiem, write letters and share photos and sentiments on the event page. For my first vigil in 2012, I was joined by approximately 70 individuals. This experience inspired me to write, Videography of Mozart's Last Days: The Requiem Playlist. The following year, I penned the article, Dear Mozart: Remembrance in Light and Lettersfeaturing 24 photos from fans in 15 countries. The event has continued to evolve and gain reach in the Mozart fan community. 

To celebrate his birthday on January 27th, I've invited Mozartians to indulge in party activities inspired by the man himself such as jokes and pranks, billiards and dancing! I've encouraged them to share favorite quotes, recordings and other media along with their party photos and birthday wishes on the event page. In 2015, I realized a new celebratory idea through a collection of sentiments from fans around the world to present Mozart's first global birthday greeting at the Mozarthaus Vienna, his former residence. Submissions utilized various mediums and were created by a range of individuals, from professional artists and novelists to impassioned children! 

The joy and humanity of Mozart's music and the universal messages of love, unity and enlightenment conveyed within its measures remain relevant and necessary today. Its authenticity is beautifully captured by Mozart's fans in the many photos, comments and artworks they've shared on my event pages. Take a lookI hope that you'll join me on December 5th and January 27th so that our efforts will continue to inspire hearts everywhere as we celebrate Salzburg's native son.