Through the Prism of Film: A Candlelight Vigil in Joy and Remembrance

Today, 226 years ago on December 5, 1791, W.A. Mozart , arguably the greatest composer in the history of the Western canon, passed away a...

Today, 226 years ago on December 5, 1791, W.A. Mozart, arguably the greatest composer in the history of the Western canon, passed away at the age of 35. Since 2012, I've hosted a candlelight vigil on Facebook to engage his fans worldwide in a uniquely shared experience to remember the day. And every year, as with other fan-driven initiatives, I bear witness to their extraordinary affection for the composer.

See my previous articles: The Efficacy of Social Media and the Mozart Anniversary and Hats and Ideas: The Mozartian Collective and the Power of Preservation

There's no greater dream for a Mozart fan than to be transported to one of those historical and riveting moments when the Maestro performed one of his concertos or conducted one of his operas. So, instead of focusing on the unfortunate reality of his years cut short by listening to his Requiem as is customary, I decided to mark the occasion by focusing more on the joy of his music in continuum, rather than its abrupt and tragic end. It's about re-imagining this historic day as one of promise.

The abiding relationship between Mozart and his collective that began during his lifetime is beautifully captured in a scene from the 1991 film W.A. Mozart by Juraj Herz. Watch. Mozart performs to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience with applause and cheers of "Bravo!" ringing throughout the theater. Flowers are tossed on stage and ladies greet him with kisses. It's an idyllic picture, this exchange between the composer and his adoring public.

While Mozart did enjoy celebrity treatment during his career, this kind of reception was not always the case. Like so many other artists who succumb to society's whim and posthumous obsession, Mozart's popularity became greater only in death. His following not only increased, but most importantly, remained loyal, generation after generation.

Mozart has maintained an uninterrupted presence in the mainstream due in no small part to the consistent and unwavering support of his admirers. And this is as evident on December 5th as it is on his January 27th birthday. Do we have work to do in regards to audience development? Absolutely. There is always concern. But I'm reassured on days like this that his fans are legion, and the reason why his music will endure.


Mozart's Requiem: Consolation in Camelot

Since his death in 1791, Mozart's music has remained a profound presence in the midst of world events, both tragic and joyous. Today,...

Since his death in 1791, Mozart's music has remained a profound presence in the midst of world events, both tragic and joyous. Today, as we recognize the 54th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and reflect on an era, we find that Mozart's music was there, providing beauty and strength in Camelot's darkest hour. It helped a family, and a nation, say goodbye.

The Kennedy family attended mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on January 19, 1964 where Mozart's Requiem was performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the President's loving memory. It's significant to note that this was the FIRST time in U.S. history that Mozart's Requiem had been celebrated as a liturgy.

In the article, "Return to Camelot: Music of the Kennedy Years," Christopher Purdy writes: "The Mozart Requiem sang and thundered and begged and comforted. The country began healing to Mozart's music during this performance."

The mass was broadcast on national television (NBC) and the performance was recorded and sold (RCA Victor) in record stores. Watch and listen to excerpts.

"The music was wonderful and beautiful. Mozart's Requiem is not a depressing work, it is graceful and powerful," said Joan Bennett Kennedy.

The worldwide music community responded with several tribute performances led by such renowned musicians, composers and conductors as Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein and Issac Stern. The words offered by Bernstein that November are as relevant today as they were 54 years ago. He answers a question I often ponder: As music continues to be a binding fabric of humanity across time, what is our resolve in the face of such unspeakable tragedy? Bernstein: "This will be our answer to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."


Advocacy for Opera's Youngest Audience

I was looking through my portfolio when I came across three articles I wrote as an intern for Opera Columbus . Featured in Columbus Paren...

I was looking through my portfolio when I came across three articles I wrote as an intern for Opera Columbus. Featured in Columbus Parent Magazine, my single page contribution represents my first published writing on behalf of music heritage preservation! Education and outreach have always been central to my work and I'm glad that in the beginning I had the opportunity to write on behalf of an underrepresented subject: opera and children.

As a preservationist, I try to appeal to the broadest demographic as time, budget and other factors allow for any given initiative. It's always a challenge, but equally delightful when I discover that I've reached a bit further than unexpected. I didn't anticipate it, but children and young teenagers have also benefited from my The Met: Live in HD
contests when accompanying a winning parent to see Mozart's operas in cinemas.

Reading these articles again, I'm inspired to do more as a professional, community member and family member to engage our youngest audience. And I thought I'd share them here in hopes that they'll encourage others to take action as well. After all, doing our part to sustain the art form is a shared joy and responsibility!


A Mozartian Birthday Pilgrimage

I thought I'd celebrate my birthday today by making a pilgrimage to all of Mozart's notable November 9ths and the music ...

I thought I'd celebrate my birthday today by making a pilgrimage to all of Mozart's notable November 9ths and the music and events associated with them. I've given the Mozarteum's Day by Day entries along with music links to our celebratory playlist!

Tuesday, November 9, 1762 
Vienna: Performance for Marchesa Vincenzia Pacheco
(Count Collato presents Wolfgang with a poem by the Baron von Pufendorf)

Sunday, November 9, 1766
Munich: Wolfgang plays for Prince-Elector Maximilian Joseph III

Sunday, November 9, 1777
Mannheim: Wolfgang plays organ in the court chapel

Tuesday, November 9, 1784
Vienna: Composition of the String Quartet in B flat, K. 458 (Listen
(The entry in his hand-written catalogue of works reads: the 9th of November. 10, A Quartet for 2 violins, viola an violoncello)

Monday, November 9, 1789
Vienna: Premiere of the aria "Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia” for soprano, K. 582 (Listen) and the aria "Vado, ma dove? oh Dei!” for soprano, K. 583 (Listen)

This birthday "pilgrimage" is inspired by the surprise I received in my copy of the book, "A Mozart Pilgrimage: The Travel Diaries of Vincent and Mary Novello in the Year 1829." Documenting the English couple's visits with Mozart's sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl"), his widow Constanze, son Franz Xaver Wolfgang and some of his closest friends, their diaries are "trenchant, blunt and revealing" (Sir William Glock, General Editor). "A Mozart Pilgrimage" represents one of the earliest published accounts of music fans/admirers engaging in music heritage tourism and preservation through qualitative research and narrative history.

When I placed my order, the book service mentioned that it contained postcards and a letter, but I couldn't have anticipated its contents! The letter was mailed with the book just a few days after I was born to the city where I was born: Athens, Ohio. It was sent from Oxford, England to the sender's Professor friend at Ohio University where I pursued my undergraduate studies in music and psychology. Incredible!

The postcards, lending life to the Novello journey, were just as exciting to receive. The images are in black and white with handwritten captions. They're in pristine vintage condition. Subject matter includes a portrait of the Novello family and 1956 German stamps commemorating the bicentennial of Mozart's birth. Since the postcards aren't mentioned in the letter, I assume they were added later by the recipient. Were they curated from the Professor's travels? Did he find them in an antique shop?

I wish I knew more! The book has its own story just like the one it contains. And I'm happy that, through this extraordinary encounter, we've crossed paths.