This day commemorates the anniversary of Mozart's death on 5 December, 1791. Although a solemn occasion, it's nonetheless worthy ...

Illuminating Mozart's Eternal Flame

This day commemorates the anniversary of Mozart's death on 5 December, 1791. Although a solemn occasion, it's nonetheless worthy of recognition and celebratory regard for the man and his music. Adorned in black dress, Mozart's body was placed in the study of his home in close proximity to the keyboard where friends and family could give their final adieu.
What a startling image. A young man of 35 years, arguably the world's greatest musical genius, no longer remained. On the brink of promising heights after enduring a plateau of sorts with the fickle Viennese, his prospects once again flourished, but death took him sooner than anyone had anticipated. It's easy for us to say it was nothing short of miraculous that he existed to this mere duration upon examining his medical history, but what a dark deception it must have been for his contemporaries. Imagine. His music embodied beauty, vitality, health. The spirit of humanity and the Age of Enlightenment.

How could this be? HOW could this be?

The Wiener Zeitung reported in December 1791: "The I. & R. court chamber composer Wolfgang Mozart died here during the night of the 4th and 5th of this month. Known from childhood as the possessor of the rarest musical talent in all Europe, he ranked alongside the greatest composers thanks to the happiest development of his outstanding natural gifts and the most persistent application of those gifts; his works, loved and admired by all, bear witness to this and are the measure of the irreplaceable loss that the noble art of music has suffered through his death."

The Rauhensteingasse residence where Mozart died no longer exists. The building was demolished in 1847 and now in its place is the Steffl Department Store. Like Mozart himself, whose exact resting place in St. Marx Cemetery is unknown, this is also an extraordinary loss. A watercolor by J. Wohlmuth gives us a glimpse into this lost heritage. It's where Mozart spent his last days with the Requiem, but also where he had good life experiences including the birth of his son Franz Xaver Wolfgang and the writing of his final piano concerto and clarinet concerto.

I'd like to thank those who joined my candlelight vigil today, an event that I've been hosting annually since 2012. With the exception of 2018, for which I didn't create an event page, the history of the vigil, including posts and interactions for each year, can be seen in the events section of my Facebook page.

I've also written blogs with vigil content produced by an international family of Mozartians I warmly refer to as "The WolfGANG." For instance, "Dear Mozart: Remembrance in Light and Letters" features 24 photos from Mozart admirers in 15 countries. Note: I'm currently restoring these photos to the blog as they were temporarily lost after a storage transition. Other blogs include:

Through the Prism of Film: A Candlelight Vigil in Joy and Remembrance 
The Efficacy of Social Media and the Mozart Anniversary 
Videography of Mozart's Last Days: The Requiem Playlist 

Anna Leticia De Domenico Laso, who has joined me every year since 2012 from her home in São Paulo, Brazil, participated in the vigil again today, sharing an image on the event page. "Listening to your amazing music on the day you left us... You will shine forever, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!"

As for my own individual experience, I try to do a different activity every year during the vigil. Yesterday, I decided to activate my 7-day ticket for the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall. Enjoying Mozart's music on a platform dedicated to furthering his legacy at the highest artistic level seemed more than appropriate. I'm grateful to the Berlin Philharmonic for creating this on-demand service that elevates the genre's accessibility in our over-saturated entertainment landscape!

I started with "A Mozart Evening with Daniel Harding" and then ventured to "Simon Rattle Conducts Mozart's Magic Flute." Fantastic! I became so enthralled in the music that, unlike years past, I'd forgotten to extinguish my candle at 12:55 am. I was watching the clock. The last time I checked, it was 12:54 am. The next time? It was after 1am! I was initially disappointed, but then I realized that it meant something more. It was symbolic. The flame endured.

While it's important to remember Mozart's light on this somber day, it's equally important to remember our role in illuminating his eternal flame. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that it isn't extinguished. I believe that our understanding of and appreciation for Mozart is far greater when supplemented by the experiences of others. It strengthens our resolve.


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