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...

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 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.