Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mozart: Symphony #29 and Symphony #34

I'll tell you a little secret.

I resent Mozart.

No, I'm not some sort of modern-day Salieri. It's because I used to play the trumpet.

James Levine and the Weiner Philharmoniker
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Symphony #29
Symphony #34

Deutsche Grammophon, 1986

No trumpet player likes Mozart and Mozart didn't like trumpet players. And the parts that trumpet players have to play in Mozart symphonies heartily show this dislike.

Supposedly Mozart's baggage with the trumpet had more to do with the fact that the instruments of that day were valveless and didn't allow for the pitch control or the technical capabilities that his music typically required from other instruments.

So he wrote his music they way he did, thank goodness for that. But he always gave the trumpets what we used to condescendingly call "oom-pah parts" (think John Sousa marches and what the french horns have to suffer through in those).

And what is always the worst for a musician (especially a high school- or college-age male musician who was more interested in checking out the pretty girls in the woodwind section in front of us) playing oom-pah parts in a Mozart symphony means having to count rests. In other words, not only do you hate the part you have to play, you have to pay close attention the whole time, counting bars, so you come in at the right time. Otherwise you get into trouble and the conductor starts it all over again. Thus causing you to have to play the hated part again.

I spent years avoiding Mozart during and after I was performing as a musician because I thought all his trumpet parts sucked. Talk about not thinking (or listening) outside the box.

But it was several years ago that I bought a couple of Mozart symphonies and I guess enough years had gone by since I was last playing the trumpet that I could really listen to the works as a whole. I fell in love with them.

So why then do I resent Mozart? Because after all of those years of rest-counting and oom-pah part playing, I thought I hated Mozart. And I missed out on several years of utter classical music joy.

I gotta blame somebody.

I'll have much more to say and to celebrate of Mozart's (all too brief) life and the genius of his works in the coming months.

1 comment:

Mumsicles said...

ha ha - funny!

gotta hate those Sousa marches, but Mozart wrote some great horn concertos.