Every July and August since 1918, with the single interruption of 1944, a music festival has been held in the Austrian city of Salzburg celebrating its home town hero , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This year’s festival occurs in the 254th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and presents the master in many venues in addition to other composers. I am writing about this fine event in hopes that I will someday take the plunge and attend the festival , a lifelong dream. Certainly Mozart’s music is universally available and paying the absurd price for the events at this most famous of music festivals is likely not the most efficient way of absorbing the beauty of Mozart’s music. So be it – you have your musical event fantasy, and I have mine.
Salzburg, Austria sits in some of the most picturesque landscape on earth and was a fitting inspiration for the soaring beauty of Mozart’s greatest gift to the musical world, the Andante, or slow movement. The Andante is a tempo of walking, contemplative slowness taking in the beauty and spirit of one’s surroundings without the abject loneliness and desperate sadness of the slower Adagio. Mozart was a very spiritual person who believed in an afterlife that guaranteed an alleviation of life’s sufferings and a joyful affirmation of the eternal nature of the soul. His moments of internalizing and personalizing the musical score invite the listener to contemplate a higher plane of awareness, where the sounds achieve purity and beauty that few composers other than perhaps Beethoven ever achieved, approaching harmonic celestial perfection. If this was not heaven, it was Mozart’s earthbound version of it.
If someday I find myself in Salzburg walking down the Getreidegasse and look up to see No. 9, the birthplace of the old master Mozart, I expect to think first of the supreme Andantes and their connection with the man who brought such beauty to life. Would not the world be a little better place if at times of such instability and trial as we live in today, events were blissfully soundtracked with the sound of the world as it ought to be…,.
Andante, Mozart Piano Concerto No 23
Andante, Mozart Clarinet concerto