Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rock me, "Amadeus"

They are going to be doing "Amadeus" at Artpark and at Chautauqua and so I have been watching "Amadeus," the movie, bit by bit on YouTube.

You can find anything on YouTube!

I hated "Amadeus" when it first came out. I was in love with Mozart and I did not like how it treated him, with that shrieky laugh. But I remember when I was in California with Pennario, Pennario mentioned how he loved it. I did not want to fight about it with him, but secretly I did not change my mind. Until I recently I saw it. And I did like it!

It is a sexy and interesting movie.

I love the scene where the soprano throws her flowers at Mozart and you know they had something going on. That story was probably not true but there were probably stories like that that were true.

That scene where Mozart is writing music and absently pushing a billiard ball around the billiard table -- pictured above -- that scene rang true to me even 20 years ago.

The way Salieri describes the famous Adagio from that wind serenade.

"The beginning simple, almost comic, just a pulse.. basset horns.. like a rusty squeezebox. Then, suddenly, high above it... an oboe. A single note hanging there, unwavering. Until ... a clarinet took it over, sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I had never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God."

I realize this is probably famous and I am the last person on earth not to have appreciated it. But that is a good description of this music and what makes it magical.

Salieri should have been a music critic!

Few people can hear and appreciate music the way he did in the movie -- and put it into words so well.


  1. The last lines of "Copying Beethoven" capture the nuts and bolts as well as the soul of music pretty well:

    [Beethoven is dictating to his copyist his "Song of Thanks to the Deity"] "No key. It's common time, molto adagio, sotto voce. First violin, quarter notes. Middle C up to A. Measure. G up to C, tied, F. Second violin, bar two. Middle C up to A. Double note E, G, C. Viola clef, 2B pressed. It's a hymn of thanksgiving to God, for sparing me to finish my work. After the pianissimo, the canon resumes. First violin takes the theme. Viola, C to A. It's growing, gaining strength. Second violin, C to A, an octave higher. Then the struggle. First violin, C, up an octave, and then up to G. And the cello, down. Pulled down. Half notes, F, E, D. Pulled constantly down. And then, a voice, a single frail voice emerges, soaring above the sound. The striving continues, moving below the surface. Crescendo. First violin longing, pleading to God. And then, God answers. The clouds open. Loving hands reach down. We're raised up into heaven. Cello remains earthbound, but the other voices soar suspended, for an instant ... in which you can live forever. Earth does not exist. Time is timeless. And the hands that lifted you caress your face, mold them to the face of God. And you are at one. You are at peace. You're finally free."

  2. Ward, that is beautiful!! It is such a gift to be able to describe music like that, in terms that would help even newcomers understand it, but not in a way that is silly. I keep wanting to see "Copying Beethoven." I've heard it has its moments.