Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another Mozart myth

They are going after Mozart, above, again.

Mozart is in the news a lot. There is this announcement that they have identified a couple of early pieces of his in the Mozarteum. I am excited about that! They are piano pieces and I guess they are early works. Details will be forthcoming.

But on a sillier note, today I had reason to watch this trailer for this stupid-looking movie called "Adam."

You hear that gloating trailer-guy narrator voice and the usual forgettable movie-theme pop song...

"I've got a lot of things to say... na na na na na..."

... and you learn that the movie is about a woman who falls in love with a guy with Asperger's Syndrome. Which is fine. But you hear him saying: "I have this thing called Asperger's Syndrome. Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart..."

She: "They had Asperger's?"

He: "Probably."

Can't they leave Mozart alone for once?

Next thing you know this will be accepted as fact and everyone will be thinking Mozart had Asperger's Syndrome. Which, it would be fine if he did, I mean I would not care if he did. But it would just be another untruth piled upon other untruths. There is no evidence that Mozart had Asperger's. I am sorry, but there is not.

This whole thought is probably an offshoot of the "Amadeus" way of thinking that holds that Mozart behaved like an idiot in public which, that is a fiction too.

Allow me to introduce my authority, Muzio Clementi.

Look at him. He looks like a guy you could trust, right? He was up against Mozart in a pianist contest and he wrote a letter about the experience. He wrote that he ran into Mozart before the contest and did not know who he was. And because of Mozart's fine clothing and deportment, he thought Mozart was a high-ranking nobleman.

Mozart did not care for Clementi and wrote one of his blisteringly honest letters about that. But he did not blurt out those feelings in public. He behaved beautifully. Why wouldn't he? What, did he just fall off a turnip truck?

There is also a letter Mozart wrote shortly before he died, about seeing to his older son's boarding school. He visited the school and complained, "All the children do is run wild."

That does not sound unusual to me.

I am glad Mozart now occupies the throne of the world's greatest composer. I am glad everyone knows his name. I am glad he is being mentioned in this mainstream movie along with Einstein and Jefferson.

But why does everyone have to think of him as Tim Hulce, with that shriek of a laugh? And now people think they can pin whatever condition they want on him, he was a weirdo, right? And he could not control his behavior, right?

Not fair.

And not true.


  1. I think you hate this kind of thing, but....

    The actor's name is Tom Hulce, not Tim.

    I know, it's only a weblog.

    Don't worry. Unless our civilization is annihilated someday, Mozart will be remembered and honored long after all the others who have commented on him, or acted him as written by a playwright, are dead and forgotten. And this includes you and me.

    I think there's a letter written by someone who went to visit Haydn. He described the musicians gathered there and wrote "and Mozart was the kindest of all." I like the true story about how he knocked off the ever popular "Ave Verum" as a favor for a casual acquaintance, Anton Stoll, in Baden.

  2. Prof. G, you are so wise! I love the story about "Mozart was the kindest of all."