Monday, October 21, 2013

Mozart and name days

Another thing I am learning from Paul Johnson's book on Mozart...

(The last one being the mean archbishop ...)

... Mozart would celebrate the name days of his female relatives by writing them pieces of sacred music -- an Ave Maria, a Magnificat, something like that.

Imagine being one of Mozart's relatives! It is your name day and you get an Ave Maria written by Mozart. Probably at the time they saw it as nothing special.

"What did you get for your name day, Sophie?"

"Oh, my husband gave me this great necklace, and this is exciting, my sister gave me a gift certificate to that new restaurant."

"But you must have gotten something else."

"Oh, right, a new Parisian hat! From my other sister."

"What else?"

"Let me think."

(Long pause.)

"You know what, my brother-in-law gave me a cute Salve Regina he wrote."

I want to start celebrating people's name days, you know?

Back when I was a kid and read about Mozart I kept reading about name days and I did not know what they were. Your name day is the feast day for the saint you were named after. That was what you celebrated back then, not your birthday.

My husband Howard's name day would be Oct. 19. Darn, I just missed it! I am going with St. Philip Howard, one of the martyrs of Elizabethan England.

Mozart's name day was Halloween. Oct. 31 is the feast of St. Wolfgang. St. Wolfgang was "one of the three brilliant stars of the 10th century." The Catholic Church, gotta love it!

It also worked so that you were christened the name of the saint whose feast day you were born on. Mozart was born on Jan. 27, the feast day of St. John Chrysostom. Hence his name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb (or Amadeus, or Theophilus, depending on what you read, I have never been able to get this straight).

What great traditions, all lost now. They have thrown out all these babies with the bathwater.

Haha ... Looking at the St. Wolfgang link I see someone had commented: "Dear St. Wolfgang, thank you for being the namesake of Mozart."


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mozart's mean archbishop

Pursuant to my post the other day about Paul Johnson's book on Mozart, I am still hardly into it but there are a few things that I did not know. Here is one.

The Archbishop who was famously mean to Mozart, Hieronymus Colloredo, disliked the old Latin liturgy and used to push for the vernacular. Who knew that? I did not.

You can tell a bad apple by that, you know? I am not saying everyone has to love the Latin liturgy the way I do but when someone is an enemy of it, watch out for that person. Anyway, I never knew that about that old Archbishop, and it makes sense, seeing that he was a baddie.

I continue to appreciate Paul Johnson's understanding of the Catholic Church. He writes himself that most biographers do not get this, and he is right. Fiction writers do not get it either and that can be even more annoying. A while back I read, or attempted to read, this novel called "Mozart's Last Aria." There were things about it I liked but the book was ruined for me by the author's dim grasp of the Catholic Church. It also seemed as if he were going to pin something on it. I don't know for sure because I ran out of gas with that book about 20 pages from the end. Here it was this whodunit and I never found out whodunit!

Back to Colloredo. His petty nastiness to Mozart will resonate with anyone who has ever had a bad boss. And because of it he has achieved a strange kind of immortality. He was a pain to this musician, Wolfgang Mozart, and to the whole family. For that reason, and only that reason, he is remembered. You can do a Google Images search on him, as I just did, and pictures come up. Along with pictures of Mozart.

When you are immortal, like Mozart, you are not immortal alone. You take a whole host of people with you into the history books.

Nobodies who would otherwise be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mozart steps again from behind the curtain

A new book about Mozart is like some kind of new drug. At least that is how I would imagine it would be were I, ahem, a drug user. What I mean is that it is a guilty pleasure.

Guilty, because I have been reading books on Mozart since I was 6. I mean that, I think 6 is when I started!

Howard said: "What is there going to be in there that you don't know?"

You never know!

Anyway, this new book is by Paul Johnson who writes short biographies. That is his specialty. I could learn a thing or two from him, you know? His "Mozart: A Life" tops out at 163 pages.

But already I am seeing things that are different and that I like. For one thing Paul Johnson does not seem as ignorant about the Catholic Church as a lot of Mozart writers do. You cannot write about Mozart -- or Beethoven -- and be a screw-up when it comes to the Catholic Church. The Church was central to Mozart's life. I like Paul Johnson for addressing this.

Here is another thing. Leopold Mozart considered his son a miracle and he actually saw him as an opportunity to evangelize.

Johnson says Leopold wrote: "If it is ever to be my duty to convince the world of this miracle, it is so now, when people are ridiculing whatever is called a miracle and denying all miracles. Therefore they must be convinced."

I am reading that thinking: Wow, the 18th century, and the Catholic Church was on the ropes same as it is now! I honestly had not known that.

Also, God love old Leopold, you know? This book seems more fair to him than some other books do.

I will be going into all this in more depth in my review for The Buffalo News, coming up soon. Meanwhile I can't wait to get through the rest of this.

Which reminds me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The toughest job in the music world

Who in the world needs this job? It is in Musical America. It is as an artist's personal assistant.

This sounds like a pretty eminent artist, but all that is clear is that the artist is based in Chicago. It would be a good guessing game to try to figure out who it is.

The personal assistant will be expected to:
  • Handle incoming and outgoing correspondence via phone, fax, mail, and e-mail
  • Maintain personal and professional schedules and coordinate with family, artist management, publicity team, presenters, and philanthropic organizations
  • Monitor and update professional website content (e.g. tour dates), bios, blogs, Facebook, etc.
  • Prepare newsletters, tweets, and other materials announcing upcoming performances, new podcasts, recordings, videos, etc.
  • Arrange travel, visas, and accommodations
  • Perform basic accounting tasks
  • Monitor merchandise inventory and fill customer orders
  • Assist employer and employer’s family with daily household tasks, errands, and basic home maintenance
  • Perform a variety of activities to allow the employer and the employer’s family to focus on their individual jobs and activities
These duties are enough to make your head spin! Basic home maintenance! Just that by itself, forget it.

Who in the world could do this job?

There was one time when I kind of hit it off with this one artist I was interviewing for The Buffalo News and he was suggesting that maybe I could be his personal assistant. A few emails went back and forth, enough to make me believe he was not totally kidding. I liked and admired this artist and I have to say I considered the offer. For about five minutes.

Then I realized it involved making travel arrangements.

"Oh, no," I said. "I'm not good at that."

"Well, it wouldn't be that difficult --"

"Oh, no," I said. "No, no. I really couldn't. I'm not organized enough."

What a nightmare, the idea of me making anyone's travel arrangements! He would be due to be in Portland, Ore., and I would have him in Portland, Maine. On top of all that stress I would have had to move to New York City, another minus. See, this was discussed. I told you he was serious.

Now reading this ad I am super glad I went no further with that idea. What an onerous job being a personal assistant must be. What a weight on the shoulders!

Oh, no thank you!