Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is Mozart overrated?

Well, it's officially here — it’s the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth Saturday, and all the attendant hyperbole and hoopla will get an official kickoff. I’m suggesting it’s not all warranted.

I own nearly 500 classical CDs and can count my Mozart CDs on the fingers of my two hands. He doesn't make the Top 10 of my classical composer playlist. He's certainly not No. 1 or 2. And who is that Top 10? ...

Going by sevens, my Top Seven are Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. My Second Seven would be Handel, Schubert, Bruckner, Rachmaninoff, Schnittke, Penderecki, and Elliott Carter, I believe. That second seven is not as written in stone, but Mozart would not make the top seven at all.

Oh, by the way, some of you Mozart idolators might need to listen to some 20th century classical music. Start with the last three I listed. Add some Ernst Krenek. Throw in some late, serialist Stravinsky.

Child prodigy/voluminous output by itself does not make a genius. Saint-Saens was also a child prodigy; why does nobody discuss him like Mozart?

If you pressed me, there are two -- and only two -- must-have works of his; the Symphony No. 40 and the Requiem.

Otherwise, much of his early work was dilletantish salon music.

That said, here in Dallas, the Fine Arts Chamber Players is having a special at the Dallas Museum of Art Saturday. I'll be there.

It's free, and I never say no to free classical music.

Oh, and if you want a classical music birth anniversary to celebrate, circle Sept. 23 on your calendars. That will be the centennial of Shostakovich's birth.

More next week on details of why I think Mozart has gotten to be overrated; it's embargoed for now, as it's my newspaper column for next week.

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