Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music Challenge Day 1- Listen to a Composer You Hate

This week I challenged our social media buddies and myself to get outside of their usual comfortable realm of listening. Four days of boundary pushing (some light lifting, some not so light). Here are my thoughts from each day.

DAY 1: Listen to a Composer You Hate

Confession time, Internet.

I hate Mozart.
It's not personal. It's musical.

And here we go.
Anyone: But he was a child genius!
Me: I know.

A: But he revolutionized the world of music in both performance and composition!

M: I know.

A: But he WAS the classical era!

M: I know.

A: But you like opera. He wrote some great operas. Lots of them!

M: "Great" is a relative term. If you mean too long to be justified by the content, then...yes.

A: Not even Nozze?

M: Nope. I can stand it, but just barely.

A: Cosi?
M: Ugh.

A: What about the choral music?
M: Meh. Some of it is okay.

A: Everyone likes the Requiem!

M: It's all right, I guess.

A: And Amadeus! Did you see Amadeus?!

M: Yep.

A: Didn't you like it?

M: Nope.

A: ...was it the powdered wigs?

M: Yeah, that's it. That's exactly it. That's the reason behind my ire for the entire output of an absurdly prolific composer.

So that's how it usually goes. I'm not known for writing composers off in such a manner. I'm not trying to be snarky. In point of fact, I always say that I'll listen to just about anything to make my ears smarter. And I will, even with Mozart. ONCE.
It doesn't change the fact that I basically dislike his music. True, it's genius composition. True, it's unparalleled in it's classical-ness. True, I could never compose anything an nth as impressive or lasting. I'm just not a fan.

So today I listened to Mozart. All day, marathon listening. Piano trios, symphonies, operas, string quartets, choral works, everything. I put aside my historical disdain and opened up my ears. It was at once harrowing and humbling.

Because I still dislike Mozart. I wanted to come out of this loving his music, feeling freshly washed and clean, wrapped in beauty and classical symmetry. But it didn't happen that way. At the end of my listening project I just wanted to hear something that wasn't balanced and proper. I wanted to hear something that could make me weep at my desk with flayed emotion, something that confused my ear or beat it into submission. Something that said something. Maybe if I wanted better results I should have not started with My Number One Big Issue. You live and learn.

The only thing I can really say for the experience is "I tried again." At least I didn't just write off the composer because of my leftover feelings about his work. I checked my old opinions against new experience, so it's not just an untested, ridiculous prejudice. But I recognize the gifts that he had and the beauty he gave to the world. It's just not my cup of tea.

Jedem Tierchen sein Pläsirchen.

Pro musica (all of it!),

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