Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mozart's Proverbs

As we prepare for the "Flutists Happy Birthday to Mozart," I went back to Maynard Solomon's biography of Mozart to find some fun facts to fuel our imaginations.

Chapter 22, "The Zoroastran Riddles" gives a glimpse of Mozart's love of word play, and how this play was a large part of his relationship with his father, Leopold.

On February 19, 1786, at a masquerade ball during the Viennese carnival, a masquerader dressed in the Oriental robes of a philosopher handed out copies of proverbs and riddles entitled "Excerpts from the Fragments of Zoroaster."  Of course, the masquerader was Mozart himself, and the riddles and proverbs were his own.

None of these copies exist today, but Leopold refers to them in letters to family members.    In 1786, the relationship between father and son was very strained.  These fragments, or proverbs, made Leopold very proud, so much so that he had them published in the Saltzburg Oberdeutsch Staats Zeitung, which is why these few survive today.

Here are some of my favorites for your edification!

1.  Say much-speak evil; but in the end it goes without saying that all eyes and ears will be upon you.

4.  I prefer open vice to ambiguous virtue; at least I know where I stand.

10.  It won't do for everyone to be modest; only great men can be so.

11.  If you are poor but clever, arm yourself with patience: work.  If you don't grow rich, you will at least remain a clever man.-If you are an ass but rich, then use your perogatives: be lazy.  If you don't become poor, you will at least remain an ass.

12.  The most reliable and tender way to please a lady is to speak evil of her rivals.  How many men are not women in this respect?

Finally: Music must never hurt the ear.

As musicians, we often hear proverbs in our lessons.  One of my favorite from Trudy Kane is:"The short note always goes to the long note."  I use this all the time when I teach-it can get a line moving just by thinking about it.  Or, from Murray Panitz: "In matters of pitch there is no right or wrong; only flexible or inflexible."

I have a few of my own that I keep threatening to put in a collection. "He who hesitates is late."  Or: "Technique is the handmaiden of the musical imperative."

Do you have proverbs you have heard or that you use when teaching?  Let us know!  Make a comment on this blog.  the best proverb(s) will receive the Barenreiter edition of the Mozart D Major Concerto.

The rules: must be related to music and the flute.  Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Here's another one: "You will hear that for which you listen." I can't remember where I heard this one...