Sunday, January 27, 2013

Brain food

Wolfgang Amadé Mozart was born this day, 27 January, 257 years ago. His incomparable music continues to inspire long after his short (and largely unappreciated) life ended.

Just over 231 years ago Mozart and Josepha von Auernhammer gave the first performance of Mozart's Sonata for 2 pianos K.448 in Vienna. In 1993 two less intelligent people at the University of California conducted an experiment that concluded that listening to this piece for 10 minutes was better for the brain than listening to a piece of rubbish, or nothing, for 10 minutes - duh! (and so began the craze for making babies listen to Mozart!). So go ahead, listen, and improve your IQ right now. And read on for a little bit more fun...

[Mozart Sonata for two pianos K.448 (1st movement
played by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Malcolm Frager,
written and first performed in 1781 (1964 recording)]

... below is Mozart's highly unflattering portrait of Josepha von Auernhammer (who apparently had a huge crush on the 25 year old Mozart):

22 August, 1781
Dear Friend
You may be surprised to know that I am getting married! Well let me tell you - when I walk down the street and hear this news - so am I! It seems that once again gossip is spreading across town. This time that I am to be married to one of my pupils - do you recall my student Fraulein Auernhammer? - and everywhere people are asking why would he take someone with a face like hers? Truly this is no idle comment... Michelangelo himself would have used her face as a model to portray the visage of hell in his Last Judgement! She is as fat as a farm pig and perspires so readily that it makes one quite sick to think about. To make matters worse, she dresses so scantily as to say plainly "look right here". True, there is plenty to see - but who would want to look! The sight is enough to strike one blind! One is truly punished if they let their eye wander! Let me assure you that there is no truth in the rumour - though it seems that the poor girl has fallen in love, longing, lust with me, and impresses herself on me at every occasion in an attempt to be attractive! She hogs my day and makes me squeeze next to her at the piano going over some tedious fingering. When I confronted her about these rumours she denied it with a laugh - but I know for a fact that she herself is responsible for spreading them. And I have it from a reliable source that she has even embellished our post wedding plans!!!!! Eventually I got mad at her and thus had to endure her tender reproaches. What is a poor composer to do? Though she has much promise as a pianist I will not be taken advantage of and I have resolved to see her less and less - so hopefully this thing will eventually die. All this after I have dedicated to her a set of sonatas and had Papa send from Salzburg some of my piano duets for us to play (though only ones written for 2 pianos for sure we could not play together on one!). Now I must rest. Relaying my trials exhausts me as much as if I had to endure them again in the flesh. Pray for me that I am not beset by nightmares. Good night dear friend - 1000 wishes to you and your family.
W. Mozart

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