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Mozart is, according to Classic FM "the greatest composer who ever lived"

Members of the PNC would heartily disagree with this and they do wonder if Dvorak was having an off day when he said "Mozart is sunshine"1

The world has gone particularily mad this year (2006) as it is 250 years since Mozart was born. Its also 100 years since Shostakovitch (or "Shozzer" as he's known to PNC) was born but everyone seems to have forgotten this. It is worth noting that although we have a game Russian Composer Doms which partly honours Shozzer, there is no such - and never will be - recognition of Mozart, of whom Frederick Delius said "If a man tells me he likes Mozart, I know in advance that he is a bad musician"

At this stage, it may be worth mentioning Glenn Gould's view that "Mozart was a bad composer who died too late rather than too early"

In summary, we're with Maria Callas when she said "Most of Mozart's music is dull" although we feel it's a bit too generous.

And from the (grossly over-rated) man himself - "I really do not aim at any originality". Which is just as well. Take any major musical form you like, and look at its development in the classical period. You'll find Haydn and Beethoven were the ones that did the work that developed the symphony, the string quartet, the oratorio, the concerto, the instrumental sonata,and even opera into the daring shapes they took on in the 19th century. Not Mozart. You could take Mozart out of muscial history altogether and the path of musical development would not change one iota. Take Haydn or Beethoven out and we'd be in a very different place by 1850.

Proof of the pudding is in the fact that the works of other composers (notably Michael Haydn) have regularly been assumed to have been by Mozart, before being discovered to be by their original composers. No doubt Mozart was good, and facile. He was no doubt a talented musician. But he wasn't the god that the likes of Classic FM make him out to be. As a composer of his generation, he was average, except perhaps in terms of productivity.

  • 1 : Unless he meant that too much of it can give you cancer.