Getting Fresh With Mozart

“He wrote about 650 pieces; why do we always hear the same old six?”

Gavin Borchert in Seattle Weekly:

Mozart_2It’s Mozart’s 250th birthday, and almost as prevalent as concerts of his music are complaints by critics that everyone plays Mozart all the time anyway. How do you keep standard repertory fresh and bring in audiences in such a situation? With Mozart’s birth (1756) and death (1791) both celebrated every 50 years, we’ve barely had time to get over the 1991 party.

Any music festival’s first responsibility in programming, I suppose, is to justify itself—to convince concertgoers that saturation bombing of Composer X (or Period Y or Geographic Region Z) is warranted. Among a somewhat halfhearted collection of standard-repertory symphonies and concertos, the Seattle Symphony’s January Mozart festival took an oddly funereal tone with a performance of his Requiem. No doubt, there were some concertgoers puzzled that it was his birth, not his death, that was being observed—not to mention that the SSO plays the work every year anyway, and it’s only half by Mozart.

More here.