Today is Mozart’s birthday and I feel compelled to write something about one of his more mysterious pieces in my opinion, the Fantasia in D minor for piano.
Karl Barth says:
“Mozart’s music is free of all exaggeration, of all sharp breaks and contradictions. The sun shines but does not blind, does not burn or consume. Heaven arches over the earth, but it does not weigh it down, it does not crush or devour it. Hence earth remains earth, with no need to support itself in a titanic revolt against heaven. Granted, darkness, chaos, death and hell do appear, but not for a moment are they allowed to prevail. Knowing all, Mozart creates music from a mysterious center, and so knows the limits to the right and the left, above and below. He maintains moderation.”
His Fantasia in D minor is a piece of Mozart’s that stands out from the rest of his catalog: it doesn’t even sound like it’s from the same era of classical music. One of my beliefs is Mozart was one of the bridges that allowed for Western music to become more expressive: this piece, noncommissioned, unfinished with only tempo markings, leaves plenty for the pianist to interpret. With ten bars missing, it is indeed up to us to figure out what was in the composers thoughts.
The piece seems to draw from the eras current and past: Baroque, Classical… and somehow dive into the future style of Romanticism. Is he portraying an individual unique style as often heard in Romanticism that isn’t found in his more structured and commission pieces we’re all familiar with? In his life, he had many difficult periods that he was experiencing that didn’t show in his joyful music: when I listen to Mozart’s Fantasia, I often wonder what was happening in his life? Could this piece be an introversion reflection?
“I never lie down at night without reflecting that —- young as I am — I may not live to see another day. Yet no one of all my acquaintances could say that in company I am morose or disgruntled.”
On his deathbed it is said he died saying he won the privilege of following his own feelings and composing as his heart desired; not chained to the wants of his benefactors. Thus, when you listen to this piece, as the melody creates rapid impressions, what ideal world is form in your own mind? I could think forever about his life and the emotions he wrote down in simple notes (not simple to express), but this sort of music is from an unknowable world… where even melancholy is a desired emotion.