Thursday, February 26, 2009

Amadeus - 3 miles at a time

I try to run 3 miles 4-5 times a week. In winter this is a bit more difficult due to shorter amounts of daylight (I usually leave for work before sunrise and get home after sunset) as well as colder and wetter weather. For such times when I can't easily run my outside route I have an elliptical machine to help compensate.

Nothing replaces actually running but one advantage the elliptical affords is that I get to listen to more music as I exercise. (When outside I don't listen to music as I prefer to hear approaching vehicles and other sounds - like dogs.) I started out the winter listening to my favorite contemporary band - Coldplay. But, their five CDs didn't last very many exercise sessions.

I have been a huge lover of classical music since my college days and this winter I took the opportunity to listen to all of Mozart's 27 piano concertos in chronological order. Generally, I could get at least one full concerto in during every running session. I listened to some concertos more than once along with some of Mozart's delightful rondos.

The development of the child prodigy from a playful, dexterous composer into a mature master filled with complex musical progressions and diverse themes is rather obvious even to an untrained amateur such as myself, if the body of work is experienced in the order it was composed.

To me, the greatest body of symphonies belongs to Mahler, the greatest string quartets to Beethoven (perhaps the best piano sonatas too), but Mozart is unequalled in his piano concertos.

Unfortunately, although I have read a lot about the history of music and have hundreds of classical recordings in my personal collection, the fact that I have never been trained in music severely handicaps my ability to articulate why I find any piece of classical music enjoyable. I just know what I like.

So here's some examples...

Compare Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 1 performed by a contemporary child prodigy with his last (No. 27) in a historical performance by one of the great pianists of the 20th century.

No. 12 is considered among the best compositions of Mozart's "middle period".

The adagio movement from No. 23 is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed.

My favorite is No. 20. The first movement is noted as allegro. The second movement is noted as romanze. The third movement is noted as allegro assai.

Mozart was a meteor across the artistic sky of humanity. His talent was not fully appreciated during his lifetime. He died poor and was buried in a common grave. But his enduring talent has been a bright part of this past winter...3 miles at a time.

I wonder if the work of Coldplay will be performed some 220 years from now.

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