Web Classy Classical

Click Here For The Wall Street Journal

Buy Classical Music at

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lebrecht Says Too Much Mozart Makes You Sick

Norman Lebrecht from La Scene Musicale has thoroughly discredited himself and, also, caused an outcry of outrage on message boards and blogs all over with his recent article entitled "Too much Mozart makes you sick."

Lebrecht shows that he is completely unfamiliar with the works and history of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His article is full of inaccuracies. He goes as far as to state that Mozart's music is "lively, melodic and dissonance free." Has he only listened to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik?!? I'd love to know how few of Mozart's works Mr. Lebrecht has heard to make such a blanket generalization. After all, Mozart wrote a string quartet that is called the "Dissonance quartet!"

Even more outrageous is Mr. Lebrecht's statement that Mozart "failed to take music one step forward." What a preposterous thought! Mozart excelled in every form of music he tried his hand at. For instance, he practically invented the Piano Quintet. His combinations of instruments and expirementation with various forms of music were extremely unique and carried an enormous amount of influence on to future generations of composers.

Mr. Lebrecht appears to hold Haydn in high regard saying that he "
invented the sonata form without which music would never have acquired its classical dimension." Well, Mr. Lebrecht, did you know that Haydn himself said that Mozart was the greatest composer known to him and that Mozart had the most profound knowledge of composition. Could Haydn have not known what he was talking about, Mr. Lebrecht?!

Apparently, Mr. Lebrecht has only given the music of Mozart a very shallow, surface listening at best. He claims that "
Mozart merely filled the space between staves with chords that he knew would gratify a pampered audience. He was a provider of easy listening, a progenitor of Muzak." Completely false!! Perhaps that is the beauty of Mozart's music. Many times the most simplistic sounding passages hold much more complexity than the listener actually realizes only to be discovered upon closer inspection. If Mr. Lebrecht would have done his research, he would know that much of Mozart's music was considered by audiences who first heard it to be too complex and contain too much dissonance. Mozart did not "pamper" the audience, and felt that it would be a disservice to his art to do so!

Lebrecht mentions Dmitri Shostakovich saying that he is
"a composer of true courage and historical significance." Sure, Shostakovich was a true talent, but to say that he has more "historical significance" than Mozart?!? Lebrecht has leaped off the cliff of absurdity and has fallen flat on his face with his crazy assertions.

However, Lebrecht saves his most shocking statements for last saying that "
Mozart has nothing to give to mind or spirit in the 21st century. Let him rest." I think you should give it a rest, Mr. Lebrecht! Perhaps you wrote this article with the intention of shocking readers and taking an opposite stance to almost every musicologist, philosopher or previous composer that ever lived. For you would be hard pressed to find any composer that did not regard Mozart as the supreme figure of musical history.

Certainly, you have garnered a lot of attention for yourself. However, I bet this wasn't the kind of attention you wanted. You have discredited yourself in my eyes and in those of pretty much every other reader who knows anything.

Thus, Mr. Lebrecht, my stance is that Mozart will have plenty to give to the mind and spirit in the 21st century whereas you have nothing but nonsense and ignorance to contribute. So perhaps you are the one who should be "left to rest."

Other reactions can be found at:
Classical Watch
The Mozart Forum
The Classical Music Guide Forums

Get 50 FREE MP3s!


Subscribe: +Yahoo | +Newsgator | +Bloglines | +Rojo | +Google | +Newsburst | +AOL | +MSN | +Blogroll

Translate: Español | Deutsche | Français | Italiano | Português

Comments on "Lebrecht Says Too Much Mozart Makes You Sick"


Anonymous ap said ... (10:33 AM, December 16, 2005) : 

Thanks for helping bring attention to this article, and getting others to express their feelings to Lebrecht's editor.


Anonymous Jennifer Grucza said ... (11:54 AM, December 16, 2005) : 

Piano quintet? I didn't know Mozart wrote any piano quintets. Oh, unless you mean with wind instruments. I guess technically they're piano quintets too.

Sounds like he was trying to stir up controversy (I haven't actually read his article). It's a shame, though, if it discourages newcomers to classical music - either by causing them to avoid listening to Mozart, or to doubt their own ears when they love his music.

By the way, I think you can't get much better than the Mozart string quintets.


Anonymous audio visual hire melbourne said ... (2:06 AM, January 22, 2011) : 

Great article. Thanks for keep me notify with this gorgeous news. I agree with the guy. I don't know anyone who is 'stirred' by Mozart's Classical Elevator Music. And don't get me started on playing the stuff. I enjoyed my finger excercises more than learning a new Mozart.


Anonymous Jack Graham said ... (2:01 AM, October 18, 2017) : 

Very well said. I have learned a lot of things about the piano lesson. I hope to read more from your blog. Thanks for sharing your good thoughts!


post a comment