January 2006

Mozart's Birthday Doesn't Go Unnoticed!

I. Mozart's Birthday Thoughts
II. Student Paintings
III. Austria Celebrates
IV. Mozart Effect Resource

Birthday Thoughts

Well, yesterday was Mozart's 250th birthday and what a fantastic day it was around the world. I turned on my car radio about 2:00, just in time to hear a broadcast live from Salzburg, Austria, Mozart's hometown. Bells were pealing loudly and a concert of Mozart's music was just beginning. Immediately my memory went back to 1999 when I was in Salzburg with my oldest daughter, visiting all the Mozart spots: his birth house, the Mozarteum, castles and churches where his music was played and performed. It still is hard to imagine a genius of this caliber, a child prodigy who traveled all over Europe with his father and older sister Nannerl, also a child prodigy. A famous painting exists depicting Mozart sitting on the lap of Maria Theresa.

According to http://www.wien.info/article.asp?IDArticle=12233 a Viennese travel site:

Leopold Mozart proved a successful manager to his children: In 1762 the Mozart children traveled to Vienna for several months, where they played to Empress Maria Theresa in the hall of mirrors at Schönbrunn Palace. After the concert, quite unabashed, Wolferl jumped up onto the empress’s lap, hugged and kissed her. The child prodigy, a little man with a powdered wig and miniature dagger, was the talk of the town.

When Mozart was about 12 years old, he returned to  Vienna on a concert tour and was granted a two-hour audience with Empress Maria Theresa, something very rare indeed.



Mozart's entire life was so "unreal" by modern standards or even standards then, that it is difficult to grasp what traveling the countryside in a horse-drawn carriage must have entailed. His life must have constantly run the gamut from near-poverty to literally, the lap of luxury. No wonder that as an adult he never learned to manage his money, his health, or relationships. When he died in his wife's arms in 1791, he had no money and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Despite this Mozart's music was very popular in his day and he received as many commissions as he could keep up with. During his life he wrote 19 operas, among other things.

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Student Paintings

Today I heard a beautiful story from a friend and fellow music-educator, Phyllis Free. Phyllis reported that she agreed to have a first grade class do water color painting while listening to music by Mozart. As she was walked around looking at student's paintings and talking with them individually about their work, she came upon a painting showing a human figure in a coffin, with other stick-figure drawings above and surrounding it, with cartoon bubbles filled with marks coming from their mouths. The boy who had painted the picture eagerly explained to me that "Somebody has died and these are people singing at the funeral."

Phyllis went on to say: "Since I had not given the students any information about the recording other than the fact that the music was composed by Mozart,I was absolutely blown away by this child's visual interpretation of the music. The recording I had played for them was Mozart's "Requiem." It occurs to me just how incredibly remarkable it is that Mozart could have spoken his musical language so eloquently that, more than two centuries later, a little first-grade boy could interpret it so clearly (and translate it into art)!! Remarkable composer. Remarkable first-grader! Cool, huh?"

Luckily, the celebration will continue all year, all over the world. If you don't know Mozart's music that well, this year would be a great time to listen to a symphony, a sonata, a concerto, or an opera by Mozart. And remember, live music is also better than recorded but a recording is better than missing out on this beautiful music. If I can help you, let me know!

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Austria Celebrates!

Here is a great Mozart site to see what is happening in Austria this year. 

Please let me know if you would like to attend any of the official events or just "go see what's happening.  I will be glad to help your plan your itinerary.  I can save you time, avoid frustration, point out places your shouldn't miss and put you in touch with special pricing.  Drop me an e-mail regarding your plans.

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Music Medicine Resources

My teacher and mentor, Don Campbell has written some of the most accessible and understandable books out there on the healing power of music. His most popular and best known book is “The Mozart Effect” and is based on the famous Mozart study that was done at the University of California, Irvine in the early 90’s. He also wrote Music, Physician for Times to Come” in the late 80’s and “Music and Miracles” in 1993. All of these books are compilations of chapters by different people on different aspects of music and healing, and all are wonderful resource books to have on your Music and Medicine shelf. Kay Gardner’s book “Sound the Inner Landscape” is becoming a classic and has a fascinating section at the end on how music will be used in the future. I would also recommend “Toning: the Power of the Voice” by Laurel Keyes. If you’re interested in learning to do vocal toning, this book, and my tape or CD on toning are ideal ways to get started. All can be purchased on my site at http://www.drcashprefers.com/amazon.htm.

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Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW


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