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Culture

Uncommon Genius for the Common Man

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be feted worldwide this year. In an interview with DW-WORLD, Mozart expert Günther Bauer explains the undying fascination with the musical genius on what would have been his 250th birthday.

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Mozart's genius is felt equally by the aficionado and the common man

Professor Günther Bauer served for many years as rector of Salzburg University's Mozarteum, one of the leading Mozart research institutes worldwide.

DW-WORLD: Professor Bauer, assuming that Mozart wrote his music for his contemporaries, it seems only logical to ask about the reason for the continuing relevance of his work. Do we even know why we still love to listen to and perform Mozart?

Günther Bauer: That is the million-dollar question -- quite simply, because his music is so incredibly good.

To what extent does our picture of Mozart differ from earlier perceptions, and how is our picture of him influenced?

Our picture of Mozart today is influenced mainly through the total availability in the media, meaning that, today, we're in a position to access the complete works of Mozart, for example, in the form of CDs. That has the result that Mozart's work has spread, in massive quantities, around the entire globe.

Why is it though, that Mozart of all people, is the subject of such awe and admiration?

That again has to do with the uniqueness and quality of his music, it's as simple as that.

But can't this quality be pinpointed? Can we unearth the secret of Mozart and his genius?

He wanted to communicate both to us, the very simple, folk melodies that the average man on the street can quite easily whistle, and behind this, an incredibly difficult, complicated network of music that was both difficult to write and to perform. Mozart appeals equally to the most demanding music lovers and the cobbler on the street who can whistle along to "Figaro."

You often hear that Mozart's genius was simply a gift from God. But is it possible to discern a certain line of development in his body of work?

A line of development isn't really present in Mozart. The very first work listed in the Köchel catalogue of his compositions is a Mozart, perfect to the core. So in that sense, he didn't develop himself as a composer, he was a genius.

In your view, is there any prospect today of finding "the next Mozart?"

I can't really answer that, but my personal opinion is, no.

Why does it seem though, that despite some really maniacal parents, it's not possible to produce another talent like Mozart?

The maniacal parents don't really help us at all; the cultural background doesn't exist today in the same way it did in Mozart's time. There will always be geniuses, but a genius on the scale of Mozart only comes around once every few hundred years.

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