Mozart died aged 35.
That’s rather sobering really. If I had wanted to keep up that would mean I would have just three and a half years left to write 600+ pieces of music, including around 41 symphonies, 25 concertos and 20 or so operas.
Mozart’s music has certainly left a legacy that I doubt he could ever have dreamed of.
But I’m getting ahead of myself….
Work is particularly exciting at the moment – tons of super talented, interesting new artists are releasing some incredible music and plenty of not-so-new ones certainly are too. It’s tough trying to decide what to lend my ears to!
Last week the young German soprano Mojca Erdmann (pronounced Moy-tza Aird-mahn) was in Sydney, getting ready to board the MS Europa- a luxury German cruiseliner that boasts the title of being the only five and a half star cruise ship in the world. Mojca has the rather sweet job of performing three concerts on the ship while it spends three weeks sailing down to New Zealand and Fiji.
Mojca had just finished her debut album ‘Mostly Mozart’ which is set to be released in Europe and the US in April but because she was coming to visit us first, Australia became the very first territory in the world to launch her album.
And launch it we did.
Mojca performed at a special showcase on Tuesday evening with about 50 esteemed media and guests, including the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, who made a stirring introductory speech.
During the evening, the exceptionally knowlegable and uber classical enthusiast, Cyrus Meher-Homji, joined Mojca on stage and they had a quick Q&A about why she chose to record an album full of Mozart and some of the other composers who surrounded Mozart back in the day (around 1785).
Starting out as a child prodigy, Mozart had a pretty darn interesting and colourful life, both musically and socially. You can get plenty of fascinating info on Mozart here, including the goss on him performing at a very young age at the famous Schonbrun Palace where he was an instant hit and he leaped off the stage and onto the lap of a gorgeous older woman. After she helped him up (with much inappropriate flirting), Mozart innocently asked her, for all to hear, “Will you marry me?”.
Just the Archduchess Maria Antonia, the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette.
(If we were turning this into a modern day movie right now, I reckon the Palace would be substituted for the GRAMMYs and Justin Bieber could play Mozart and Kim Kardashian could be Marie Antoniette).
What’s so cool about Mozart is, unlike any other composer in musical history, he wrote in all the musical genres of his day. Again, chuck him into the 21st Century and that’s like a songwriter today writing music across pop, rock, country, jazz AND classical.
Fair enough, there are some composers that can do this – just think about the flexibility of film composers. But does any songwriter of today have several #1 smash hits in each of the above genres? Um, no.
Did Mozart? Hell, yes!
He excelled in every one. Mozart’s musical taste was so on the money. His command of form, of subtlety, of a catchy tune and his range of expression have made him the most universal of all composers – a perfect all-rounder. He was the ultimate in writing popular music that people wanted to hear, and that people still want to hear, hundreds of years later!
I asked Mojca what it is about Mozart that was so appealing to her and her response was pretty straight forward;
“Classical music, and especially Mozart’s music, goes directly into my heart and soul. Mozart was a genius and the magic of his music is not possible to be described by words. If you haven’¢t listened to Mozart, I urge you to give him a try.”
So I was going to end it here but Mojca also answered some other questions while she was here which I thought you might also be interested in…
How did you get started as a singer?
I’ve always sung and started as a small child as a member of children’s chorus. At the age of 14 I got my first private singing lessons and suddenly it was very obvious for me that I wanted to become a professional singer. As a singer you can put all your emotions through your voice and into the music and can reach the audience directly. I was fortunate to be brought up in Germany as I think there is no other country in the world that has as many opera houses as Germany does. We also have a lot of wonderful orchestras and concert halls, so you can have work as a singer in Germany.
What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Professionally, I am very grateful and happy having recorded my first solo album “Mostly Mozart” for the label Deutsche Grammophon – DG is the oldest and most prestigious classical label in the world so it’s an honor. I’ve also just completed a half marathon.
Wow! So you’re a fitness kind of girl?
Yes, I like doing sports a lot – jogging, yoga, cycling, having nice walks through beautiful nature. Nature is very important for me, it’s quite inspirational musically and, whenever it is possible I try to spend time outside at beautiful places – in silence.
And there’s no rest for this soprano stunner, as soon as she finishes her trip on the MS Europa, she has a variety of different concerts in Spain, recitals in Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg, a concert tour with works by composer Gustav Mahler to Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo and in the European Summer, she’s involved in a new recording of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni for Deutsche Grammophon.
Possibly even more exciting for Mojca is what’s coming at the end of this year – heading to New York in September for three months where she’ll have her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as she sings the role of, yep, you guessed it, Zerlina, in a new production of Don Giovanni.
Marathons, Mozart, is there nothing Mojca can’t do?
“Well, I did have to write “left” and “right” on my hands when I was going for my drivers license because I kept getting them muddled up”, she admits with a rueful smile.