4/03/2010

A Little Night Music

I am not what you would call a classical music lover and when my wife suggested that we attend a Mozart Concert in Vienna, I agreed trying not to show my lack of enthusiasm. I enjoy listening to all types of music, but going to live concerts is not my thing. Why do people spend hundreds of dollars to sit in a torturously hard seat with no legroom to watch their favorite performers on a “jumbotron”, because you need binoculars to see them on the distant stage? I am good for about thirty minutes before I start to squirm and wish I did not have to crawl over thirty people to get to the snack bar … even at the George Strait concert last year.

We were headed to Vienna on a tour, it was Mozart’s hundredth birthday or something; so what the heck.

We broke away from the tour and somehow we found the tiny concert hall buried in a monastery, no less. It was the monastery of the German Teotonic Order. Mozart actually lived there in about 1781. Recognizing his genius, Archbishop Colloredo, invited him to live and work there rent-free. From time to time, he gave concerts in a tiny chapel that was converted into a miniature concert hall that would only seat about 50 people.

Since, Mozart was sort of “New Age” in his time, the bishop redecorated the room to Mozart’s wishes, covering the walls with flamboyant baroque nude figures … interesting choice for a monastery.

We took our seats on hard chairs, crowded together. The musicians entered the room and stepped up on a small riser that was located where the altar would have been in the chapel. It was quartet with a flute, violin, cello, and a viola (I think) and they were dressed in costumes of the period. Then they started to play with no introduction.

The acoustics were phenomenal and being within a few feet of the players, I could feel every vibrato and resonant note in my chest. The strings literally made my heart sing. There was no squirminess or discomfort in my knees, no urge to get to the snack bar. In what seemed like a few minutes it was over … I wanted more.

I finally understood, at least, a little of what the big flap about Mozart was all about.
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