Today we played two outdoor concerts here in Salzburg, one in a picturesque garden once used in the Sound Of Music, the other in a park outside of the Mozarteum.
As we walked from one concert to the next, winding our way through idyllic city parks and streets, literally hundreds of years old, it was hard to not realize that we were walking in the footsteps of Mozart. After our second concert, our group posed for a picture in front of Mozart’s Geburtshaus.
As a musician, it seems like a rite of passage to trek halfway across the globe and pay our respects to arguably the greatest composer to ever live. Before there was ever Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler, there was Mozart. In the world of French Horn players, Mozart is held in particularly high esteem. Our entire solo repertoire begins and ends with Mozart. And while his works for the horn are wonderful pieces, they aren’t even his best works as he is known far more for his operas, symphonies, and piano concerti.
Why, after more than 220 years since his death, is he still so revered? For me, it is simply because Mozart’s music is the quintessential definition of refinement in an art form of unparalleled beauty and grace. More so than any composer before or since (at least in my humble opinion), Mozart clearly defines not just an entire age, but an entire genre. His music requires the utmost skill, grace, and purity of tone.
I believe that to this end, we were able to honor him here in Salzburg with our renditions of his music. And as we stood in front of his Geburtshaus afterward, realizing that we were standing in literally the same place Mozart had once stood, I had a tear in my eye, but also a smile on my face. Thank you, Wolfgang. I wonder if you ever realized in your lifetime just how much your music would touch people on a deep emotional level so many years later.
~ contributed by Dr. John McGuire, Assistant Professor of Horn, Colorado State University
~ Happy Birthday John – we’re all so thrilled that you had this experience on your special day!