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Re: I don't think that Gould hated Mozart, but:

You have justly trapped me in the web of my own rhetoric; it probably is
much too strong to say that Gould *hated* Mozart.  And your musical points
are very persuasive to me.  Gould's priorities certainly did not fit the
natural idiom of Mozart's music.  The same is true for Chopin too, but there
Gould simply preferred to leave the music alone.  He must have found enough
in Mozart to make the project a challenge: can I play this music in a way
that that emphasises my priorities and enables people to hear it in a
radically different, but valid, way?  As he said in his interview (doubtless
scripted by Gould) with Bruno Monsaigeon, the Mozart sonatas--in contrast to
the concertos--were, from his perspective, "fixable."  [GG Reader, p.32].

    BUT, I do think it is quite defensible to say that Gould disapproved of
Mozart and his music on moral grounds.  Gould viewed all art morally, I
think, and as the self-procalimed 'last Puritan,' he found Mozart's music
not just largely uninteresting and mediocre (as he says repeatedly to
Monsaigneon) but as somehow morally suspect.  Take his exchange with
Monsaigneon about sforzandos, where Gould says "I think they [sforzandos]
represent an element of theatricality to which my puritan soul strenuously
objects " (p. 36).  Somewhere (I thought in one of his self-interviews,
though I can't find the reference at the moment) Gould also is reproached
for his criticism of Mozart's compositions, and he says something like "Ah,
but I criticized them as products of a hedonistic lifestyle."  Finally, I
recall a story (perhaps from Friedrich?--I'm afraid I've lent mine out)
about a late-night meeting with a friend (maybe Tim Page?) when Gould
mentioned a famous Mozart pianio piece (not one of the sonatas) and sat down
to play it with, as per the description, 'complete contempt."  Gould
concluded by saying something like "That's the first and the last
performance of the [???] you'll ever hear from *me*."

    So 'hate' may indeed be too strong a term to apply to Gould's feelings
about Mozart, but I do think Gould saw Mozart as a part of the process by
which Western Art went wrong.  When Monsaigneon chides Gould for ignoring
dynamic changes and tempo markings in Mozart, Gould responds "Sure.  They
belong to an era which I often wish would just go away" (p. 35).  In this
regard, we might recall as well his description of Mozart as a composer "who
died too late rather than too soon."

----- Original Message -----
From: "Max Kuenkel" <agent8698@SEATAC.NET>
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2000 1:47 AM
Subject: I don't think that Gould hated Mozart, but:

> I don't think that Gould hated Mozart. But I think that Gould had a set
> of musical priorities that would not fit into Mozart's shoes, hence
> Mozart sounds forced and distorted, because Gould the rebel wanted to walk
> mile in Mozart's shoes to make this statement: " To all you who say that
> Mozart's shoes MUST FIT ME: you're wrong, they don't fit, look here, see?
> There are other shoes besides Mozart's (other sets of musical
>  I don't know if Gould ever talked about his musical priorities, except
> when he said, approximately, that any music that meant a lot to him was
> contrapuntal in nature.
>  Amazingly, Gould never talked about rhythm (or did he?), yet rhythm was
> first musical priority and is the most instantaneously recognizable
> of his playing, right there in the foreground at all times (I mean that he
> subordinates all other aspects of his playing under an iron-willed sense
> rhythmic drive or at least rhythmic organization). Maybe he took that for
> granted the way he took his pianistic skills for granted and never talked
> about them, either.
> His second priority was harmony, which for him includes contrapuntal
> elaboration of harmony. This he talked about quite a bit.
> His third or lowest, by far, priority was melody (as such): you never hear
> him talking about that (or did he?). He did not worship melody as such,
> which is why he didn't know what to do with Italian Opera. He loved rhythm
> first and then harmony/contrapuntal elaboration of harmony. I doubt
> that he acknowledged the existence of  "melody" as an independent musical
> element. I think that he could not conceive of  "melody" except as an
> extension or elaboration of some specific integration of rhythm and
> harmony, like the Goldberg Variations, that heavyweight piece of music of
> which it can be said that the main melody (Aria), as a melody, is not part
> of the essence of the piece, but rather just another variation or
> elaboration.
>  Mozart puts melodies on the table and starts building with those and
> them the  highest rank in the compositional hierarchy (I think?), whereas
> for Gould, melodies are surface, not depth,  variations, not theme,
> elaboration of substance rather than substance itself. I believe that for
> Gould even a fugue theme, like the one from "The Art of", was not
> that can stand on its own, some kind of absolute melody, but rather, I
> guess, he probably thought of that theme as a mere reason for the
> contrapuntal elaborations to exist, which would sort of reverse things and
> turn the elaborations into the primary substance, and the theme from which
> they are derived into a derivative of some sort (??).
> I admit, by now I'm getting a little confused: maybe this is one of those
> "chicken-and-egg" situations. Did melody exist first or harmony, in