Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Even people who hate classical music would probably recognize Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. American advertisers have used it to hawk just about any product from Disneyworld to feminine hygiene deodorants. It conveys, I guess, an “olde worlde” charm, which Americans seem to lap up. This seems paradoxical since Americans also are so hell-bent on tearing down any building more than a few years old. If you really hit it big and want to show your friends that you have arrived, throw a big party and hire a string quartet, who probably can’t make a full-time living playing music, to saw away in the corner on Eine Kleine Nachtmusik while your guests suck down champagne and canapés. It’s the American dream-you can buy anything, even culture.

The first time I listened to it seriously was at the French House in 1974 or 1975. In my mind, I associate Eine Kleine Nachtmusik with a girl named Linda P****. Linda was one of the French House hangers-on, who had a mane of red hair and played the string bass. She had a breathy, delicate way of speaking, which she would employ when talking passionately, as she often did, about some piece of music or book she was reading in her comparative literature class. Like all musicians, Linda had a certain facility for languages, and in addition to French, she was also taking German. As I mentioned on another day, she also loved nature and was fond of identifying the various shrubs and trees. One day she and I were walking to the cafeteria, maybe talking about Mozart, or Faust, which she was reading, or plants. On the way we passed a huge conifer, which might have been a cypress, a larch or a Norwegian pine. I said to her, “How would you call that tree?” She quipped in her cutest voice, “Neine Kleine” (no little.) Which in context was a neat little pun.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik means “A Little Night Music” which is what the word, serenade, means. Serenades were for singing at night under the window of one’s beloved. I wonder whether Mozart had a particular woman in mind when he composed it. In form a serenade consists of several minuets, or dances pieces. Mozart opens his with an exuberant Allegro, which runs along at a breathtaking clip. In the second movement, he switches to a Romance, whose sweetness could indicate the passions released by a relationship. Next Mozart brings in a stately minuet, which he alternates with a melody played by a trio. The finale, in a bouree rhythm, returns to the dynamic and joyful energy of the first movement.

Mozart wrote this serenade at the ripe old age of 31. It’s catalogued as his 525th work. Some composers are known for a single work. Had Mozart only written Eine Kleine Nachtmusik his reputation would have been assured. But think scores of his other memorable works–symphonies, operas, quartets, concertos–and you realize were talking genius the size of a mountain here.

Download MP3 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik

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About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

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