Monday, October 4, 2010

Music Monday--Haydn Vs. Mozart

Well, I actually got a chance to teach about the guy on the right today.  It was so much fun to teach a music history lesson.  I love music history, and my story kept the students on the edge of their seats.  And it was true!  Go figure.  Kids  today getting excited about an old dead guy and his outdated music??  Maybe I'm a better teacher than I thought.

I thought I would do something a little different tonight.  These two men lived during the classical time period. Both wrote similar music.  There were some  distinct differences.  The obvious ones.  Franz Joseph Haydn lived from 1732-1809.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  lived from 1756-1789.  Mozart was a child  prodigy born into a wealthy family, or at least fairly wealthy.  Haydn was a choir boy from a poor family.  Haydn worked for  Prince Esterhazy for 40 years.  Mozart worked for no one--he was a freelance musician, the first of his kind.   Mozart was an absolute musical genius.  Haydn enjoyed a good musical joke. 

These are just the normal differences between two composers.  But I want to take this  a step further.  I can't prove everything  I am going to state, but I can infer it based on what I know  of these two composers.

Haydn was mostly an agreeable sort of man.  He was a fine employee who worked very well for royalty.  He swallowed his pride, and he did what was expected.  He had his ways of getting his point across if he hadn't been paid or if he was overworked.  It is said that he used to pray to God for ideas for the music he wrote.  He wrote many sacred works as well as secular works.  But it would seem that he relied on God to help him with his work.  And I think it shows.  Haydn is remembered as being an upright man.  I have never read anything negative about him.  He was never quoted with a foul mouth.  While he was a bit of a prankster, he did it through music.  

When we look at the life of Mozart, we  come across a very different sort of  person.  Indeed, he was a musical genius who lived a very busy, fast-paced life.  He even grew up in the Catholic church.  His father worked for the church, and teenager Mozart worked for the church as well.  Until he told off his boss with some foul words (yes, his boss was in the wrong too) and he was fired and literally kicked down the steps.  I'm not  joking--really.  I never forgot that story from music history class in college.  He drank a lot.  He partied a lot.  Yes, he was married and had kids, but he seemed to always be in trouble.  He was too proud and arrogant to work for someone  like Haydn did.  He was always living well about his means.  And once he got money, he spent it and borrowed more.  I find it interesting that it was as he wrote a commissioned Requiem that he died.  A Requiem is a mass for the dead.  He never finished it.  He died in debt, and a genius.  But kind of a lonely genius.  No one attended his funeral!  No one knows where he is buried.  Goodness, what a sad life!  We never see him turning to God for any reason.  

So, what is my point?  Am I trying to say that one is better than the other?  Without a doubt, Mozart is the better composer and musician.  And who do my students typically know?  Mozart, not Haydn.  Mozart's music is often featured in movies, TV shows, ads, and much more. And Haydn?  If you're lucky, you'll hear about his Surprise Symphony.

Okay, so Mozart who lived a short, wild, musical life is remembered more than Haydn.  But let's look at eternity, shall we?  Now, I'm not going to say that I am God and know their eternal destiny, but I look for clues in historical figures.  I enjoy trying to figure out if the people were devoted to God or not.  My theory is that Mozart lived a secular life and only wrote religious music when it was required.  Haydn, I think, wrote both secular and sacred music as a result of his relationship with God.  He  relied on God for strength in the every day realm as well as the musical realm.  Haydn was a humble man who probably met His Savior the moment he died.  Mozart, unfortunately, died a very tragic, lonely death and met something very different upon his death.  Just my opinion.

And why do I care?  I hope and pray that I can live a life where I rely on God for everything.  May I never get up in front of a classroom without God speaking through me.  May I never be too proud to do what God asks no matter how lowly it may seem.  May I realize that it is not about me, but that it is about God!   

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