Throwbacklist Thursday: The original rock star

The Beatles catalog, not including various remixes and bootlegs and all the other whatnot of beloved musical outfits, comes in at 217 songs, about ten hours of music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, on the other hand, is about to drop a boxed set so massive it makes the Fab Four look like Martha and the Muffins.

Of course, Mozart’s career as a child prodigy gives him a head start, but it’s still a statistically boggling release: 200 CDs holding over 4,000 tracks that come to 240 hours of music. The classical colossus will appear on October 28 to celebrate the wondrous Austrian’s 225th birthday. Today, UIP honors WAM in anticipation of his big day, knowing that 225 years old is just a blip for a first ballot immortal.

sollers mozartMysterious Mozart, by Philippe Sollers, translated and with an introduction by Armine Kotin Mortimer
Last seen writing on Casanova, Philippe Sollers brought his idiosyncratic melding of biography and self-portrait to bear on Mozart. Alternately oblique and searingly, Mysterious Mozart is Sollers’s interpretation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s oeuvre and lasting mystique, audaciously reformulated for the postmodern age.

With a mix of slang, abstractions, quotations, first- and third-person narratives, and blunt opinion, French writer and critic Philippe Sollers taps into Mozart’s playful correspondence and the lesser-known pieces of his enormous repertoire to analyze the popularity and public perceptions of his music. Detailing Mozart’s drive to continue producing masterpieces even when saddled with debt and riddled with illness and anxiety, Sollers powerfully and meticulously analyzes Mozart’s seven last great operas using a psychoanalytical approach to the characters’ relationships.

kindermanThe Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtág, by William Kinderman
In this fascinating study, William Kinderman opens the door to the composer’s workshop, investigating not just the final outcome but the process of creative endeavor in music. Focusing on the stages of composition, Kinderman maintains that the most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches, drafts, revised manuscripts, and corrected proof sheets. He explores works of major composers from the eighteenth century to the present, from Mozart’s piano music and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in F to Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments and Hommage à R. Sch. Other chapters examine Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, and Bartók’s Dance Suite.

Kinderman’s analysis takes the form of “genetic criticism,” tracing the genesis of these cultural works, exploring their aesthetic meaning, and mapping the continuity of a central European tradition that has displayed remarkable vitality for over two centuries, as accumulated legacies assumed importance for later generations. Revealing the diversity of sources, rejected passages and movements, fragmentary unfinished works, and aborted projects that were absorbed into finished compositions, The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtág illustrates the wealth of insight that can be gained through studying how creators create.