Like a Fairy Tale without a Happy Ending

Excerpts from the book “Fairytale Art for Mozart”

Apparently, Mozart’s pet songbird could whistle a few bars of his piano concert in G major (K. 453). Did Mozart live in a magic world we love to hear stories about, even if we find them unbelievable? The prelude to his marriage, too, resembles a love story with obstacles the couple had to overcome to be united. Father Leopold was exasperated when Mozart decided to leave Salzburg and embark on the insecure life of a freelancer. Also, he did not approve of his son’s wife Constanze. Maybe this was why Wolfgang hardly mentioned his father’s passing in 1787, while dedicating a long obituary to his “star songbird”, which died around the same time. If we try to judge Mozart’s life in the simplistic terms of fairy tales, based on our conventional ideas of “good” and “bad”, we inevitably encounter contradictions. Like many fairy tales, the “Magic Flute” has two parts. Its heroes wear fantastic feathered costumes and face difficulties they have to overcome or be saved from. Finally, the objects of their longing are manifested in a happy ending. In fairy tales, too, paradoxes are so common they hardly even appear as such. Clearly divided into good and bad at first, in the second part, the world of “The Magic Flute” suddenly turns upside down. Who is good, and who is bad now? Maybe, this was the reason the first performance conducted by Mozart himself was not a great success. The brilliant melodies and fairy tale imagery, however, were as memorable then as they are today. Like the artworks and poems in this book, fairy tales are marked by stylistic integrity and poetic effect. Time and again, “The Magic Flute” has inspired visual artists like Oskar Kokoschka or Karl Friedrich Schinkel with his 12 orientally inspired stage sets.

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