Published in a most unlikely journal, here's a neat if fairly conventional summing up at the close of this Mozart Year of Mozart as man and composer by Jon Pott for the Christian review, Books & Culture. I especially liked this quote from Catholic theologian, Hans Küng:
I think that music which speaks the truth is not just limited, say, to vocal music or explicitly religious music; it also includes purely instrumental music—and especially the intimacy of many second movements. An abstract masterpiece can speak the truth in the pure language of sound… . And though music cannot become a religion of art, the art of music is the most spiritual of all symbols for that "mystical sanctuary of our religion," the divine itself. In other words, for me Mozart's music has relevance for religion not only where religious and church themes or forms emerge, but precisely through the compositional technique of the non-vocal, purely instrumental music, through the way in which this music interprets the world, a way which transcends extra-musical conceptuality… . With keen ears [one] may perceive in the pure, utterly internalized sound, for example, of the adagio of the Clarinet Concerto, which embraces us without using any words, something wholly other… . So here are ciphers, traces of transcendence.
And this, from the inimitable George Bernard Shaw:
In the ardent regions where all the rest are excited and vehement, Mozart alone is completely self-possessed: where they are clutching their bars with a grip of iron and forging them with Cyclopean blows, his gentleness of touch never deserts him: he is considerate, economical, practical under the same pressure of inspiration that throws your Titan into convulsions. This is the secret of his unpopularity with Titan fanciers. We all in our native barbarism have a relish for the strenuous: your tenor whose B flat is like the bursting of a boiler always brings down the house, even when the note brutally effaces the song: and the composer who can artistically express in music a transport of vigor and passion of a more muscular kind … is always a hero with the intemperate in music. [...] Give me the artist who breathes it like a native, and goes about his work in it as quietly as a common man goes about his ordinary business. Mozart did so; and that is why I like him.
A worthwhile read.
(Our thanks to the always indispensable Arts & Letters Daily for the link.)