After an all-Mozart program I think most of us were gasping for breath, not least of all our extremely talented soloists of the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Before beginning our rehearsal of Mozart's first symphony, composed when he was only 8 years old, our conductor exclaimed, "As you will see, Mozart was already fully formed when he born! He was born perfect and was perfect his whole life!" I enjoyed the enthusiasm, but I was actually more impressed with the opposite: the incredible growth and variety that Mozart developed over the course of his life. Perhaps more what I came to appreciate this week, was a boy and a man who was given excellent training from an early age and pushed to develop it in such an extreme way. He seemed to have genius, to be more than human. But he was extremely human. To my taste, there is a breath and an excitement to his later works that wasn't yet born in his first symphony, as beautiful as it is.
It's interesting to think of what we are each capable. We are given a certain set of variables in life–genes, family, circumstances, the people we encounter. What becomes of this, where is our volition to do the things that we do? If Mozart had been born to anyone other than his parents, his father, what would he have become? If he had been given any opportunity to quit music, what would have happened?
What is the ultimate expression of an individual? Playing this concert, I wondered if Mozart was lucky to have been so strongly directed down this path. Surely we are lucky to have his music, or at least I feel this way. But was this his path? Was this his full expression? It's a funny thing, growing up. Becoming differentiated. But to have done so from such an early age is very unusual.
I wonder how we each find an optimal path of expression. Perhaps for some it is to achieve extreme mastery of one thing. Perhaps for others it is to be familiar with many different things. To be, to experience, to live. But lives become what they become. And Mozart has left us with such incredible music, something which keeps living. It is a gift from his life, a full expression in itself. How can it be measured?