The Mozart CD was picked up in a check-out line at Safeway earlier that day. My mother later said that she just had a sudden impulse about it, thinking that because I liked the music in "Fantasia", I might appreciate some classical. The lady was so right. It should be noted, my mother is very hit or miss when it comes to taste assumptions where I am concerned. Case in point...
Norma Kamali bathing suit, in style of 1940's siren... HIT!
6th and 8th grade graduation dresses with huge white-laced collars, in style of Sandra Day O'Connor... MISS!
Alarm clock set to play Billie Holiday every morning... HIT!
Bamboo backpack... Ummm... Shall we take a wild guess or a flying leap on this one?
Mozart was an obsession for me, and by that I mean a full-fledged love and insatiable appetite for all things related to. Further, it was my first free-forming obsession. It needed no guidance, no prompting, and no encouragement; but mama certainly enjoyed the novelty of a 5th grader capable of recognizing the odd concerto, aria, or overture where and whenever they appeared. Incidentally, Mozart's music is used far more often in popular culture than most realize or acknowledge. I became a party-trick and playing the first opening notes of various tracks on the CD's and guessing how long it would take me to "NAME THAT COMPOSITION" was an endless source of entertainment for mother and her dinner guests. In a matter of months, one CD had grown to four and the giant map covering a wall in my room was full of colored-coded pins indicating his birthplace, working locations, and place of burial. I fantasized about Vienna constantly, his beloved "City of Music". I practiced German out of a library book in preparation for the journey- which by my calculations would be in ohhhh... 2 or 3 years, as I was fairly sure I could convince my mother to let me travel there on my own at the ripe old age of 12; 13 at the very latest! PHEW, that would be old.
Needless to say, I was a little off in this estimation. At 29 I've yet to visit Vienna. Invariably, the obsession waned and the interest gave way to subsequent musical preoccupations. But Mozart was my first and he set the bar sky high. He taught me what it was to hear music in movements and few artists have come close to the hair-raising, goose bump-inducing, passionate perfection of Amadeus. Maria Callas at her peak comes to mind... Edith Piaf... And in a similar way- Nirvana, The Clash, and Arcade Fire. Albeit there was the occasional embarrassment along the way. For example, no matter how I attempt to justify the choice, there were just no excuses for the purchase of "The Bodyguard" soundtrack in 8th grade. *cringe* Or that time I bought Paula Abdul's "Spellbound" and Joy Division's "Closer" in the same transaction. *sacreligious cringe* Of course, I'm still making embarrassing music choices today, but I learn from my mistakes and love the good ones with a burning fervor more often reserved for soul mates than CD's. I can't be bothered to question the evolution from Bob Marley to Motown to "The Mickey Mouse Club" to Mozart to The Melvins to NOFX to Bikini Kill to Blondie and countless others in between... But it was my musical education and it was vast and grand and it continues every single day. And in my estimation, Mozart- the man who wrote such treasured beauties as "The Marriage of Figaro", "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and "Don Giovanni", but also had the sick and darling sense of humor to write the canon "Leck mich im Arsch" (literally, "Lick My Ass") would be terribly proud.