Commodification & Kitsch
In the “emotional playspace” that kitsch represents, we can experience heightened emotions without fear of the consequences. Within kitsch, emotions can be safely indulged—circumscribed and prescribed. Represented by classics in art, emotions become safe.
The kitsch industry was an outgrowth of the Kenner und Liebhaber (dilettante and amateur) market, intimately tied to the drawing room. Bildung (education) became the main indicator of class. Music making, commonly centered around the piano, was the safe and appropriate pastime of ladies in the drawing rooms. It was the forum for the exploration of emotions as well as the display of one’s own appropriate sensitivity.
Mozart spoke to this domestic setting not only through his music, but also through his image. The Mozartian image as a representation has gathered connotations intimately tied to the self-understanding of the bourgeoisie. Bildung and Bürgertum (bourgeoisie), emotion and composure, come together in the image of Mozart. His music is accessible and clear, it is popular, yet its high standard is impossible to deny.
Mozart’s image is manifold. It ranges from the dark, sinister and unconventional connotations of Don Giovanni to hints of seriousness and exclusivity, from an air of indulgence to an awareness of tradition and perfection—the image of the classic. The darkness of the Requiem, the melancholy of the G minor symphony, and the delightful tinkling of Papageno’s music-box arias, as well as the sparkle of the ubiquitous "Kleine Nachtmusik," not to forget the romanticism of his Piano Concerto K. 467: Mozart encompasses all emotions.
© 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript