Mozart and the Keyboard Culture of His Time

The Cult of Mozart
horizontal rule
The Cult of Mozart veneration started during the composer’s own lifetime. Ferrying "Wolferl" around Europe as a child prodigy, Leopold Mozart took advantage of the incessant fascination with the extraordinary, the genius, both in scientific circles and in travelling theatrical shows. Serious studies as well as anecdotes testify not only to a public appreciation of Mozart’s incredible skill at an early age, but also to the outright veneration of the boy.

While Leopold exploited the market value of the Wunderkind, the twentieth-century veneration of Mozart has strangely returned to exactly this childhood image. In the guise of a non-descript face, a tabula rasa of innocence, the otherworldly quality of the childhood genius finds its visual representation. Personality and character as yet unformed, Mozart the child is commodified as Mozart the icon of natural and unquestioned excellence. Ever since Constanze began to transfigure the image of her husband by wiping the worldly dust off his face, Mozart’s name and image have become markers of quality.

The Image transcends Mozart’s music as well as his person. It is the obverse of the musicological coin, the by-product of fascination with a cultural hero created by a posterity as much in need of hermeneutic tools as of idols. Glorification and interpretation coincide in a concept of Bildung that hovers between critique and veneration. It is no coincidence that the "Mozart-Haus Handels- und Versandgesellschaft," producer and distributor of the Mozart-Kugel is but another vessel in the home port of Mozart research, cultivation and veneration: the "Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum".

continue to Comodification and Kitsch

Introduction
From Sketch to Completed Work
From Print to CD
How did Mozart Compose?
The Mozart Myth: Tales of a Forgery
Mozart's Images
Mozart's Images Imagined
What the Score Doesn't Tell Us
The Piano Lesson
The Cult of Mozart
Commodification & Kitsch
Credits
Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library

Copyright 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524

For reference questions, send mail to: rareref@cornell.edu
If you have questions or comments about the site, send mail to: webmaster.