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Clio's Temple

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Mediocrities, I absolve you

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 3:28 PM
Perhaps you remember the ending to Amadeus: the dying Antonio Salieri is moved to another room in the asylum which has become his home. As he passes his fellow inmates, he gives them a beatific smile, saying, "Mediocrities, I absolve you." He died on this day in 1825. Perhaps it's worth remembering, when competitive pressures bear down on us, that we will most likely never have to compete with a person of Mozart's talents (in whatever field is our métier).

When he passed on, it was in the middle of a great transition. Most professional musicians would (I daresay) hold up Mozart, and perhaps Haydn, as the epitome of "Classicism" among composers.Today is also the anniversary of the premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. He, of course, broke out of the classical mold and was one of the founding fathers of Romanticism, but even at this hour of triumph, his time was running out. He had only two years left to live.

Today is also the birthday of Johannes Brahms (1833) and Peter Tchaikovsky (1840). On any list of great Romantic composers, those two would probably rank in the top five, certainly the top ten.The age of the Industrial Revolution, so grim in many manifestations, was also an age of renewal in the word of music. While we celebrate the greats, let us not forget the mediocrities. They also served.

Categories: Culture

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3 Comments

Reply Patsy Aukema Dickson
1:18 PM on May 16, 2013 
Well said. In our economically driven culture that seems to celebrate only the exceedingly outstanding achievements, we often overlook the mundane, ordinary, trivial accomplishments of ordinary, everyday people. However, the ordinary is what makes the world function in a smooth, predictable fashion that enables the extraordinary to flourish. By the way, Amadeus is one of my all time favorite movies? Rock me Amadeus!
Reply Steve Gordy
7:49 PM on May 16, 2013 
One of the things I most enjoy about reading your posts on Facebook is your celebration of farm life (duh!). It doesn't get much more mundane than that, yet an amazing number of folks have never had the firsthand experience of doing farm work. As one who "broke the mold," Mozart must have envied Salieri his cachet as a court composer, all the while knowing how confining it could be. We all need to appreciate those who make our lifestyles possible.
Reply Minhaz
6:13 PM on March 29, 2017 
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