[Marxism] In Search of Beethoven

Thomas Bias biastg at embarqmail.com
Wed Sep 23 18:52:26 MDT 2009

Mozart, the son of a composer and a world-traveled musician by the time he
was 10 years old, probably understood Italian as well as he understood
German. Italian is common the language of music; that was more true in
Mozart's time than our own. However, he wrote the MUSIC. Lorenzo da Ponte
was responsible for the lyrics and the play itself. I'm sure he never gave
two thoughts to the issue of whether the Commendatore was a "deus ex
machina." However, I'm intrigued by the notion expressed by the character
Salieri in "Amadeus" that with the music Mozart gave him to sing the
Commendatore had become his father Leopold Mozart.

In terms of the "politics" of these classical works: it is less important
what the composer intended than what their audiences perceived. Whether
aristocratic patrons or impresari concerned about ticket sales, there had to
be a connection to the audience or the expectation of one for the work to be
performed. All too often in Mozart's case, that was a difficult proposition,
and he died penniless and in debt at the age of 35, and was buried in an
unmarked grave.


-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf
Of Colin West
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 7:30 PM
To: Thomas Bias
Subject: Re: [Marxism] In Search of Beethoven

>  As to the "deus ex machina,"  presumably the statue, you
> simply fail to grasp the point that the statue cannot possibly exist--
> it is the Commendatore in flesh and blood. If you're talking about the
> flames under the trapdoor, that's a clever stage effect but no sort of
> deus ex machina.
  No, the idea that the Commendatore returns from the dead is what I  
mean by deus ex machina.

>> and Giovanni himself, although reputedly something of a roué,
>> entirely fails to seduce anyone in the entire opera.
> He certainly succeeds with Zerlina and also with Elvira (at the start
> of Act II), though indeed neither of those ladies is reluctant in the
> slightest degree!

  Oh? Elvira is led away by Leperetto and then Giovanni tries to  
seduce Elvira's maid and is interrupted. And it's Elvira's arrival in  
Act I that thwarts Giovanni's seduction of Zerlina.
>> Further, 'liberty' and 'libertine' may be cognates but only in
>> English. In German it would have been 'Freiheit' and (I think)
>> 'Wüstling' ["Wüstling" is only one of the three possible
>> equivalents.  The other two, per Cassel, are "römische
>> Freigelassener" and "Freidenker"] so I don't see how that works.
> Have you only heard it in German translation?
> The language of Don Giovanni is Italian.
  I'm not convinced that Mozart really spoke or understood Italian.  
The libretto would have been handed to him translated. In the same way  
that Stravinsky's 'Oedipus Rex' is sung in Latin but Stravinsky didn't  
understand Latin (but neither did the librettist; it was translated by  
a Jesuit priest who was friendly with Cocteau).


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