Mozart and Haydn

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Mozart lived 35 years.  Haydn lived 77.

Mozart produced 600 pieces across all genres, in half the lifetime of others.  He came from a sort of musical royalty, his father being a well-respected musician who had inroads to the courts throughout Europe.  He started at age 3, started composing at 5, touring at 7, worked night and day and lived a lavish and undisciplined life. 

Haydn, is much less tragic of a figure and would unlikely be the subject of a movie (like Amadeus.)  His beginnings are humbler, with a mother and father who were laborers.  Compared to Mozart, he was a late bloomer, already being 6 when he was apprenticed to be a musician.  He had a steady job all his life and lived within his means.

If Mozart is Jimmy Swaggert, then Haydn is Joel Osteen.  Mozart's Dennis Rodman to Haydn's Michael Jordan; John McEnroe to Michael Chang.

van Gogh without his ear
I've used the two as symbols of the unwritten but understood imagery of the pathos and angst of the creative and artistic.  Why is it that we think of artists as tortured souls like Mozart, Beethovan, van Gogh?  What about the steady, hard-working, successful Haydn, Cezanne?

My limited knowledge of Mozart can't tell me whether his parents raised him well, or not, or if he had a spirit that led him down a slippery path.  I know he was lead around by his father performing for various nobility and royalty.  But then as an adult, he lived a miserable life and died young.  Haydn, not having the ticket to the courts, actually had to work hard to stay fed.  His cook mother nor his wheel maker father could get him the posh positions that Mozart got.  Is it that Haydn had to work for his art while Mozart was coddled?  Is this the classic saga of the silver-spoon vs the boot strap?  Maybe Wolfgang was just a finicky, high-strung baby while Franz Joseph sat docile with fewer fluctuations in pulse rate.

As I transfer my mind wanderings from the abstract to the reality of my little musician, I wonder how I will get him to be a Haydn, not a Mozart.  No worldly success, even for the sake of Art and Creativity, is worth the misery of a pathetic testimony of a life as Mozart.  Must Creativity be miserable? or as we are coming to understand through research, does Creativity come with plain ol' steady work?  "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration*," and all that.

The Genius of Greek Poetry
In the days of Greeks and Romans, Genius and Creativity were creatures that lived outside of ourselves and visited mere humans to inspire them to artistry.  It was something outside of the human experience.  Then the Renaissance came, and that gods, the sprites who lived in walls and tapped our shoulders with golden dust, were now inside of us.  Suddenly, we humans were Genius and Creativity.  We had made ourselves gods.

It seems to me, that we sunk ourselves by putting so much pressure on our frail, little human selves.  Might it be better to think of Creativity, well, maybe not as a god like the Greeks did, but from something, somewhere outside of ourselves that we get to express?  Can we separate ourselves from our creativity and see ourselves as valuable outside of our art?

Might I remember to praise my son for his hard work and long practice instead of just his talent?  Might I encourage him that he is more than his talent?  That it is a gift that can be used (or not) for the benefit of himself as well as others?  Then one day, if he breaks his hands or develops a disease, that he'd still be valuable? precious?  talented? hard-working?

Hence, I pray to the God of Creation.

* Thomas Edison