April 23, 2017

The Magic of Mozart

When people are asked who are the most important composers over time, Mozart is usually mentioned. Both Tomoko and her daughter found inspiration in Mozart. In fact, when asked who would she like to meet in heaven? Tomoko answers immediately: “Mozart!”

Tomoko studies composers as part of her preparation for performing. So it is no wonder that she knows a lot about Mozart. She says, “Mozart’s sounds was not of this world. His life was all dreams, and he was very holy. He had a real connection between this life and the next life, perhaps because his mother passed away while he was in Paris.” She also notes his analytical side. “Mozart was a super mathematician, and his composition papers sometimes had algebra notes on them.”  Mozart also used musical numerology, weaving masonic numerical symbols in his open The Magic Flute, such as the number three (such as three-part harmony, characters in sets of three, and  key E flat major, which has three flats.

Tomoko also considers the style of each composer when she chooses pieces for her students. She notes “Mozart was first a performer, so his works are more natural to play.” On the other hand, Tomoko asserts, “Mozart is the most difficult composer for piano but also the most enjoyable because of his use of both hands. Balance is hard, and Mozart succeeds in optimizing even-handed performance.” She continues, “Mozart is easy for children but hard for adults; just try his variations.” Tomoko says that many of her students want to play Mozart. She responds to them, “If you want to play him, you have to go through Stravinsky, Alban Berg, and other contemporary composers. Mozart is complicated to learn.” 

As for Tomoko herself? “I have a natural feeling about Mozart.” She says, “I could play a piece of his twenty  times, and not tire of it.” And Mozart has helped Tomoko’s career. For instance, while at the conservatory student on a US visa, Tomoko had to audition to prove that she was a serious music student. She played a Mozart concerto as her audition piece, which showcased her expertise and self-confidence; her performance enabled her to stay in the conservatory’s program.

Mozart holds a special place for Tomoko’s daughter Beata too. Considering the household she grew up in, it’s no surprise that Beata knew classical music. On the other hand, “I didn’t know about pop music,” Beata remembers. “And I didn’t want people to know that I liked classical music.” Mozart was part of the life. Beata recalls, “I obsessed about the movie ‘Amadeus.’ It was my secret life.  I listened to Mozart every night under cover.” 

In the end, Tomoko says that, after playing different composers, Tomoko likes to go back to Mozart: “The experience is pure music.”

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