Was WA Mozart an idiot savant

Dr. Herbert Lachmayer (ed.) On the book presentation of "Mozart - a completely normal child prodigy"

Vienna, August 17, 2007

Playing and playful not only had a common root for the Mozarts, but were also an expression of a social way of life for the time of the “inspiring decadence” at the end of the 18th century - this was much more comprehensive than the lifestyle of today. Play was an expression of the sense for the experimental of this time, after all, modern individuality was, so to speak, “invented” at that time - especially in the operas of Lorenzo Da Ponte and Mozart. Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva, Donna Anna, Octavio and Despina never left the stages of the operas, nor the stages of our own psychic productions. Modern also because the female characters in these operas are basically the players and not the men. So in “Le nozze di Figaro”: Susanna and Contessa Alamaviva, not the Count and Figaro - in “Cosi fan tutte” it is probably Despina too, and not just Don Alfonso, a “dirty old man”, who voyeuristically engages in arguments of the young couples, which he staged himself, also a game.

It was playfulness that made people what was the basic assumption at the time that the various forces of human nature stimulated each other in the play instinct. Schiller emphasized: “Man is only completely human where he plays”, based on this Huizinga defined man as Homo Ludens, who only this quality enables him to create objects, to become Homo Faber. And in this sense Mozart was undoubtedly a Homo semper ludens. He was a passionate card player, billiard player and bolt shooter, mastered the board games and word games that were important at the time - in total he played around one hundred games. It has not been established whether he was lucky or a good player. Big sister Nannerl's repertoire also consisted of at least 69 different games, including two dozen children's games, a dozen card games (Brandeln, Schmieren, Tresette, Tarock, Piquet, Quadrille, Quindici), a dozen parlor and pawns games, a number of board games. and dice games, bowling, lottery and lotteries, and last but not least, she was an excellent Bölzelschützin in her father's "company". Leopold Mozart was the children's teacher in playing, as well as in writing, arithmetic and reading, in foreign languages, playing the piano, violin and composing. He himself particularly loved the game of chess, the card games tarot, brandeln, smear, piquet and tresette, the Sunday shooter and the summer skittles. After a successful performance with princely and noble hosts, there were the so-called assemblées, these are noble societies and exquisite guests, where they dined, chatted and then almost always played. A gracious and honorable invitation to a card game or a game of billiards could not be refused. Of course, a lot of money was played where you had to keep up - an often costly affair. Even with the relatively harmless Salzburger Bölzelschießen followed by card games, Mozart was able to gamble away almost a third of his annual income in the course of a year - if one was unlucky. Playing was proof of favor to a noble admirer, balance and relaxation after strenuous artistic work, as well as consolation and distraction in the troubled years of illness and in the struggle for financial survival and, last but not least, a pastime in the many lonely weeks and months in carriages, while traveling in a foreign country and in the cold, dark season. In the bumpy carriage, the children developed inventive word and rhyme games. Later, the multilingual Mozart children developed their own familiar secret language in order to be able to exchange their opinions in open correspondence with Count Colloredo. Wolfgang wrote some cheeky, obscene letters in general.

At the age of four, the parents recognized the genius in their son: Wolferl was "playing composing". He wrote a concerto for piano, at first his father didn't recognize anything under the ink blots, because the little one made a mess. Nevertheless, he continued to write what the father was finally able to decipher. Tears of admiration and emotion ran down his cheeks when he realized that everything was set correctly and regularly, only too difficult to play. The little one countered: It's just a concert, you just have to practice for a long time. And he played.
The parents were aware of the genius of their child, they were standing in front of a crocodile, in front of a child prodigy.

In addition to his extremely concentrated music and teaching lessons, the six-year-old needed sufficient physical and mental balance, age-appropriate interaction: They competed with the neighbors' children, played hide-and-seek, blind cows, catching, do somersaults, leapfrog, the heavy bag goes around, cats and Mouse, skittles and balls, on rainy days role-playing games for school and merchant, building towers with wooden blocks and castles, rider and soldier, cook or merchant, buffoon or some other strange guy. There were swings, climbing trees and playgrounds, Nannerl had the doll Salome Musch and Wolfgang the dog Pimperl. There were also simple toys brought home from walks and trips: cones, chestnuts, mussels, snail shells, bird nests, horseshoes, colored stones, hazel sticks. You could easily make hobby horses out of it. Small children were given discarded tarot cards to play, paint and cut out.
In the castle park with the princely children, badminton was played and tire slingshots, in the magnificent rooms they played games of catch and hide-and-seek.

Games of chance like the Pharaoh were also part of everyday life. Of course you almost always gambled for money, otherwise the risk would not have been noticeable. The boldness of taking risks stimulated the attitude to life and accelerated it enormously. That was how you were present. This kept the presence of mind awake, came in an elegant pirouette of the course of the game "to the point" and thus "arrived at the present". After all, diplomats and the military, especially in the short peacetime, played the most extensive games of chance and the officially forbidden Hazard in order to keep themselves “fit” by reacting at lightning speed - the ladies too. The game was serious, life not necessarily. Games were part of the constant challenge of probation, when playing in the broadest sense one could experience total loss of face as well as “social death”, which was basically more threatening than physical. You died quickly anyway - red today, dead tomorrow. So the gallantry was not only an expression of the decorative playfulness of an aristocratic society, but a tough survival strategy at court.

Especially for non-aristocrats like father Leopold and son Mozart, but also for Giacomo Casanova and Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was important for these artistic and intellectual "symbol producers" and spiritually creative entertainers of the courtly aristocratic society to master many roles and identities at the same time, otherwise their appearance would have been boring and dreary - an unbearable notion for the enlightened Rococo society at the time of a début de siècle even before the French Revolution. You always had to be playful if you were to be able to expect as an artist of European and thus world renown to attract the attention of a court like the prince. The later ego identity of the bourgeois “guilty and super-ego society” of the already progress-oriented 19th century was not in demand - the promise that one would only ever be one and the same character, on which one could probably build, would be in Mozart's time met with incomprehension and rejection - after all, the dynastic aristocratic society before the French Revolution was a structurally amoral, if not necessarily immoral, overall strategic Machiavellian society. Against this background, the play of the characters in the opera, which by no means had anything museum-like about it (after all, no piece was older than 3 to 5 years), was of sensual stimulation, acumen, wit and irony - and gave the opportunity to always again and again to "invent" new concepts of individualism.

In the realms of eroticism and sexuality, games (including children's games adapted for adults) were a popular matrix of the most diverse forms of staging and seduction. The notorious calf measurement made it possible to get closer physically, to look under the skirt. Of course, the women did not wear panties, although they had several petticoats, but forbidden views and particularly intimate smells were noticed by the men.
Sexuality was basically an expanded form of communication and was easy to implement as an accompanying sensual form of happiness in everyday life. Not only because of this, the resources of sensuality as a libidinal lining for conversations in everyday life were diversified and excitingly omnipresent - actively kept in balance by both sexes. After all, a passionate mind, which had its origin in a "picture-thinking-capable" consciousness, had to be playful as well as combinatorial experimental, otherwise one would not have been successful in the festive society or in everyday social life or even be taken seriously. Sensitization for the feeling of symmetries in the creation and development of erotic desires could take its detour via many philosophical, scientific, medical, artistic topics and educational content - after all, one lived in a still pre-disciplinary knowledge society: before the overpowering specialization of knowledge in the 19th century. Century, in which there was a separation between art, as the domain of the irrational, and a "efficiency-fevered" rationality. The conversation, which always glided into the erotic, was playful because the pleasure perspective that was usually desired together was able to make the expected moment of later lust more intense and refined through dance-like arousal strategies. Seduction strategies, which may have encompassed many areas of life and knowledge practice beyond the ostensibly sexual, were commonplace - after all, one seduced oneself to new theories, for example physics and mining, as well as social utopias or a fascination for unusual electrical ones Experiments. These in particular were not only rated in terms of their scientific and technical efficiency, but above all as entertainment value for a playful course of an evening party.
Casanova and Da Ponte were virtuosos of seduction strategy in a very tangible sense - they mastered the game of staging expectations on the part of the ladies with artistry, as the Marquise de Merteuile and Valmot did for us in the "Liaison dangereuse" so impressively as a championship one demonstrate a psychotechnical manipulation strategy, so to speak, a pornosophical mastery of the game. Compared to the two of them, Mozart was a seducer of a special kind - he succeeded then, as his music still manages today, to seduce people into their own feelings of freedom, basically always to themselves, as authentic and confidently experiencing. Maybe that's why we hardly hate the seducer Mozart. Mozart's strategies of seduction through the medium of music create a pull that is still able to pull us into the interrelationships of Da Ponte's characters in the plot of various affairs of love and power. The librettist and the composer are the playmakers. At least they had to be, because opera, as the “highest art form” at court, was the creation of a cosmos in which the omnipotent figure of the ruler and his court had to be completely rediscovered - a game format set according to a variety of rules. In order to be able to fulfill the commission of an opera, the librettist and composer had to partake of the ruler's fantasies of omnipotence, otherwise they would not have been able to write an opera. But because the opera was needed in order to be able to marry appropriately, the artists at court were something like “aesthetic symbol producers” - indispensable, as were, on the other hand, the butcher or baker, the architect and painter. The staging of court society was basically a configuration for permanent game occasions, which could be updated as a specification of “imaginary game situations”.

Father Leopold wrote back to Salzburg from Rome with great satisfaction that Wolfgang, then seven years old, had gone through the portals of the Vatican without showing any letters of recommendation, because he would have been taken for a prince - he, Leopold, was after all considered “his Steward ". Father Mozart must have been similarly proud when his genius boy kissed Marie-Antoinette with the expression of the utmost naturalness and convincing spontaneity - after all, this “playful appearance” of the child prodigy had to be carefully rehearsed to the level of perfection that was last always looks more than real. Social role mimicri was part of the boy's upbringing and training right from the start and contributed to the fact that he was able to think up the most diverse personality variants in order to allow them to relate to one another through his imagination. This brings us back to the opera and to the unimaginable ability of Mozart to imagine all the role-bearers, in the play of the course of the plot, obviously in their interrelationships as acting as well as in their mutual emotional correspondences. The child prodigy might have been able to do this very early on.

This must have left Mozart's parents with the impression of monstrosity on their son - the conductor Nicolaus Harnoncuort sums it up perfectly in one sentence: "Then they sat in front of a crocodile". What was meant by this was the indelible perception of the little “prodigy automaton” Wolferl, who was apparently able to grasp the structure of the music analytically just by listening to symphonic music and two composition lessons by his father and, from this insight, enabled himself to do a similar thing create structured composition yourself. This enormous combinatorial achievement was owed to an ingenius who was able to develop a skill of combinatorics even with children's games, which soon helped him to compose. Even as a child, in the shadow of his child prodigy, Mozart was already filled with an obsessive interest in playing. For example, it was still about the Hölzelspiel and about twenty other games that children of his age were used to playing - the "calf measuring" was probably particularly exciting for the adolescents, after all, it was about handling the bare legs of young women. Adults, too, found lasting interest in such children's games, if one thinks of a performatively extended blind man's cow game, which offered an inviting opportunity for group petting for a long time.

It was only from the modulations of affect at the time that individual feelings and their staging in grasping spicy situations emerged. The learning and refinement of this libidinal emotional finesse was owed to an intelligence of taste, which knew how to deal with the differentiation of sensuality just as precisely as when using the mind with brilliant reflection figures. Mozart was well versed in all of these nuanced playing forms, as he was himself an excellent dancer who knew how to master the gestural rhetoric of gallantry as well as his virtuoso playing on the instrument. His unbelievable memory performance, comparable to that of an idiot savant, came to his aid: however, Mozart's memory was artistically productive "controllable" if he may have already pre-composed optional music while playing a concert so that he could listen to it late at night to bring the greatest agility to the music paper - mostly without having to correct. Mozart had this kind of artistic omnipresence of ingenuity and composing technique throughout his life: for example, he had the peculiar talent to create a cosmos of parallel worlds and to be able to relate them to each other at the same time - under the conditions of enormously accelerated production conditions: Composition time for “Figaro's Wedding” 12 weeks . To develop creatively in these parallel worlds, he apparently succeeded, due to his unimaginable memory, in creating what he had already experienced in a musical new creation of the highest complexity in such a way that it was exemplary for his world and those thereafter. And this as a “constructor of the moment”, as it were, in that he was able to convey the irretrievable moment “extremely suddenness” to the audience “in real time”.Mozart was able to accompany an unknown melody, which a Comtesse performed on a festive occasion, on the fortepiano ad hoc in such a way that the audience must have had the impression in unison that he had been the composer of the song - it was perfect improvisation. In order to be able to correctly assess the collective energy of attention that flowed to the child prodigy for about 3 hours at such a concert, one should bear in mind that the princely glance at non-aristocrats for a second results in the sustainability of a two-year feeling of happiness could. Filled with narcissistic “omnipotent cocaine”, so to speak, and accelerated, said new musical options formed in this child prodigy already during the virtuoso performance: also a kind of games.

Mozart must also have been omnipresent in terms of a broader educational horizon, which he mastered as well as several European languages ​​as well as games and games of chance, which must also have enabled him to make contacts while traveling. Without being able to master the approximately 40 relevant game types ... it was probably not possible to go on a journey in a supranational Europe - one had to master the games that preceded the respective cities with good or bad reputation - according to Lottery in Rome. Otherwise one could hardly move elegantly in company. Apart from that, these entertaining and challengingly daring games literally served to pass the time on the day-long carriage journeys. Through playing, Mozart sharpened his intelligence and, indirectly through his passion for gaming, also unfolded a stupendous talent to exist in many parallel worlds at the same time.

Obviously, Mozart was able to exist in many roles simultaneously in order to really savor the creative charm of the greatest complexity at the moment of the greatest intensity. His genuine cosmos was measured against being able to create many “worlds” in him musically, in which he knew how to live out facets of his personality in parallel - ultimately to the delight of all listeners to his music. On the other hand, he was marked by a total obsession with freedom, which led to immediate rebellion when an authority arrogantly built up in front of him or wanted to seize him: for example, the Catholic-enlightened Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, who wanted to break Mozart's striving for freedom by giving him that Sought to ban travel. “He doesn't have to travel” was enough for Mozart to quit immediately. This consistent love of freedom is also conveyed in his music - after all, it has been “seducing” us for more than 200 years into our own feelings of freedom. Mozart owes his spontaneous self-confidence to his presence of mind, which he knew how to sharpen himself while playing.

Even as a child he amazed those around him. Like a chameleon and mirror-like, he was able to adapt to social surroundings; To refine and perfect this was the goal of father Leopold's upbringing. This, too, is meant by his ability to generate parallel worlds: Mozart mastered a diverse repertoire of roles and identities, comparable to the proverbial necessity of the "abundance of his notes" - this may have helped him later when composing his operas, as he was aware of the ambiguous The ambiguity of the libretto texts inspires Lorenzo Da Pontes to constantly imagine all the characters involved as emotionally related to one another. Apparently he needed this constant movement and flexibility in order to be able to lead as many "lives" as possible next to each other and to be in top form creatively. The greatest noise was just good enough for him to do the best compositional work. His habit of composing or taking notes on his composition during breaks at the billiards he loved so much was also known. If a nine-part composition was left lying around, which he had forgotten to take with him, Mozart was able to continue composing two days later with an immediate sequence of measures without having seen the forgotten sheet in the meantime.

These impressions and observations were significantly inspiring in our work on the book and helped formulate the “logic behind it”. In the alternation of oil painting, graphics and the current comics by Budde, a diverse medium of its own virtuality was created, which through the texts by Laube enables children and their parents to continue playing with the elements of the book, to open up communication, and not to chase after any Mozart picture , but rather to discover your own Mozart “in yourself”. Colorful, rich in contrast, sensitive, the book challenged the taste intelligence of children and adults - and that was once again surprising for us as a functioning result. In the end, everything came together like a puzzle "as complete". Comparable to a very complex film, all elements have differentiated themselves in their simplicity in the end - so the self-awareness of one's own sensitization was sustainably generated. The virtuality we create in the book is more “real” than technological “virtual reality” in that simple, conventional communication formats create much more space for imagination and thinking than some electronically perfected children's games or videos are capable of.

The experimental character of Mozart's time before and shortly after the French Revolution is reflected in the structure of the book, as we have brought the most diverse media of imparting knowledge into a kind of simultaneity that supports the diversity of knowledge and, above all, the desired breadth of experience at this time of the late 18th century. Century corresponds: Back then, as now, it was about said virtuality - about the fact that the idea of ​​the unrealizable possibilities, in short the imagination of the impossible, leads to conditioning the awareness for shrill contrasts or for stimulating opposites in general. Only then is a sensual life practice of seduction experimentally possible. The book is highly informative because it shows the diversity of this pre-disciplinary knowledge society and makes it understandable that theory is not “gray and there” and life “green and there”, but that the mind can be passionate and always as part of the artistic Imagination stays alive. Today, taste intelligence is more necessary than ever - if you think you only have taste for 2 hours a day, then you don't have any. Understanding Mozart in the context of the knowledge culture of his time and the social setting of courtesy and gallantry gave us great pleasure in our work. For us, a model for “education new” emerged unexpectedly, a model of orientational knowledge that comes close to the concept of ingenuity. Ingenuity, as the common creative source of human imagination, unites artistic imagination as well as creativity and scientific and technical innovation. Art and everyday life are shown as cultural mediation in an intercultural and supranational Europe of the 18th century.