Mozart's 250th Birthday

January 27, 2006 is the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As a result, many people will hear of him and his music for the first time. No doubt, the so-called "Mozart Effect" will also be indicated in different places and publications around the world.

Just in case people have not heard this, I want to make sure that you know before 2006 arrives, that listening to Mozart does NOT, repeat NOT raise your IQ. Not only that, but the people who did the original research and wrote the book "The Mozart Effect" never said that it did! It is frightening to me to think that well-intented people could do such good work, publish this work in the spirit of helping others, and then have their words twisted by marketers wanting to make a quick buck.

In my own discipline of musicology, academic rigor is highly prized. As one who came late to musicology (I was a performance major at the Bachelor's and Master's levels) this academic rigor was not always easy for me. Therefore, I am very sympathetic to musicians who are trying to make the world a better place, through music, but do not realize how critical (and yes, jealous) others can be. Perhaps because Don Campbell was a mentor of mine, I felt the need to defend his book "The Mozart Effect" and put these facts out before the naysayers emerge for the 250th birthday celebration.

The original research was done in the early 90's at the University of California, Irvine by a team of researchers working with pre-schoolers and another group working with high school students who were about to take their SAT exams. You can read all about it at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4918

Anyways, I hope you'll all take this opportunity to listen to something by Mozart during January. I'd recommend the "Overture to the Marriage of Figaro" or the "Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 467." Mozart was an unbelievably prolific composer, who was a genius in every genre he attempted. Mozart died at age 35, a pauper. If you have not seen the movie "Amadeus" you might want to check it out. It's amazingly accurate and very entertaining.

Do not miss an opportunity this year to hear a live performance of one of Mozart's 620 compositions. Many musicians believe that he is the only composer in history to have mastered every genre he attempted, including opera, symphonies, concertos, sonatas and chamber music. You can also get videos and DVDs of many of his operas and well as orchestral performances from musical festivals around the world.

Enjoy some Mozart this year and every year!

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