Schlock Me, Amadeus

Amadeus

Norman Lebrecht has made his by now considerable reputation as a gadfly, a deflater of pomposity and a debunker of humbug. Having chosen classical music as his journalistic beat, he is never short of material. But this time, he’s gone too far. In his La Scena Musicale column this week, Lebrecht takes on another of concert music’s sacred cows: Mozart. Now, I’m no Amadeus idolator (I’m a Haydn kind of guy myself), but when Lebrecht says things like “Mozart merely filled the space between staves with chords that he knew would gratify a pampered audience. He was a provider of easy listening, a progenitor of Muzak,” he makes you want to laugh out loud. His ostensible topic is the cynical exploitation of the Mozart anniversary year, which will soon befall us, and he’s right enough about that. But Mozart as a bewigged Andrew Lloyd Webber? As the tennis player John McEnroe liked to say, “You cannot be serious.”