Music as defined by its legal definition in the dictionary is the art of arranging sounds in time as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, however, music is much more than this. Music is the aforementioned as well as the universal language that is understood by all persons no matter their race, color, creed, or gender. Music is also a form of self-expression that has been used by all musicians known to mankind, past, present, and future.
Whether music is only a language or just a means of self-expression is let for one to decide for themselves, however, one thing is for sure, music is perhaps the only true way that a musician can express him or herself. Through their music, the musician also has a profound and often revolutionary affect on society that may at first seem outrages but in the end, will be highly accepted. Mozart and Madonna are primary examples of such musicians that have lived in our society and revolutionized it.
From giving a whole new meaning to the word opera’ to redefining what a woman’s role in society is are all examples of such great endeavors that have been accomplished by these revolutionizing artists. In “A Wagner Matinee,” written by Willa Cather, an elderly woman reminisces about her past as a great musician in her town. Although not reaching the heights of fame, she (Georgiana) recalls the times when she would cheerfully play her piano during her younger days when she was taken to a symphony by her nephew whom she served as a role model for. Mr.
Holland’s Opus directed by Stephen Herek portrays a man’s passion for music. Mr. Holland originally wants to become a famous composer but has a change of mind when he finds his new hidden passion that even he wasn’t aware of. Whether fictional or not, all these persons share one thing in common, the bond that that they have established between themselves and their music is like no other, and is a bond that could never be broken. On the evening of January 27, 1756 arrived what many musicians regard as “the greatest human gift” (Keys 13), Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb, better known as Mozart.
Mozart was a true icon of his time as well as the present time. Starting at a young age Mozart began composing music; Mozart made over forty written compositions throughout his lifetime. He revolutionized classical music, opera, and everything else that fell in between the two, singing, stage directions, composing, etc. His first appearance was at the age of nine where he and his sister held a concert that was composed by the two. The two were celebrated but Mozart more than his sister because most of the work he composed himself.
As a young boy, Mozart was celebrated and admired by both his peers and elders, they thought of him as a prodigy, miracle, and even a gift. Mozart’s talent was like that of no other’s at the time. His many compositions expressed many different aspects about him and his life. One generalization that could be made of Mozart’s work is that he was willing to break the rules and try something new each and every time. There was no format to any of his works, each was original, unique and like no other.
In Amadeus a film about Mozart’s life told by music composer Antonio Salieri, Salieri speaks of Mozart from a distance. Salieri didn’t like Mozart because Mozart played a tune for the Emperor one day and Salieri was offended because the Emperor was truly pleased by Mozart’s natural talent. At that time, Salieri was head composer for the Emperor. During “Cosi fan Tutte” one of Mozart’s operas in Italian, there is a dancing scene in Act III that had to be taken off because dancing, such as ballet, was forbidden in operas.
Salieri tried everything possible to have that part taken out of the opera, but was unsuccessful as the Emperor allowed Mozart to get away with placing the dance in the opera without facing any penalties. In Mozart’s operas, one could often see a similarity between them and his life. In “Figaro” another one of his operas, a young man of high class is sentenced to marry a housekeeper because he cannot pay off the many debts he has. Like the young man in “Figaro,” Mozart faced times where he was in need of money because he had to many debts to pay.
Mozart was sending out the message that those men, who owed money should be punished, no matter their nobility. Mozart also sends out a message about himself in the opera “Don Giovanni,” where the main character is a man who cannot remember the number of women he has slept with and is full of greed and selfishness. Those were two characteristics were also present in Mozart character; he was extremely greedy and selfish at times and slept with many different women. He didn’t live the educated life one would expect of such a man. A different kind of musician can be seen in “A Wagner Matinee” a short story written by Willa Cather.
Georgiana, an elderly woman, needs to claim the estate of one of her bachelor relatives that passed away and left it for her. Her nephew, Clark, lives in the same town as her deceased relative and receives his elderly aunt with open arms. He hasn’t seen her in a long time and feels that he owes a lot to her; she was the one responsible for his upbringing and caring.
One day, Clark decides to take aunt Georgiana to a symphony where Georgiana has a flash back of her younger days as she recalls some of the keys being played in the symphony. er fingers worked mechanically upon her black dress, as if, of themselves, they were recalling the piano score they had once played. ” (Cather 34) She pressed firmly against her dress as if she was really playing and went into deep moments of concentration. All that Clark could do was watch his aunt’s passion for music shine brightly about her face. When the symphony ended, she exclaimed to him, “I don’t want to go, Clark, I don’t want to go! ” (Cather 35) Georgiana had been hurt that she had to leave so soon, she was recalling the days when she was able to get away from it all and play her piano to clear her mind and her thoughts.
Music was her escape form reality; she was able to go off into places that she never could actually go to. “I understood. For her, just outside the concert hall, lay the black pond with the cattle tracked bluffs; the tall, unpainted house, with weather-curled boards, naked as a tower; the crook-backed ash seedlings where the turkeys picking up refuse about the kitchen door. ” (Cather 35) Clark understood the importance of music in his aunts like no one else could, he saw the connection between her and the music she played, whether hers or not.
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, also known as Madonna, has been one of the most aspiring female artists of the twentieth century. Often criticized for her extreme sexual behavior and arrogance, Madonna has been able to revolutionize the way women are viewed in our society. Before Madonna, women were quiet and not sexual at all, at least not in public. After Madonna, women have been able to do all the things men have. One of her earlier hits during her career, “Express Yourself,” Madonna sends out a message to all women, to simply express themselves and to make sure that their man does too.
She advises women: “Don’t go for second best baby/ Put your love to the test you know you know you’ve got to/ Make him express how he feels and maybe then you’ll know your love is real. ” (Express Yourself) Madonna wanted women to be in control and to stand up for what they believed in and not let anyone bring them down. Madonna also made women more sexual, she took her femininity to heights that no other female had ever done. Like Marilyn Monroe, Madonna had sex appeal, but unlike her, Madonna was always in complete control of herself and didn’t have a man to take orders from.
She once married actor Sean Penn but their marriage didn’t last too long because of his aggressive nature. “The bruises they will fade away/ You hit so hard with the things you say/ I will not stay to watch your hate as it grows” (Till Death Do Us Apart) This song was written after she divorced Sean and she expressed herself of how she felt about him and his aggressive ways. As Madonna’s career has matured, so has she, she is no longer the arrogant blonde from the early nineties, Madonna has now become more aware of her wrong doings during her younger days and confesses them in her new music.
Nothing Really Matters” is a song that speaks of her past and present and how she has grown up and changed. “When I was very young/ Nothing really mattered to me/ But making my self happy/ I was the only one/ Now that I am grown. Everything’s changed/ I’ll never be the same/ Because of you. ” (Nothing Really Matters) Madonna truly has grown up and matured her conduct, she no longer does explicit things that may be offensive to people and respects others in the same form that she wishes to be respected. In Mr. Holland’s Opus, Mr. Holland dreams of becoming a famous composer and selling millions of dollars worth of music compositions.
Unfortunately he never has the luck to land such a role in society so he takes on the career of becoming a high school music teacher. As a teacher he is able to share his passion for music with his many students and enlighten them with the knowledge he has acquired with the years that he has been dealing with music. Mr. Holland’s new passion was to teach his students about the importance of music in ones life and in society. He made it his goal to reach out to as many students as possible and teach them as much as he could about music.
Mr. Holland had his students feel the same love for music because it was their way of expressing themselves and relieving themselves. Music was a scapegoat to paradise for Mr. Holland and many of his students as well. They turned to music for guidance, support, and a better overall understanding of themselves as well as others. Mr. Holland’s community was enriched by the music education that he provided for them. His teaching ranged from classical to rock to pop and to alternative. With out a doubt, Mr. Holland’s music appreciation class was one that benefited the whole school as well as the community and himself.
In conclusion, musicians use music as a means of communication between them and the rest of the world. Their music may sometimes be misinterpreted, and that is because one does not have the proper knowledge of knowing what it is that inspires musicians to do what they do. Musicians have come and gone and will continue to serve one very important purpose for all of society, and that is to help society understand one another better and get along better through this universal language that we are too blind to realize that it is the acclaimed missing link that we never see when it has always been there. “Music makes the people come together. “