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Thread: Probability of another Mozart?

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    Probability of another Mozart?

    I've always been puzzled by the fact that our population is larger than ever, the number of educated people is larger than ever, and knowledge is more widely available than ever, yet we don't seem to be producing a plethora of new Mozarts or Einsteins. If Mozart could emerge from a time when the pool of musically trained people was minuscule, why not now when the pool is millions strong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I've always been puzzled by the fact that our population is larger than ever, the number of educated people is larger than ever, and knowledge is more widely available than ever, yet we don't seem to be producing a plethora of new Mozarts or Einsteins. If Mozart could emerge from a time when the pool of musically trained people was minuscule, why not now when the pool is millions strong?
    Mozart is famous because he stood out in his time. It's harder to do that today with our much more noisy signal/noise ratio.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    There was an 11 year old girl on the radio the other day who was about to have her second opera performed in Austria. She wrote her first piano concerto at the age of 6.

    Maybe the reason we don't hear so much about people like that is that they are no longer remarkable!

    More likely, it is a matter of historical perspective. Mozart established a reputation and has been part of the culture for centuries. Some gifted people may become famous in future, some may just fade from view (for all sorts of reasons).

    There is also the spread of popular music and the mass media to support it which, perhaps, rather "drowns out" new Mozarts.
    (Edit: which is basically what Noclevername said...)

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    Might be that to reach results that trump past results you need even more intelligent / creative people than those that came before them. To 'beat' Einstein you don't need another Einstein so to say, you need even better. Probably some human limitations at some point?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFJ View Post
    Might be that to reach results that trump past results you need even more intelligent / creative people than those that came before them. To 'beat' Einstein you don't need another Einstein so to say, you need even better. Probably some human limitations at some point?
    Yes, maturing takes place in all fields. Gould used baseball as an analogy for even evolutionary changes. Look at the year for the best single-season batting average -- 1894 (Hugh Duffy; 0.4397). The rules have not changed that much for baseball so a maturing takes place. I would doubt he would get near that today. Even Ted Williams or Ty Cobb might not do as well as they did playing in today's game.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Mozart was subjected to an endless round of practice by an ambitious father, in a way that makes today's Tiger Parenting seem tame. The combination of aptitude and child abuse is potent, but it doesn't often produce well-rounded, happy members of society. Maybe we can do without any more Mozarts?
    (Actually, maybe we could stop pretending that high-achieving monomaniacs are good role models for our children, but that's a topic for another thread.)

    In contrast, I think we do have a lot of Einsteins - the breakthroughs are just harder.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Mozart was subjected to an endless round of practice by an ambitious father, in a way that makes today's Tiger Parenting seem tame. The combination of aptitude and child abuse is potent, but it doesn't often produce well-rounded, happy members of society. Maybe we can do without any more Mozarts?
    (Actually, maybe we could stop pretending that high-achieving monomaniacs are good role models for our children, but that's a topic for another thread.)

    In contrast, I think we do have a lot of Einsteins - the breakthroughs are just harder.

    Grant Hutchison
    How would one define the next Mozart? Remember, Mozart was writing music on the cutting edge of the day, but he was also very popular, in a way no longer seen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    How would one define the next Mozart? Remember, Mozart was writing music on the cutting edge of the day, but he was also very popular, in a way no longer seen.
    How about those lads from Liverpool?
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    How about those lads from Liverpool?
    That's the problem: the musical environment is so different than that during Mozart's lifetime, it may be impossible for there to a new Mozart.

    I tend to think she or he would come out of jazz, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    How about those lads from Liverpool?
    They were popular in a different way.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Today, it's difficult to " Rise above the noise ". Besides..... you need to look like Taylor Swift or George Clooney to get
    attention . I don't advise anyone to make a career out of music , beyond for their own personal joy.
    There's more money ....on average ... in teaching music than playing it . Pearls before swine .Sort of...

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    Maybe the problem is that once someone (say Mozart) has created a musical form, a subsequent "Mozart" cannot create it again without seeming plagiaristic. I once read a scifi story where so many songs had been copyrighted that it was impossible to write a euphonious melody which did not infringe on a copyright song.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Maybe the problem is that once someone (say Mozart) has created a musical form, a subsequent "Mozart" cannot create it again without seeming plagiaristic. I once read a scifi story where so many songs had been copyrighted that it was impossible to write a euphonious melody which did not infringe on a copyright song.
    "Melancholy Elephants" by Spider Robinson. Available online.

    Grant Hutchison

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    The 1750-1850 era that produced like confetti a Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Verdi, Mahler, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Wagner, Beethoven, Bach etc etc, today there is not a composer 1/100th, or even 1/1000th like them. Since Benjamin Britten, d.1976, who was maybe 1/20th of them, there has arisen no British composer of note.
    Last edited by wd40; 2016-Jul-13 at 10:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Today, it's difficult to " Rise above the noise ". Besides..... you need to look like Taylor Swift or George Clooney to get
    attention . I don't advise anyone to make a career out of music , beyond for their own personal joy.
    There's more money ....on average ... in teaching music than playing it . Pearls before swine .Sort of...
    Little known trivia, that Mozart was very successful financially. . .
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    They were popular in a different way.
    They were products of a very different world, technologically and socially, yes. They were products of the era of mass consumption. But still, they were innovative composers, doing innovative things with multitrack recording that Mozart of course had no access to. So I think it's natural that their popularity would be different, but musical genius is still musical genius.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    They were products of a very different world, technologically and socially, yes. ....
    Yes, and one cannot lift Mozart or Einstein out of their environments (to compare them to others in another time), because it is their environments that have defined them (atop their innate capabilities).
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
    Yes, and one cannot lift Mozart or Einstein out of their environments (to compare them to others in another time), because it is their environments that have defined them (atop their innate capabilities).
    Right, how many musical geniuses never get well known because they lack the opportunity?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Right, how many musical geniuses never get well known because they lack the opportunity?
    A lot fewer today than in Mozart's time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    A lot fewer today than in Mozart's time.
    ...Explain, please?
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    Today, musical education is fairly widespread, at least at its most basic; a genuine prodigy can be spotted in a classroom. In Mozart's time, musical education was the preserve of the aristocracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    ...Explain, please?
    If it means "relatively" I think it's definitely true because in Mozart's time a large percentage of the population were serfs who never had the chance to get around instruments. Nowadays many children are exposed to music in schools. Now, in absolute numbers I don't know because there are lots more people today.
    As above, so below

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    Mozart was a genius with a white-hot passion for composition, and he was in the right place at the right time culturally to create innovative music that nevertheless was pleasant listening for ordinary folks, while being of high quality that made it worthy of becoming enduring standard repertoire for serious musical institutions. My educated guess is that there are plenty of similarly gifted and talented musicians active today, but it is harder to create anything new and different that is also pleasant listening, at least in numbers anywhere near the several hundred masterpieces which Mozart wrote. I have heard newly commissioned works presented by today's orchestras about which the program notes writers sang high praises, but sounded like noise to me. I would rather listen to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, etc. than some of the "serious" pieces our major orchestras are creating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    My educated guess is that there are plenty of similarly gifted and talented musicians active today, but it is harder to create anything new and different that is also pleasant listening...
    Yes, "contemporary art" typically has this aspect of "breaking the rules," coming up with something new (Brubeck, Copland...). As you say, breaking the rules is one thing; having a "pleasing" result is quite another.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

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    Mozart also existed in an era when there was not the sort of sharp divide between serious music and popular music. Were Mozart alive today, he's no more likely to be tuning up in Avery Fisher Hall than in The Knitting Factory, or playing with Esperanza Spalding instead of Yo-Yo Ma.

    As an aside, it seems a couple of posters have poor opinions of 20th and 21st Century music. Milhaud, Messiaen, Ives, Berg, Stockhausen, Hindemith, .....

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Mozart also existed in an era when there was not the sort of sharp divide between serious music and popular music. Were Mozart alive today, he's no more likely to be tuning up in Avery Fisher Hall than in The Knitting Factory, or playing with Esperanza Spalding instead of Yo-Yo Ma.
    I think there was quite a divide, but there was no market for popular music so people sang songs in the fields or in front of the fire or at festivals. So there was a divide between court music and folk music, but pop music as we know it today didn't exist since there was no recording technology.
    As above, so below

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    Exactly what I was going to say. I would add that we seem to be leaving the era of pop music and returning back to a new form of folk, as the Internet erodes the copyright protections that made mass production of IP possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
    Yes, "contemporary art" typically has this aspect of "breaking the rules," coming up with something new (Brubeck, Copland...). As you say, breaking the rules is one thing; having a "pleasing" result is quite another.
    At least some of that rule-breaking was deliberately to make the result inaccessible to most people: if you weren't in the writer or composer's in-group, you were contemptible and to be ignored.

    Information about American English usage here and here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



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    We also don't celebrate our best and brightest--don't throw money at them like football does.

    Sad, that.

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    Music isn't always about " the Money " . It's about the art-form and the audience which appreciates it.
    Music which is appreciated and celebrated will endure . Money is just a convenient method of ensuring that the artists
    don't starve in their quest to entertain us. The hat is as mighty as the royalty check for some.

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