Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sleeping With Mozart

How is it possible to share a bed with a man who has been dead for 222 years?

It's simple - try learning to perform his music. It stays with you, like a living presence.

In choir, we often talk about "going to sleep" with the music we are working on. Our rehearsals end at 9 p.m. and the music lingers with us for some time afterward. It isn't unusual for a song to be stuck in our heads when we go to bed. I find that to be quite pleasant, actually. But if I wake up during the night, hearing certain pieces of music playing over and over can make it hard to get back to sleep.

We are currently rehearsing "Dies Irae" from Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor. Ironically, Mozart died while composing this "mass for the dead." He was only 35 years old. I don't know if he knew he was about to die, but the passion and near frantic pace of this music is anything but soothing. It IS beautiful, but it's no lullaby.

So on rehearsal nights lately, I've been doing my best to focus on some other piece of music as I drift off to sleep. Something by Gershwin, for example. Because if I'm going to sleep with a composer, I'd rather it not be Mozart.