Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mozart in the Academy

Dear Dean

This is in response to your suggestion that we appoint Mr. Wolfgang Mozart to our music faculty. The music department appreciates your interest, but the faculty is sensitive about its prerogatives in the selection of new colleagues. While the list of works and performances submitted by the candidate is impressive, the committee feels that it reflects too much activity outside of academia. Mozart does not have an earned doctorate and has very little formal education and teaching experience.

There is also evidence of instability and wanderlust in his resume. Would he settle down in a music school like ours? Would he be a team player? We are concerned about the well-publicized incidents leading to Mozart's dismissal from his former employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg. Mozart's lack of respect for authority suggests an inability to work with our team. Franz J. Haydn's letter of recommendation is supportive, but Haydn is writing from a unique situation. The Esterhazy palace is a private institution and consequently able to accommodate talented non-academics, like Haydn. Here we are concerned about everybody, not just the elite. Furthermore, we suspect cronyism in Haydn's recommendation for his close friend. It is well known that Mozart dedicated six string quartets to Haydn, perhaps in the hope of gaining his support.

After Mozart's interview with our distinguished musicology faculty, they reported him to be sadly lacking in knowledge of Western Music before Bach and Handel. If he were to teach only music composition, this might not be a serious problem. The questions remains, however, would be he an effective teacher of music history? The applied faculty were impressed with his pianism, but thought his performance on the violin and viola stretched his versatility dangerously close to dilettantism. The composition faculty was also sceptical about his vast output of works in all genres. They correctly point out that Mozart's prolificacy has resulted in works of inconsistent quality. One of our full professors mentioned that Mozart shamelessly promotes his music through his own performance. Despite his notoriety he has never won the support of a single major foundation.

One of our faculty members was present a year ago at the premiere of Mozart's performance of one of his piano concertos. After the performance he was astonished to discover that Mozart had not bothered to write out the entire piano part before the performance. This type of improvisation may be very well in his world, but it is unacceptable behaviour in the academy. We expect deadlines to be fully met including all paperwork.

It must be admitted that Mozart is an entertaining man at dinner where he spoke enthusiastically about his music and his travels. Yet a female faculty member was deeply offended by his misogynist jokes. She left the room after his tasteless attempts at scatological humour. This type of behaviour is not surprising from a composer who found the subject of Don Juan suitable for an opera.

As a committee we were happy to have had the chance to meet the candidate from Salzburg, but we cannot recommend his appointment. Even if he were acceptable, Mozart has no hope of achieving tenure. He hasn't completed his doctorate and he spoke disparagingly about continuing his education. When you write to Mozart, please give him our kindest regards. We wish him every success in his career. The committee is unanimous, however, that he cannot fulfil the needs of our department.

We wish to recommend the appointment of Antonio Salieri, a musician of the highest ideals and probity who accurately reflects the aims and values that we espouse. We are eager to welcome such a musician and person to our faculty.

Sincerely yours,

The Search Committe

P.S. Some good news. Our senior professor of composition tells me there is now a very good chance that a movement of his concerto will have its premiere within two years. You will remember that his work was commissioned by a foundation and won first prize nine years ago.
[via a colleague]

5 comments:

Skwid said...

That is hilarious.

Canadian Basso said...

Brilliant - hope you don't mind a link!

Ariadne said...

Love it, love it, love it! (Will link to this asap as well.)

This is an instant "Must Read"!

Marcus Maroney said...

This is easily one of the best things I've read on any blog, ever!

Rebecca Jane said...

Hahahaha this is Great!