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August 19, 2006

On listening to the complete Mozart


New Yorker music critic Alex Ross did it and wrote about the experience in an article in the July 24 issue.

Long story (literally โ€” it took him three months) short: Ross wrote that having done so, he "was more in awe than ever."

The method: Ross transferred the 1991 Philips label deluxe, complete Mozart edition (180 CDs in 17 boxes) to his iPod.

It required 9.77 gigabytes, in case you're interested.

If you've got the time, Ross's article's got more โ€” much more.

August 19, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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The Philips edition is:

1) nearly impossible to find intact and really expensive (>$2,000 USD) in its first heavily annotated edition:


2) Still pretty expensive (>$1,000 USD) in it's recent less annotated edition:



However, if you can do without all the fancy boxes, there is a much less expensive version for around $200 USD from a different publisher:


caveat emptor: this reviewer has heard none of either.

Posted by: sb | Aug 20, 2006 6:55:40 PM

Mozart is my favorite composer. Not necessarily to perform (but I love everything about the D and G major flute concertos) and certainly not because of everything he wrote -- there are chunks of various eras of his that don't grab me. His music takes me deeper into it, every time, even when I've heard a certain piece a hundred times. He wrote, in addition to some of the greatest operas ever written, what is, to me, THE most perfect of all operas -- The Marriage of Figaro. He understood how to write for the voice like nobody else. I love it that the article explains that he got as great as he did because he worked so hard at using his remarkable abilities.

When I was a freshman in college, the voice department put on an English-language production of Figaro one week, and I went to every performance, every night and two matinees. That first night performance I saw was the first opera of any kind I had ever seen, and I had the unbelievably phenomenal luck to see The Marriage of Figaro, and a Figaro done with amazingly good voices and musicians, and done in English, to boot. (I know, I know, many would say that is a complete sacrilege, and of course I agree in almost all circumstances, but it allowed me to follow the story, and the first thing I did the next day was go to the music library and check out the recording in Italian, and the complete score, and memorize the whole thing. Hey -- I was in LOVE.) It was kind of like having a Rolls Royce for my first car. (And speaking of love, it didn't hurt any that I had the major hots [totally unrequited] for the tenor who sang Basilio.)

Posted by: Flautist | Aug 19, 2006 11:17:54 PM

Great article. Listening to all of Mozart end-to-end! Like reading all of Shakespeare. What a marvelous thing to be able to do. I mean, how many people in the past would have had access to the whole thing in performances (none), sheet music (a few), much less fine orchestral recordings (zero)? I'd wager not a single person in Mozarts era or any era up to the most recent one ever even *could* have done this -- even over a lifetime. What tremendous riches surround us.

I'm commencing as soon as I can get a digital version (no CD's) of the Philips collection. Seems like the perfect thing to download direct from iTunes (who wants 180 *more* CD's collecting dust).

A statistical musing: I wonder how many notes there are in all the scores? I wonder how many notes that translates to per day over Mozart's ~30 year life. Considering that all of them are high quality notes, I'm sure it is an astounding number.

Posted by: sb | Aug 19, 2006 5:02:09 PM

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