On Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Why censor him?

A couple of weeks ago I read in the New York Times about a new collection of Mozart’s complete works and soon thereafter ordered it from Amazon:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Complete Works (170 CD Box Set) [BOX SET]

When it arrived I opened the box, randomly picked out one of the CD’s, and put it in my player. Turns out it was Vol. 6, CD 8, Track 1: Twelve variations on the French song “Ah, vous dirai-je,Maman”, in C major KV 256 (1781-1782).

The melody was very familiar. I recognized it in an instant, as would you: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star …”

It is playing now as I write this.

This is the form of DRM I like the most: Digitally Recorded Mozart.

This past Wednesday, September 27, 20006, I noticed a story in the bottom left corner of the front page of the New York Times:


Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad

By Judy Dempsey and Mark Landler

BERLIN, Sept. 26 – A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Propher Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrentder of artistic freedom.

The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled “Idomeneo” from its fall schedule after police warned of an “incalculable risk” to the performers and the audience.

The company’s director, Kirsten Harms, said she regretted the decision but felt she had no choice. She said she was told in August that the police had received an anonymous threat, but she acted only after extensive deliberations.

Political and cultural figures throughout Germany condemned the cancellation. Some said it recalled the decision of European newspapers not to reprint satirical cartoons about Muhammad, after their publication in Denmark generated a furor among Muslims.


You know, some stories make your heart warm, some make you fret a bit before you move on, and some really wake you up.

This is one that really woke me up. I think of it as Deutsche Rights Management.

Think about it. The same police who were quite comfortable seventy years ago marching into homes, ripping people from their daily lives and carting them off to their destruction — those police are now quite comfortable advising an opera house that it cannot perform Mozart because of an “incalculable risk” they can’t handle.


What happened? I don’t know. Let’s call it Deutsche Rights Management

Now I could go on now, but I’m not. Because first we have to decided how to communicate.

I say this because we are starting an experiment to see if it is possible to carry out a meaningful discussion in full public view.
I will send you messages from by blog.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

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