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Published by Paul Henrickson

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Published by: Paul Henrickson on Dec 05, 2012
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1790
 Antonio Salieri, 1774CREATIVITY, ABSOLUTELY OR MORE OR LESS? A Study of Mozart and SalieriBy Paul Henrickson, Ph.D. ©2006 
tm. © 2007
The following started out as notes to my self upon reseeing the Peter
Schaffer film “Amadeus”. Initially, I had been seduced by the films
imagery, characterizations and, above all, by the music. This is what filmsare intended to do and they are often measured in terms of their successin accomplishing just that in its audience. However, other things,problems, concerns, pleasures, or whatever, going on in my life would notlet some of the questions remain unanswered that had come up in theseeing of the film, so, in an effort to bring those questions to rest I keptviewing the video tape of Amadeus until, I am certain the images arepermanently imbedded on the metal of the drive of my PC. During theseviewings I took notes on the many incidents in the film asking myself whyit may have been that they were shown the way they were. Also, as part of this general problem of understanding the nature of creativity, I had over the past few years been intermittently in contactwith another individual very much involved with the matter of creative thinking. This person who has been a most generous and kind fellow doesnot see exactly eye to eye with me concerning the nature of creativity. He
sees creativity as being something that can be taught. I do not. I seecreative activity as being a result of a general mood of dissatisfaction withsome gestalt; in whatever medium that gestalt happens to find itself,which expresses itself in a nervous compulsion to rearrange constituentparts until there is a better fit. This experience soon becomes acompulsive habit as the process of solution becomes pleasurable.addictive and required .This neurosis, if you will, is not something that can be taught, for example,as one teachers that 2+2=5 (
yes, I did this on purpose to make a point) 
 , nor isit something that any educator would wish to
anyone at all.However, a respectful teacher, or better still a perceptive educator, wouldcertainly want to give the creative neurotic every opportunity to develophis skills to discover ways of identifying a more satisfactory fit.It is at this point that a willingness to alter orthodox methods of performance, to experiment, and to tolerate errors in judgment and anopenness to change are preferred over the rule following expectations of most school systems where what is most treasured is obedience overinvention.If Salieri had experienced the grave disappointment in the response to hiscreative efforts that often comes when the creator is not sensitive to theorganic nature of the creative act
(this is not to say that the public is consistently a good or reliable judge of value which may explain why I vehementally disagree with the notion that one should leave some decisions up to something called history) 
it may well have been because of what a commentator, A.Parker, meant when he praised Salieri, as a composer, for being
Pushkin may also have sensed what I am sensing, when he had Salieri, inthe play he wrote about the relationship, strongly react to the
 “inappropriate”, but hypothetical possibility of someone mocking Raphael.Pushkin’s choice of Raphael makes a lot of sense to me since, for me,
Raphael bares the same relationship to Michelangelo as Salieri did to
Mozart in Shafer’s mind.
It is this sense of aesthetic good manners that keeps many from being ascreative as they might. Personal courage and a selected disregard forconvention are some of the ingredients in the making of a creativeproduct. If there is any one area in which Salieri and Mozart differ in theirpersonalities it is this area. Salieri. it might be said, was too caught up inthe noble and privileged life style coming as he had done from a bankruptmiddle-class bourgeois background. Rescued at 15 after the death of hisfather and consequently rescued
from the father’s indifference to the lad’s interests, and fortuitously
placed, apparently by a sympathetic listener, with musical tutors, he maybeen fearful of losing this advantage and having to return to
that indifference to his cravings. As a defense against that possibilitybecame thoroughly attached to the aristocratic system.On the other hand Mozart had grown up within the aristocratic systemand had not learned to be easily intimidated by it. He, therefore, hadexperienced little by way of prompting to abide by its tenets, especiallywhere these might conflict with what he viewed as the requirements of his craft. It is this that particularly punctuates the difference between thedemands inherent in creative production that make the arts a spear-headfor an evolving civilization and art becomes corrupted when it accedes tothe demand for flattering approval from its usual patronage, the moneyedclasses.It is rare when those with money, social ambition and intelligence findthemselves in a position of real leadership. Most often it is that group withonly the first two of those three qualities which prevails and this,consequently, leaves those who are loudest
(for intelligence 
loathes to resort to brutish tools 
) in the position of being the most influential among theintellectually and intelligently deprived. This is one way in which societyallows itself to reach incrementally the upper levels of the most common.This distinction not only underscores the difference between a teacher andan educator but should point us toward a new appreciation for thespiritual in human experience. This is certainly one of the ways in whichthe Schafer film was helpful for it accurately described the intense
torment Mozart’s wife felt when she struggled to understand the nature of 
the creative drive motivating her
husband’s responses. That is, of course,
very nearly an impossible task, especially for a wife who could well see
her husband’s creative compulsion as a threat to her domestic existence.
She did, however, enter into the alliance with some foreknowledge, forshe was, after all the cousin to Carl Maria von Weber, but, moreimportantly his father was a Kapellmeister as well and the biographical
suggestion that the “von” added to the name was an aristocratic
-soundingapplication seems to bear some influence on our understanding whatprobably was the profile of the Amadeus household. The ruling classes areoften toughest on their own if any one of them exhibits the temerity tochallenge conventional wisdom.This may have accounted, to some extent, for her choice of a secondhusband, after Mozart had died, of one who would help her, to someextent and in some ways, to put her own questions to rest.There were several tragedies suggested by this film in addition to the oneinvolving Mozart himself, that which involved Salieri who, in so far as thefilm is concerned, came off very much the worse for wear, and whether ornot for theatrical or dramatic contrast or not so did the Emperor.

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