Friday, September 10, 2010

Mozartian Eucatastrophe

"I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made."

---J.R.R. Tolkein 'Letter 89'*

 The final allegro assai may be as fizzing as the overture which inaugurated his folle journée, but the true climax is the andante that precedes it, as the Count twice begs forgiveness (the second phrase intensifying the first), the Countess grants it in six bars of noble magnanimity, completing the melody he began, and the whole company takes it up in words that are banal - "Ah tutti contenti saremo cosi" ("Then let us all be happy") - but in music that is on the heights.
Mozart's reconciliations are real. They invoke the good in human nature. His vision embraces the pain and cruelty as well as the compassion - the darkness and the light; but it is the light that prevails.
 --- David Cairns Mozart and His Operas, p. 131-132

*see further, On Fairy-Stories

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