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Mozart's Optimism

It’s hard to find a classical music lover who doesn’t love the music of Mozart. It’s when we try to describe why we love Mozart that things can get complicated. We’re describing something indisputably real—our love of Mozart—but unless we stick to strictly technical analyses, we have to use words that will necessarily be both subjective and metaphorical. My own words? I keep coming back to two: humanity and optimism.

What I somehow hear in Mozart, whether in his operas or his instrumental works, is both a deep understanding of humanity and a deep affection for humanity, for human beings with all their foibles and frailties.  I also hear a kind of fundamental optimism. Not a vision of Utopia, or of Triumph and Transcendence, but the simple optimism that says that it’s important to be joyful when we can; to know that things often really do turn out all right; and to remember that all in all it’s wonderful to be alive.

TA Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.