Why Mozart Didn't get Tenure
- With copious thanks to Stewart W!
In a message dated 12/12/2005 2:37:42 PM Eastern Standard Time, SWarkow@... writes:
Why Mozart Didn't Get Tenure
This is in response to your suggestion that we appoint Mr. Wolfgang
Mozart to our music faculty. The music department appreciates your
interest, but the faculty is sensitive about its prerogatives in the
selection of new colleagues.
While the list of works and performances the candidate has submitted
is very full, it reflects too much activity outside academia. Mr.
Mozart does not have an earned doctorate and has very little formal
education and teaching experience. There is also significant evidence
of personal instability evidenced in his resume. Would he really
settle down in a large state university like ours? Would he really be
a team player?
I must voice a concern over the incidents with his former superior,
the Archbishop of Salzburg. They hardly confirm his abilities to be a
good team man and show a disturbing lack of respect for authority.
Franz Haydn's letter of recommendation is noted, but Mr. Haydn is
writing from a very special situation. Esterhazy is a well-funded
private institution quite dissimilar from us and abler than we to
accommodate non-academics, like Mr. Haydn himself. Here we are
concerned about everybody, not just the most gifted. Furthermore, we
suspect cronyism on the part of Mr. Haydn.
After Mr. Mozart's interview with the musicology faculty, they found
him sadly lacking in any real knowledge of music before Bach and
Handel. If he were to teach only composition, this might not be a
serious impediment. But would he be an effective teacher of music
The appl ied faculty were impressed with his pianism, although they
thought it was somewhat old-fashioned. That he also performed on
violin and viola seemed to us to be stretching versatility dangerously
thin. We suspect a large degree of dilletantism on his part.
The composition faculty was skeptical about his vast output. They
correctly warn us from their own experience that to receive many
commissions and performances is no guarantee of quality. The senior
professor pointed out that Mr. Mozart promotes many of these
performances himself. He has never won the
support of a major foundation.
One of our faculty members was present a year ago at the premiere of,
I believe, a violin sonata. He discovered afterwards that Mr. Mozart
had not written out all the parts for the piano before he played it.
This may be very well in that world, but it sets a poor example for our
students. We expect deadlines to be met on time, and this includes all
It must be admitted that Mr. Mozart is an entertaining man at dinner.
He spoke enthusiastically about his travels. It was perhaps
significant, though, that he and the music faculty seem to have few
acquaintances in common.
One of our female faculty members was deeply offended by his bluntness.
She even had to leave the room after one of his endless parade of
anecdotes. This propensity of his to excite the enmity of some is
hardly conducive to the establishment of the comity to which we aspire
to maintain on our faculty, let alone the image that we wish to project to the community at large.
We are glad as a faculty to have had the chance to meet this visitor,
but we cannot recommend his appointment. Even if he were appointed,
this is almost no hope of his being granted tenure. The man
simply showed no interest in going to school to collect his doctorate.
This is egotism at its zenith.
Please give our regards to Mr. Mozart when you write him. We wish him
our very best for a successful career. All are agreed, though, that he
cannot fulfill the needs of this department. We wish to recommend the
appointment of Antonio Salieri, a musician of the highest ideals and
probity that accurately reflect the aims and values that we espouse.
We would be eager to welcome such a musician and person to our
The Chair and Faculty of the Department of Music
P.S. Some good news. Our senior professor of composition tells me
there is now a very good chance that a movement of his concerto will
have its premiere within two years. You will remember that his work was
commissioned by a foundation and won first prize nine years ago.
Ganz & Hollinger, P. C.
1394 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10021-0404 USA