Zen for Ten 18: Positive Energy

Today’s post is about sending some good energy into the world, in a couple of different ways.

Music first. My featured piece today is Mozart’s Sonata in F Major, KV 280. It’s my favorite Mozart to perform, and includes one of my favorite slow movements ever. It has three movements total: Allegro, Andante, and Presto. The two outer movements are bright and cheerful, both in F Major, and the slow middle movement is meditative and lovely, a little darker in F minor.

Mozart belongs to the Classical era in music history, about 1750-1825 (this period is considered to end with Beethoven, who got us into the Romantic era). Mozart and Haydn were two of the biggest names of the time.

Composers in the Classical era had certain ideals in their writing. Elegance was a major point. Music should be – generalizing here, but it’s fair – polite, restrained, with clarity of structure and an emphasis on grace. It wasn’t expected to be overtly dramatic. Symphonies during this time were thought of as small pieces, appropriate to play in the intermissions between acts of an opera. (Try doing that with Beethoven’s Ninth.) In general, this was the gracious music of the ballroom and the afternoon tea party.

Mozart fit into that environment…mostly. If you’ve never seen the movie Amadeus, I highly recommend it. People pretty much agree that the jealous-Salieri-poisoning-Mozart business didn’t really happen, but the actor who plays Mozart gives us a brilliant view of his character. He belonged to this gracious, refined time, and moved in elegant society, certainly: but he loved to laugh, loved to drink, loved to party. He died very young, at age thirty-five, but he lived life to the hilt.

The sonata in today’s recording shows us a couple of different sides of Mozart. One is the polite Classical-era composer, writing a sonata according to the ideals of the time. Three movements are standard. You definitely want to start and end with fast movements, and slow down in the middle: Classical composers liked symmetry. The overall style of the piece has that gracious Classical flavor.

But already, we see a composer who’s getting away from some of the norms. Mozart has fun here. We hear lots of contrasts, soft moments interrupted by a crash of sound, fast fingery passages that sound like laughter. He’s pushing the boundaries of politeness, getting more into drama and fire. The slow movement is beautifully introspective and deeply felt. Then, in the last movement, he makes us laugh again, and shows off his own piano technique at the end.

I guarantee this piece will make you smile.


The other part of “positive energy” I wanted to mention today goes back to earlier posts, and also involves shameless horn-tooting (apologies!). I’m delighted now to have two books in the world, or on their way there. My short story chapbook Unraveled Souls is still available for Kindle: half of all proceeds to go to 826 National and support literacy and creativity for under-served students. If you’d like to help out this cause, you can order here.

My novel To Love A Stranger is also now available for pre-order, two different ways. You can currently buy the Kindle version on Amazon; if you order now, you’ll receive the e-book on its launch date, May 23. Print copies will be available to order on Amazon starting on the launch date.

Alternatively, you can pre-order your print copy now, through this website. My publisher and I have set up a special offer: for each print copy pre-ordered during March, one dollar will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, supporting equality and LGBTQ rights. Additional bonuses are available, this month only, if you’d like to order more than one copy. You can place your order here:


As an artist, it’s very important to me to use my work to do some good in the world. These days, it often feels like there are more problems than anyone – or even all of us together – can possibly address, but it’s important that we each keep doing what we can, when we can. I would like my music and my words to be part of that.

As always, thanks so much for visiting the blog. See you next time.


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