I think there are two components of genius, both of them exemplified by Mozart. One is what Napoleon used to call "genius" — the ability to take infinite pains with details. That is the genius referred to in your post. But there is something else in the genius of Mozart for example — the genius for the simple perfect melody — that has little to do with the the ability to focus on details.
Consider the Beatles tune "Blackbird" (Paul McCartney) or the fast section a few minutes into Mozart's 38th Symphony. In both melodies the initial theme is constructed of just a few tones — tonic to dominant, the most basic relation of any two notes in western tonal harmony — but in both cases a simple rhythmic twist created a melody of lasting perfection and beauty. There's something magic in that, something inspired and simple and purely aesthetic, that's an indispensable part of genius too.
May 03, 2009
From the Corner
A commenter on genuis:
Posted by TS at 4:28 PM