In some cultures names are held to be so important and personal that members of the culture keep them secret from strangers.
Even in Western society, names stir emotions. It bothers us to see our names misspelled or hear them mispronounced. Journalists try hard to avoid offending the subjects of their stories by doing either.
I recall the confused ripple General Colin Powell caused on NPR as announcers stumbled over the pronunciation of his first name. They were used to the traditional short o pronunciation of the name “Colin” and required a day or so to settle to the long o with which the general pronounces it.
Not all the NPR announcers have yet figured out that Bill Clinton does not pronounce “Clinton” with a t, but with a glottal stop.
When it comes to living people, the pronunciation of a name can be settled by asking the person to whom it belongs. That’s not the case with the names of long-dead writers or composers.
The name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been pronounced the same way by English speakers for a very long time now. It seems to me that the traditional pronunciation of the name can be considered the correct pronunciation.
So why are some people beginning to pronounce “Mozart” as if they were saying “Moe’s art”?
I’ve heard more than one radio announcer pronounce it that way.
Can this be the thin edge of the wedge? Is the next step going to be pronouncing “Beethoven” and “Bach” as [bee-thoven] and [bahtch]?
Here, for the benefit of the young and inexperienced are the traditional pronunciations of the Big Three as given at Inogolo, a site dedicated to conveying the correct pronunciation of proper names.