THE STORY BEHIND: Mozart’s Symphony No.41 (Jupiter)

On January 25, violinist Karen Gomyo will join Bramwell Tovey, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform a special program featuring music composed by Wolfgang A. Mozart.

werk_00a_symphonien_gross_c3692b26_f220THE STORY BEHIND: Mozart’s Symphony No.41 (Jupiter)

Title: Symphony No.41 in C Major, K.551 (Jupiter)

Composer: Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756–1791)

When was the last time the Rhode Island Philharmonic played this piece: November 10, 2001

Orchestration: This piece is scored for on flute, two each of oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, timpani and strings.

The Story: 

During the summer of 1788, life was not going well for Mozart. Despite the successes of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna (1786) and Don Giovanni in Prague (1787), Mozart’s lack of income had reduced him to begging money from his friend, a textile merchant named Michael von Puchberg. During June and July, he wrote four letters to Puchberg continually asking for loans and making blue-sky promises of repayment as soon as his music started making money again.

Unfortunately, Mozart’s sincerity was much greater than his prospects. Through the summer, he composed diligently. In the remarkably short period of about two months, he composed three symphonies (the last in C major), which would prove to be his “final great trilogy.” These have become a Mozartian mystery. What occasion did he have in mind for performing these sublime works?

p17mozartALAMYDynamic contrast is the rhetoric of the Jupiter symphony’s opening two-motive theme, which Donald Tovey describes as “energetic gestures alternating with gentle pleadings.” The first movement’s second and concluding themes are lighter and more rococo. However, lightness is not long lived, as the latter becomes the theme of the development’s dramatic first half. In the second half, Mozart concentrates on the “energetic” first motive of the movement, leading naturally to a solid recapitulation.

In the Andante cantabile, also a sonata form, Mozart creates a mood by calling for muted strings. The idea of dynamic contrast recurs in this movement through sudden forte chords that punctuate the opening theme. The serenity of the opening soon gives way to a mood of agitation and unrest that dominates much of the remainder of the movement. Only towards the end does the placid opening theme return.

Some lighthearted relief comes in the form of the Menuetto. The main section’s grace and charm are suitably complemented by the dry wit of the trio section.

After Mozart’s death, the C Major Symphony was nicknamed Jupiter. Another sobriquet was “symphony with a fugue-finale.” The finale is not actually a fugue but a sonata form containing fugato (fugue-like) sections built on the five themes of the exposition: (1) the opening four-note theme; (2) the fanfare-like theme that immediately follows it; (3) the rising transition motive leading to (4) the sonata form’s “second theme” in a related key; and (5) a short, spiky countertheme to (4). Mozart’s method in the exposition is to present a fugato passage on a theme soon after it is first introduced. The development section concentrates almost exclusively on theme (2) in both the original form and inverted. The main body of the recapitulation is abbreviated and non-fugal, no doubt to allow for the full impact of the coda, the famous grand fugato that combines all five themes at once. Each is heard in every register—a heady kaleidoscope of “quintuple counterpoint.” This final passage is the crowning glory of this work—and perhaps of all Mozart’s symphonic works.

Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To purchase tickets visit tickets.riphil.org or call 401.248.7000

CL4.AllMozart_1200x675Facebook (1)

THE STORY BEHIND: Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3

On January 25, violinist Karen Gomyo will join Bramwell Tovey, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform a special program featuring music composed by Wolfgang A. Mozart.

KG_016 (1)THE STORY BEHIND: Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3

Title: Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major, K.216

Composer: Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756–1791)

When was the last time the Rhode Island Philharmonic played this piece: March 19, 2011

Orchestration: In addition to solo violin, the piece is scored for two each of flutes, oboes, horns, and strings

The Story: 

During the year 1775, Mozart was concertmaster of the Salzburg Prince-Archbishop’s orchestra. This meant that he played violin, led the orchestra, and no doubt was expected to perform occasionally as a soloist. Reflecting his position, the 19-year-old composer’s greatest accomplishments that year were his five concertos for violin and orchestra (K.207, 211, 216, 218, and 219). Oddly, he never again wrote a major work for violin solo.

The last three concerti came as a group between September and December 1775. Since their keys are G major, D major and A major, respectively, it is tempting to theorize that Mozart might have also intended a fourth concerto in E major, cleverly symbolizing the four strings of the violin (G-D-A-E).

The G Major Concerto’s first movement is freshness personified. Mozart offers his captivating themes in a compact orchestral segment before bringing in the soloist. The dramatic working out of the themes is appropriately completed by a segment in the style of an opera recitative.

“. . . Instead of an Andante there is an Adagio that seems to have fallen straight from heaven. . . .” Alfred Einstein’s statement about the second movement speaks for all of us who become breathless at the eloquence and depth of this teenager’s music. Part of the magic of the movement is the result of instrumentation: flutes (instead of the more usual oboes) and muted violins.

The finale is full of peasant-dance merriment and surprises. The central section has unexpected tinges of Gypsy spirit. Soon, completely unrelated, slower music seems again to have “fallen straight from heaven.” These may have been humorous musical quotations in the spirit of jolly Salzburg serenades. The concerto’s surprise ending is for oboes and horns only.

Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To purchase tickets visit tickets.riphil.org or call 401.248.7000

CL4.AllMozart_1200x675Facebook (1)

THE STORY BEHIND: The Magic Flute: Overture

On January 25, Karen Gomyo will join Bramwell Tovey, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform a special program featuring music composed by Wolfgang A. Mozart.

 

wolfgang-mozart-9417115-2-402THE STORY BEHIND: The Magic Flute: Overture

Title: The Magic Flute: Overture, K.620

Composer: Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756–1791)

When was the last time the Rhode Island Philharmonic played this piece: February 22, 2014

Orchestration: The piece is scored for two each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings.

Special Note: This piece will be performed by a combined orchestra including the Rhode Island Philharmonic and members of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra.  This marks the first time students have played on a Saturday Classical Concert with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Story: 

Scarcely more than two months before the death of Wolfgang A. Mozart, his last opera, The Magic Flute, was produced in a small theater in Vienna. The work was a collaboration between Mozart and his fellow Mason, Emmanuel Schikaneder. At the time, the Freemasons included artists, intellectuals and other “free thinkers.” Gatherings were outlawed in Catholic countries, but there was a limited tolerance around Vienna at the time.

Much has been made of the Masonic content of The Magic Flute, particularly about the ritualistic use of the number three. Mozart makes his “Masonic key” of E-flat (a signature
of three flats) the main key of the opera and of its overture.

The overture opens with a grand, three-fold fanfare. Following that, a mysterious introduction leads quietly into the Allegro. Listen now to the comic theme in the violins. Listen to it come back again and again. Mozart is building a fugue on this brilliant, comic main theme. After a while, Mozart brings back the three-fold fanfare of the opening, but in the rhythms of a Masonic initiation. Then he plunges his comic fugue theme into a “journey” that finally leads back to the home key, a re-affirmation of the main theme,
and an ending on three big unison notes.

Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To purchase tickets visit tickets.riphil.org or call 401.248.7000

CL4.AllMozart_1200x675Facebook (1)