Happy Eternity to Saint Wolfgang’s Music!

On 31 October the Christian Churches are celebrating Saint Wolfgang, one of the great German saints of the tenth century. During his lifetime Saint Wolfgang was a reformer of the Church, a teacher, a priest, a hermit, a missionary and a bishop. He has worked miracles of healing of the body but mostly of the soul. The place he retired to live in ascese was on the shores of a lake which today bears his name: WolfgangSee.

For 35 years Wolfgang Mozart has celebrated his name day on 31 October!

Sunday, 31 October 1762, at the age of six years, Wolfgang received from his father, Leopold, a compiled music book, as a gift for his name day.

Friday, 31 October 1777, Wolfgang was in Mannheim, together with Kapellmeister Christian Cannabich, Court violinist Johann Georg Danner and singer Anton Raaff. In the evening of his name day Wolfgang would attend the rehearsal of Haendel’s oratorio Messiah

Saturday, 31 October 1778, Mozart was giving his third concert in Strasbourg.

Wolfgang had arrived in town on October 10, heading home from Paris. In Strasbourg he discovered a wonderful illuminist city in which music, painting, fine arts were very much valued. On 17 October Mozart gave a piano recital at Poêle du Miroir, in the room which today bears his name, “Mozart Room”. On 24 and 31 October Mozart performed in a grand concert with orchestra, at the French Comedy (the building would be destroyed in 1800, in a fire).

Wednesday, 31 October 1781, Mozart was in Vienna.

He spent his name day at the Baroness Martha Elisabeth von Waldstätten, his generous patron and supporter, and also a dear friend. Mozart reached Baroness Waldstätten’s residence at 12 o’clock for lunch, they spent the afternoon together, and late in the evening, under his windows, Mozart could listen to his Serenade for Eight Winds (K 375), a surprise offered by the Baroness Waldstätten to honor his name day.

Sunday, 31 October 1784, in Vienna, Mozart’s pupils celebrated his name day performing a concert in his honor, at his home,  an apartment in Camesina Haus, not far from Stephansdom.

Mozart's apartment on Domgasse

Baron von Bagge from Paris, who at the time resided in Vienna, joined the celebration and played a violin concerto. In those times countesses, barons, duchesses, emperors played one or more musical instruments, and music was always present in their life.

There where he is, today, on his name day, we can only offer Wolfgang Mozart our deepest gratitude and affection! There where he is he already knows that His music has raised him to the right of the Saints!

To Saint Wolfgang of Music, a shy homage of our eternal love! And a musical thought on his name day: the beautiful Andante of his Piano Concerto 21!

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Today, 29 October 1787

223 years ago, on October 29, 1787, Mozart was undergoing the last preparations for the Praguese premiere of his opera Don Giovanni. Prague, the city so dear to him, had enthusiastically welcomed the great composer, who in turn had not hesitated to return their affection. “Meine Prager verstehen mich” – “My Praguers understand me” – this is how Mozart defined his relationship with the residents of the bohemian city. The premiere of Le nozze di Figaro of January 1787 had been a triumph: weeks in a row the Praguese would whistle and sing, on the streets and in the cafes, Figaro’s wonderful melodies. After this success Mozart was commissioned to write a new work: director Pasquale Bondini asked him to write a new opera which would be premiered in Prague. Mozart accepted and by the end of September 1787 he returned to Prague with Don Giovanni, on which he continued to work until the day of the premiere. On this visit in Prague Mozart stayed both in the city, at the inn “Zu den drei goldene Löwen” (“At the Three Gold Lions”), and outside the city, at the Villa Bertramka, the beautiful property of Josefa and František Dušek. It was here that Mozart found the oasis of silence in which he would conclude Don Giovanni.

The premiere of the opera took place in the splendid Estates Theatre, in that time named Nostitz National Theatre, honouring the aristocrate Antonion Nostitz Rieneck, whose illuminist vision and financial support had been the foundation of the theatre. Prague Estates Theatre is one of the few Europeans theatres which were preserved almost untouched to this day – a sign of the Czech’s respect and appreciation for their history and culture!

It is a miraculous feeling to step into this theatre and realize you are in the same place in which Wolfgang Mozart has conducted his masterpieces! 223 years ago, those lodges were roaring in anticipation of the moment in which the composer would appear in front of the public, then, after a gracious bow, would turn to the orchestra and give the signal for the beginning of the opera on which the  great French composer Charles Gounod would later say: “It is an unequalled and immortal masterpiece, the apogee of the lyrical drama. The score of Don Giovanni has exercised the influence of a revelation upon my whole life; it has been and remains for me a kind of incarnation of dramatic and musical infailibility. I regard it as a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection!”

223 years ago, in this very moment, Mozart’s Praguese were descending from their carriages in front of the theatre, first the gentlemen, dressed in splendid embroidered velvet costumes from which white lace shirts could be seen,  then the ladies, clothed in elegant robes of brocade, from under which rustled sumptuous dresses of satin and taffeta, trimmed with silk and pearls. The gilded stucco of the lodges sparkled in the light of  hundreds of candles and the spectators’ voices filled the theatre with a murmur that would melt in the lively applauses with which the composer was greeted the moment he appeared in the hall.

Provinzial Nachrichten of Vienna reported after this wonderful evening: “Herr Mozart conducted in person and was welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering”. And Prager Oberpostamtszeitung published a review on November 3, 1787: “Monday the 29th the Italian Opera Society presented the passionately awaited opera of the composer Mozart Don Giovanni, or the Stone Feast. Connoisseurs and musicians say that its equal has never been presented Prague. Herr Mozart himself conducted, and when he entered the orchestra, he was accorded a triple ovation; this occurred when he left the orchestra pit as well. As for the opera, it is extremely difficult to execute, and everyone admires, regardless, the good performance after such a short rehearsal period. Everything, theater and orchestra, offered its all to reward and thank Mozart with a good performance. Moreover, much expense was entailed by the several choruses and the decoration, all of which was splendidly arranged by Herr Guardasoni. The extraordinary number of spectators is evidence for the general approbation.”

223 years have passed since that golden moment of Music and Don Giovanni has remained one of the greatest works of the universal creation. The miraculous music of Wolfgang Mozart, The One Loved by God, speaks to our soul as emotionally, as powerfully today as then.

Words are useless, let us listen!

The musical sequences in the movie Amadeus were filmed in the Estates Theatre of Prague.

223 years ago, in this place, in this moment, Mozart was conducting his opera!

The Distribution of the Premiere of Don Giovanni, Prague, October 23, 1787

Il Dissoluto Punito ossia il Don Giovanni

Dramma giocoso in due atti

Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte

Conductor: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni: Luigi Bassi

Leporello: Felice Ponziani

Il Commendatore: Giuseppe Lolli

Donna Anna: Teresa Saporiti

Don Ottavio: Antonio Baglioni

Donna Elvira: Katherina Micelli

Masetto: Giuseppe Lolli

Zerlina: Caterina Bondini

 

NOVEMBER 2010 – ESTATES THEATRE OF PRAGUE – PERFORMANCES