‘Was soll ich die Musen…’

The first performance in Prague of “Le Nozze di Figaro” in Mozart’s presence took place on 17 January 1787, followed by a second performance on 22 January with the composer conducting. On their superb scholarly site “Mozart: New Documents”, Dexter Edge and David Black present a document dated 18 January 1787: a notice from The Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung (edited by Lorenz Hübner), stating that through a poem and two letters (one signed by the entire Prague Orchestra) Mozart was invited to come to Prague to see the “Figaro” which had already been acclaimed there a number of times in the end of 1786. Visit the site to read the excellent research in its entirety, and see the document : 

https://sites.google.com/site/mozartdocuments/documents/1787-01-18

Dexter Edge & David Black – 18 January 1787, Mozart’s invitation to Prague

“The first performances of Le nozze di Figaro in Prague took place in late autumn 1786. The precise date of the Prague premiere is unknown, but the first report on the opera in the Prager Oberpostamtzeitung on 12 Dec 1786 states that it had already been given a number of times (“einigemal”) by that point.

That same report cites a rumor that Mozart himself might come to Prague to see the production.

The new document transcribed here, from the Salzburg newspaper Oberdeutsche Staatszeitung, states that Mozart had been sent a poem and two letters, one signed by the entire Prague orchestra, inviting him to come to Prague to see the production. The content of the report closely mirrors Leopold Mozart’s letter to his daughter of 12 Jan 1787, six days earlier:

“Your brother will now be in Prague with his wife, for he wrote me that he would depart for there this past Monday [8 Jan]. His opera Le nozze di Figaro has been performed with such acclaim there, that the orchestra and a group of great connoisseurs and amateurs wrote him a letter of invitation, and sent a poem that had been written about him. I have it from your brother, and Count Starhemberg has received it from Prague. I will send it to you on the next post day. Mme. Duschek is going to Berlin, and the story that your brother will travel to England is repeatedly confirmed from Vienna, from Prague, and from Munich.”

The poem that accompanied the invitation to Prague was written by doctor and amateur actor Anton Daniel Breicha: “An Mozart bey Gelegenheit der Vorstellung der Oper le nozze di Figaro” (Dokumente, 248–49), first published as an individual sheet (a copy of which had been sent to Mozart and evidently also to Starhemberg), and subsequently printed in the anthology Blumen, Blümchen und Blätter edited by Johann Dionys John  (John 1787, 15–17).” 

Dexter Edge & David Black, eds., Mozart: New Documents, “18 January 1787 – Mozart’s invitation to Prague,” first published 13 May 2015, updated 2 Nov 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.7302/Z20P0WXJ

And here is the poem…

the-poem-that-accompanied-mozarts-invitation-to-prague-jan-1787-written-by-doctor-and-amateur-actor-anton-daniel-breicha

“Was soll ich die Musen, begeistert von Dir,  

Um Beystand beschwören? Sey Muse du mir!  

Sey Du mir des Pindus beauschende Quelle!  

Ich hört’ Dich, melodischer Denker, und priess      

Dein Schopfertalent, und in’s Wonnermeer riss

Mich bald der empfindungen mächtigste Welle.

Zwar rollen bey Deinem Getöne nicht Wald,

Nicht Felsen herbey; nicht fabelhaft hallt

Dein sprechendes Spiel dem gefrässigen Tiger.

Doch bist Du der Fühlenden Orpheus mehr,

Bist Herrscher der Seelen, Dir fröhnt das Gehör

Der Kinder, der Mädchen, der Männer, der Krieger. 

Wenn Liebe Dein schmelzendes Saitenspiel tönt,

Sucht trunken der Jüngling sein Liebchen, und stöhnt,

Und heftiger hämmert der Busen dem Liebchen.

Sie winkt den Geliebten zum Göttergenuss,

Und mit in Dein Saitenspiel lispelt ein Kuss

Von Lippen des Jünglings, von Lippen des Liebchen…” 

Anton Daniel BreichaAN MOZART, Bey Vostellung seiner Oper: Figaro. 1785.  

(Transcription from Georg Nissen’s “Biografie Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts”

 

a-d-breicha-an-mozart-blumen-blumchen-und-blatter-stat-eines-prager-musenalmanachs-prag-und-wien-1787 blumen-blumchen-und-blatter-stat-eines-prager-musenalmanachs-prag-und-wien-1787

 

blumen-blumchen-und-blutter-stat-eines-prager-musenalmanachs-prag-und-wien-1787

Blumen, Blümchen und Blätter

Stat eines Prager Musenalmanachs 

Prag und Wien, 1787 

Odihnindu-se în pace…

sankt-marx-cemetery-vienna-january-2016-2

“Dragul meu tată!

– în acest moment am primit o veste care mă întristează foarte mult – cu atât mai mult cu cât din ultima dumitale scrisoare am putut să presupun că te simți, slavă Domnului, foarte bine; – Dar acum aflu că ești cu adevărat bolnav! nu trebuie să-ți mai spun cât de mult tânjesc să primesc o veste consolatoare din partea dumitale; și o sper cu putere – deși mi-am făcut obiceiul să-mi imaginez întotdeauna și în toate privințele tot ceea ce poate fi mai rău – din moment ce moartea (când o luăm în considerare îndeaproape) este adevăratul scop al vieții noastre, mie de câțiva ani într-atât mi-a devenit de cunoscut acest sincer și foarte bun prieten al oamenilor, încât chipul lui nu mai are nimic înfricoșător pentru mine, ci mai degrabă îmi aduce liniște și  consolare! și îi mulțumesc dumnezeului meu că mi-a acordat prilejul (dumneata știi ce vreau să spun) de a înțelege că moartea este cheia care deschide ușa spre adevărata noastră fericire. – nu mă culc niciodată în patul meu fără a cugeta că aș putea (oricât de tânăr sunt) să nu mai fiu a doua zi – și nu există nici un om dintre cei ce mă cunosc care să poată spune că aș fi posac sau trist în relațiile mele – și pentru această binecuvântare îi mulțumesc zilnic Creatorului meu și o doresc din inimă fiecărui seamăn al meu…”

Viena, 4 aprilie 1787 

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“Mon tres cher père!

– diesen augenblick höre ich eine Nachricht, die mich sehr niederschlägt – um so mehr als ich aus ihrem lezten vermuthen konnte, daß sie sich gottlob recht wohl befinden; – Nun höre aber daß sie wirklich krank seÿen! wie sehnlich ich einer Tröstenden Nachricht von ihnen selbst entgegen sehe, brauche ich ihnen doch wohl nicht zu sagen; und ich hoffe es auch gewis – obwohlen ich es mir zur gewohnheit gemacht habe mir immer in allen Dingen das schlimste vorzustellen – da der Tod |: genau zu nemen : | der wahre Endzweck unsers Lebens ist, so habe ich mich seit ein Paar Jahren mit diesem wahren, besten Freunde des Menschen so bekannt gemacht, daß sein Bild nicht allein nichts schreckendes mehr für mich hat, sondern recht viel beruhigendes und tröstendes! und ich danke meinem gott, daß er mir das glück gegönnt hat mir die gelegenheit |: sie verstehen mich : | zu verschaffen, ihn als den schlüssel zu unserer wahren Glückseligkeit kennen zu lernen. – ich lege mich nie zu bette ohne zu bedenken, daß ich vielleicht |: so Jung als ich bin : | den andern Tag nicht mehr seÿn werde – und es wird doch kein
Mensch von allen die mich kennen sagn können daß ich im Umgange mürrisch oder traurig wäre – und für diese glückseeligkeit danke ich alle Tage meinem Schöpfer u wünsche sie vom Herzen Jedem meiner Mitmenschen…”

Wien 4. April 1787

“Dearest father!
This very moment I have received some news which greatly distresses me – the more so as I gathered from your last letter that, thank God, you were very well; – But now I hear that you are really ill! I hardly need to tell you how eagerly I look forward to some reassuring news from you; and I hope for it – although I have now made a habit of being prepared for the worst in all affairs of life – as death (when we come to consider it closely) is the true goal of our existence, I have during the last few years come so know so well this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is rather very calming and consoling! and I thank my God for granting me the opportunity (you know what I mean) of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. – I never lie down at night without reflecting that (young as I am) I may not live to see another day – and there is no one of those who know me who could say that in company I am sullen or sad – and for this blessing I thank my Creator every day and wish it from my heart to each one of my fellow men…”
Vienna, 4 April 1787
Source of German transcription: Ludwig Nohl
Source of English translation: Emily Anderson (slightly modified)
Source of image of excerpts from Mozart’s letter: The Berlin Staatsbibliothek.
Many thanks to Dr Michael Lorenz for the information that the digitized document is actually a copy dating from around 1850, in the handwriting of Ludwig von Köchel!

Mozart a parcurs drumul și ne lasă muzica…

mozarts-memorial-in-sankt-marx-cemetery-vienna-january-2016-2

“S-a spus de multe ori că miracolul lui Mozart ca muzician constă în această perfecțiune a formei pe care n-o găsești dacă aspiri la ea, dacă lași să se vadă efortul, chiar eroic, căutarea, chiar nobilă; da, Mozart este un moștenitor și cu el se desăvârșește o civilizație a muzicii, ale cărei rezultate savante și artificii sfinte el le rezumă cu o naivitate intactă și o simplitate divină; da, Mozart poartă în el, înnăscut, geniul experienței; prin natură, întreaga cultură; geniul său îl condamnă la perfecțiune: și se știe cum ne-o dă, supraabundent. Unui om aflat din punct de vedere fizic în pragul prăbușirii, gata să se dezintegreze, o ultimă stagiune îi impune efortul incredibil a două opere, fiecare epuizând inventivitatea, prospețimea ideilor creatorului său; și totuși, în acest timp,  în subteran, un întreg Recviem își sapă calea, conducând la alte nuanțe, la un alt ton. Acest exces de sarcini, la fel de urgente, la fel de pasionante, nu apasă asupra lui Mozart decât pentru a-l obliga în sfârșit să lase ceva neterminat, pentru a-i converti viziunea la deschidere. Până acum, cu mici excepții în Don Giovanni, Mozart nu a locuit decât în universul închis și binecuvântat al formelor, și doar melancolia muzicii sale, ea însăși acoperită cu vălul Maiei și ademenindu-ne cu frumusețea sa, dezvăluie strigătul sufletului. Dar iată că vălul se rupe. Titus și Flautul sunt creații ale secolului lor, ale lumii noastre, terminate, închise; dacă ceva evocă aici o lume de dincolo, nu e nici virtutea sublimă a unui suveran, cu atât mai puțin înțelepciunea preoților sau riturile lor; toate acestea mai degrabă ar reconforta și împăca – dar numai durerea. În vocea Vitelliei, a Paminei, durerea sfâșie vălul. Tot ce e strigăt al inimii la Mozart, fie că-l încredințează unui clarinet, unei viole sau unei voci de femeie, doar asta deschide către o altă lume și o reflectă deja cu această blândețe excesivă, care disperă și totodată consolează. Înainte de Recviem însă, nu există la Mozart muzică din altă lume, care să te smulgă din lumea aceasta. Neterminarea Recviemului nu înseamnă că moartea i-a smuls pana lui Mozart din mână înainte de a scrie muzica pentru cor ca să-l încheie; înseamnă că Mozart, cu pana în mână, pătrunde în sfârșit în propria lume de dincolo. Copil fiind, a văzut picturile de pe tavanul Capelei Sixtine; imaginea lor pune din nou stăpânire pe el, eclipsează, aneantizează aceste frumoase spații albe și aurii ale barocului pe unde trec atât de frumoși îngeri manieriști, purtători ai vreunei vești teribile. Până acum Mozart n-a scris decât muzică, dar muzică perfectă. Iată sunetul instantaneu: un sunet pur, erupție a materiei, ca un scandal. Tuba mirum spargens sonum. Sunetul acestei tube nu trezește nici un fel de admirație, cum s-ar traduce prost din latină; el uimește și dezrădăcinează, el expatriază; credeam că locuim în peisajul nostru uman, iată exodul. Astfel și culoarea, într-un tablou, pură erupție și prezență, trimite în zădărnicie tot ce se credea formă. În fața unui asemenea sunet, vocile noastre își inventează o declamație înfricoșată, haotică, pe care Mozart nu ne-a făcut niciodată s-o ascultăm. Aici Mozart intră în celălalt secol al său și ne lasă să înțelegem cine ar fi fost dacă s-ar fi născut în vremea și în spațiul lui Beethoven, în loc să se lupte de unul singur pentru ca apariția celor ca Beethoven să fie posibilă. O frescă prinde viață, prezențe redutabile își găsesc relieful, gestul. Mozart locuiește în ceea ce Kant al Criticii facultății de judecare, contemporanul său, numea peisajul Frumosului, unde totul e reconciliere, integrare, acord al universului cu fiecare; iată-l transpus în Sublim; mai mult cer înstelat ca să ne spună și norma și forma; mai mult din numărul de aur pentru ca cel mai adevărat să fie în același timp și cel mai frumos. Mozart nu intră în nedesăvârșit, ci în nedesăvârșibil; altă lume pentru altă artă; Deschisul. Recviemul este pragul unei cu totul alte inițieri decât aceea, foarte comună, care dintr-un ucenic face un maestru. Rilke a spus-o: “Cumplit e orișice înger.” Acestui mesager pe care-l evocă legenda trebuie să i se redea numele, etimologic și totodată rilkian: Îngerul. 

Recviemul nu se termină, iar Mozart se împlinește. Astfel, și asta purta în el: o izbândă a finisării și izbânda contrară; omul care se simte în largul său în trestia lui finită și omul demn în același timp de Dumnezeu, cum spune Pascal, sau demn de infinit, cum arată Mozart. Ritmul nebunesc, halucinant din Dies irae nu ar putea fi decât al lui Mozart, dar nu seamănă cu nimic din ce-a făcut Mozart, deși spaimele din Idomeneo și angoasele din Don Giovanni au pregătit pentru asta; și clarinete, oboaie și chiar corni, Mozart ni le-a făcut de neuitat în aceste aparteuri sau aceste dialoguri care sunt întreaga viață a concertelor sale. Dar acest sunet brusc, pur și care umple spațiul, ne trimite în același timp la elementar și la final, și, pentru a ne apăra de acest lucru, recurgerea la forme nu înseamnă nimic. Nu știu dacă marea suferință ne face mai buni, spune Nietzsche, dar sunt sigur că ne face mai profunzi. Chiar în clipa când se aude acest sunet care e stupoare (și chiar Mozartea, de îndată, stupebit), iată-l pe Mozart fără moștenire; și muzica a sfârșit-o cu Vechiul său Regim; un nou testament nu se scrie, iar cel vechi e perimat; există Arcadii unde nu vom mai dormi. Ce contează că Mozart nu a terminat? Cu totul altceva îi spune, ne spune Recviemul lui: Ascultați-mă altfel; folosiți acele urechi pe care le-a deschis în voi acest sunet teribil; și-l veți auzi cu totul altfel chiar și pe Mozart cel considerat cunoscut și desăvârșit; aceeași lume de dincolo, ascultați-o în prezent în Cosi fan tutte și adierile sale, în cvintete; acest sunet teribil, învățați să ascultați cât a costat ca să faci din el o melodie și o vrajă care ne surâd în Contesă, în Cherubino; ascultați-o pe Barbarina pe înserate, care n-a făcut decât să piardă un ac și al cărei suflet plânge. Mi-am pus jos pana, dar mi-am lansat săgeata și mă aveți pentru totdeauna în inimă, statornic și amical, Înger eu însumi. 

Miracolul lui Mozart: muzica sa se topește pur și simplu în sufletele noastre, dar și în simțurile noastre, mai întâi; în mod imperceptibil sensibilă (și chiar senzuală) și spirituală; astfel ne amintim că de la simțuri la suflet drumul nu e așa de lung, nici interdicția atât de severă. Doar Mozart, de la greci încoace, ne spune: Simțurile nu-ți sunt blestemate, sufletul nu ți se află în exil. Voce pentru sufletul cel mai rezervat, Mozart e înainte de orice binecuvântare, acest frison resimțit pe piele; concret și celest; bun-venit celui sociabil ca și celui solitar; sociabil pentru cel solitar. O, Înger! 

Averi i-au alunecat printre degete, funcțiile pe care le merită de o sută de ori ajung la alții – astfel el rămâne ca și noi: un om strâmtorat. Ni-l imaginăm pe Mozart înstărit? Căpătuit? Proprietar? Sau încărcat de ani și de onoruri și un tânăr spunându-i: tată, cum i-a spus el lui Haydn. El n-a venit pe lume ca să se îmbogățească pe sine, ci pe noi. Dacă se supără, întrerupându-se din cântat pentru că nimeni nu-l ascultă, e din cauză că nu trebuie risipită apa pură într-o lume care piere de sete. El nu este acest tânăr Iosif pe care Thomas Mann ni-l arată sub clar de lună felicitându-se pentru alegerea sa. Din copilărie se pregătește să fie Iosif, tatăl adoptiv, cel care va avea grijă de dezmoșteniții ce vor veni și acumulează, timp de șapte ani bogați, o adevărată comoară muzicală. 

N-a trebuit decât să cânte, ne spune Richard Strauss, iar sufletul omenesc, al cărui mister îl duce la disperare pe filozof, s-a arătat. Ideea de sunet a devenit sunet, ideea de perfecțiune, perfecțiune. Mozart a venit, iar noi știm ce este sufletul. Aflat departe din străfundul timpurilor, acesta a reușit aspirația milenară de a fi propriu-i trup. Favoare acordată nouă: această mediere cerească, pentru a se împlini, a ales muzica! Un sculptor ar fi transpus-o în marmură; am fi crezut în veșnicia ei, în loc să învățăm din surâsul frumos al muzicii, în acea clipă, să dorim veșnicia pe care o reflectă. Astfel supranaturalul a încercat naturalul, pentru a putea locui printre noi. Mozart a parcurs drumul și ne lasă muzica.” 

Andre Tubeuf : Mozart, chemins et chants 

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6 Decembrie 1791

mozarts-memorial-in-sankt-marx-cemetery-vienna-january-2016

“Actele de divorț dintre lume și
geniu au fost depuse
în groapa comună a cimitirului
din Viena
unde, spre gloria ei, lumea
l-a aruncat pe Mozart
sub varul septic
al uitării din urmă.
Și de atunci scena
se tot repetă.

Scriind pentru lume a sfârșit
prin a scrie
pentru îngeri.
Ca să înspăimânți
mediocritatea
e destul să
rostești: “Mozart!”

Între dionisiac
și apolinic, Flautul
și Recviemul,
ultimul fruct
depus în coșul
culegătorului.
Viața alege
dintotdeauna
parfumul
opusului ei.
Raiul îndoliat
la care bate Mozart
tânăr
ținând în
mâna sa de dantele
tremurânde
ultima Operă.

A sosit noaptea,
Mozart…”

Claudiu Iordache
Volumul de poezie “Nervurile transparenței”, 2012

a-white-rose-on-the-stone-of-mozarts-memorial-in-sankt-marx-cemetery-vienna-january-2016

Lacrimosa dies illa
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem.
Amen. 

Requiem aeternam

5 Decembrie 1791

sankt-marx-cemetery-vienna-january-2016

“Este 5 decembrie. De 225 de ani omenirea așteaptă să te întorci. Muzica ta a supraviețuit și va supraviețui. Dar ne e dor de inima ta vie, de sufletul luminat de un sentiment dumnezeiesc al armoniei! Căci ai fost darul Lui, și puțini dintre noi au înțeles…

Tu, Mozart, sfâșietoare lumină a întunericului ce ne înconjoară! În parcul tău cernit frunzele iernii îți șoptesc numele. Este 5 decembrie. O liniște senină care a înnoptat pe cer până când lumea a aflat cu disperare că te-a pierdut pentru totdeauna! Dacă am putea învia prin dragostea noastră ființa ta fragilă, pentru a ne surâde din nou, o, Mozart care dormi regal în sufletul nostru! Dacă ne-ai putea auzi durerea de a te ști chemat pentru totdeauna acolo unde numai îngerii te mai ascultă, înfiorați! O, Mozart, e noapte, deplina noapte înaltă într-o zi de 5 decembrie! Zi în care și tu și noi am murit puțin…

Mozart… Mozart… Mozart… ecou ceresc al fiului omenirii…”

Claudiu Iordache 

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Als Luise… on a 27 January 2016 in the Tanzmeistersaal

“the 26th.
A Song – Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte”
It is Mozart’s entry in his hand-written Catalogue of Works, on a 26th of May 1787. 

On the score, in his handwriting: “The 26th of May 1787 Landstrasse”, on the top left-hand corner of the first page – in the top right-hand corner he signed with “W.A. Mozart / in Herr Gottfried von Jacquin’s room”. 

Happiness is… to hear your own mezzo voice singing ‘Als Luise’ in the Tanzmeistersaal, on a 27 January 2016… ❤ 

Salzburg 131 - Happiness is... to hear your own mezzo voice singing 'Als Luise' in the Tanzmeistersaal, Mozart Wohnhaus, on a 27 January

Erzeugt von heisser Phantasie…  

Salzburg 132 - Happiness is... to hear your own mezzo voice singing 'Als Luise' in the Tanzmeistersaal, Mozart Wohnhaus, on a 27 January

Erzeugt von heißer Phantasie,
In einer schwärmerischen Stunde
Zur Welt gebrachte! Geht zu Grunde!
Ihr Kinder der Melancholie!

Ihr danket Flammen euer Sein,
Ich geb’ euch nun den Flammen wieder,
Und all’ die schwärmerischen Lieder;
Denn ach! – er sang nicht mir allein.

Ihr brennet nun, und bald, ihr Lieben,
Ist keine Spur von euch mehr hier:
Doch ach! der Mann, der euch geschrieben,
Brennt lange noch vielleicht in mir.

(Gabriele von Baumberg)

Conceived of fervent fantasy,
Brought into the world
in an hour of rapture! Perish!
You, children of melancholy!

You owe to passion’s flames your being:
To the flames I now return you
with all the songs of ecstasy,
for alas! not to me alone he sang them.

You burn now, and soon, my loves,
no trace of you will remain:
but alas! the man who wrote you
may long still burn within me. 

“Mozart allowed himself to be inspired by poems he came across by chance or to which friends drew his attention or which seemed appropriate for a particular occasion. Thje text of the song ‘Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte’ beginning with the words ‘Erzeugt von heisser Phantasie’ is by Gabriele von Baumberg (1766-1839). who was regarded as the ‘Sappho of Vienna’ and as the most importaant Austrian poetess of her time. She frequented the circle surrounding the author Karoline Pichler (1769-1843) who also knew Jacquin and Mozart. Pichler refers to Baumberg’s poems as a ‘beautiful legacy left to her fatherland and one would only wish that they were better known and more vivid in the memory of today’s world, as they deserve.’ Gabriele von Baumberg’s poetry, which was published in Blumauer-Ratschky’s ‘Almanac of the Muses’ as early as 1786, has, in Mozart’s setting, achieved immortality.”

Johanna Senigl, Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg (translated by Elizabeth Mortimer) – W.A. MOZART ‘Als Luise’, Faksimile mit Edition

The facsimile of ‘Als Luise’, © Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg

http://www.mozarthaus.biz/en/227-faksimile-lied-kv-520-als-luise-die-briefe-mit-dreisprachiger-einf%C3%BChrung-auf-dt-en-fr.html

9 March 1785: the Majestic C Major Piano Concerto

“the 9th of March

A Piano concerto. Accompaniment: 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 flute, 2 oboes. 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 clarinets, timpani and bass.”

It is the entry in Mozart’s hand-written catalogue of works, anouncing the splendid Piano Concerto in C Major, no 21, K.467! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 3

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 2

On the 10th of March 1785, less than one month after the premiere of the stormy, moving, dramatic D minor, Mozart was presenting another piano concerto to the Viennese audience: calm, brilliant, full of light and joy, majestic in its great beauty! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto in C Major, No 21, K.467

As with the Piano Concerto in D minor, the C Major Piano Concerto was composed for the series of Lenten subscription concerts that Mozart was giving in 1785. Leopold Mozart, who had come to visit his son just in time to witness the premiere of Mozart’s sublime D minor Piano Concerto, would write to Nannerl: “We never get to bed before one o’clock and I never get up before nine. We lunch at two or half past. The weather is terrible. Every day there are concerts; and the whole time is given up to teaching music, composing and so forth. I feel rather out of it. If only all the concerts were over! It is impossible for me to describe the rush and bustle. Since my arrival your brother’s fortepiano has been taken at least a dozen times to the theater or to some other house…” Father and son went out together, to eat of attend musical or social events, or received friends in Mozart’s apartment, where they would spend hours making music; in the same time the composer went on with the lessons with his pupils, took part in various public and private concerts and, above all, composed!

Mozart entered the C Major Piano Concerto in his catalogue on 9 March 1785 (although on the autograph score he writes “in February 1785” – “Concerto di Wolfgango Amadeo Mozart, nel Febraio 1785”), and premiered it on 10 March 1785 at the Burgtheater – The National Court Theater, in a concert for his own benefit.  

Carl Schuetz, 1783 - Wien - Michaeltrakt mit Hoftheater

A handbill for the concert announced that it would include “a new, just finished Fortepiano Concerto”, in addition to Mozart playing improvisations employing “an especially large Fortepiano pedal”.  

Altes Burgtheater 1

On Thursday, March 10, 1785, Kapellmeister Mozart will have the honor of giving in the Imperial and Royal Court Theater a Grand Musical Concert for his own benefit including not only a new, just finished fortepiano concerto to be played by him, but also an especially large fortepiano pedale in improvising will be used. The remaining pieces will be announced by a large poster on the day of the concert.” 

Altes Burgtheater 3

A letter from Johann Samuel Liedemann, a merchant in Vienna, from 18 February 1785, states that “…the Fortepiano maker Walther had augmented his Fortepiano with a Pedal. Mozart played the instrument and it produced a wonderful effect” (he is referring to the premiere of the D minor Piano Concerto of 11 February 1785). Leopold’s letter to Nannerl and the announcement for the Burgtheater concert of March 10 indicate Mozart also played the C Major Piano Concerto  on a piano which had a special pedal attachment: “He has had a large fortepiano pedal made, which stands under the instrument and is about two feet longer and extremely heavy”. The success of the concert and the receipts of 559 florins were reported by Leopold with satisfaction and pride to his daughter, in the letter of 12 March 1785.   

“This concerto followed the last at four weeks interval. Between the two there is absolute contrast. On one hand, passion, conflict, storm of the spirit; on the other, calm and majesty. We have already noted how, more than once, Mozart produces, one after the other, two first-rate works of highly contrasted inspiration: the autumn before, with the concerto in B flat, K.456, and the sonata in C minor; in 1786, with the concertos in A and C minor; and again in 1787 and 1788 with the quintets and symphonies in G minor and C. We said that it was but one manifestation of his very mobile nature, ready to leap without transition from one aspect of reality to another, from one mood to its opposite. Sometimes the sorrowful work precedes the joyful one; sometimes the contrary. In February and March, 1785, the order is optimistic: the song of peace comes after the tempest; the luminous C major exorcises the sombre and daimonisch D minor. Nevertheless, the concerto in C is not a blithe work; it is powerful and motionless rather than joyful, and in its immobility we recognize, albeit frozen, the billows of the D minor. (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Allegro page 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Allegro page 2

The C Major’s first movement, the ‘Allegro’, is (not in the autograph but in all editions), “Maestoso” in its design and essence! The second movement, ‘Andante’, breathtakingly beautiful! The last movement, ‘Allegro vivace assai’, light, airy, wonderful! On the 10th of March, 1785, at the Burgtheater, could this have been the sound that the musicians and audience delighted in? 

“The first movement is headed maestoso, a mark which should be observed and not replaced in practice by brillante, as is done by some musicians who consider they know what Mozart wanted better than Mozart himself. But the first subject, as we hear it in the first eleven bars, belies this indication. It is a march like so many first subjects in concertos of the period, but a tiptoed march, in stocking feet, and even when woodwind, brass and drums interrupt the stringgs, it does not rise above piano. It is almost a comedy motif and we should not be surprised to see Leporello emerge from it. But this impression is soon rectified. Conforming to the plan of the quiet beginning followed by a forte, Mozart repeats the theme with all the resources of his orchestra, modulates at once with unusual freedom and, passing quickly through A minor and C minor, settles a while in G major on a tonic pedal. (…) After giving out these two themes, it would seem that the tutti had but to conclude and admit the solo. But this concerto does not act like its predecessors. Instead of a closing figure, the march begins again, first in imitations in the strings, piano, then, when all the orchestra has joined in, forte, and the music launches forth into a working-out whose progress, led with a steady step and insistent in its regularity, reminds us of the straining and pitiless vigour of the D minor. There is no modulating; everything comes down, in the last resort, to rises and falls of one octave, repeated several times, without haste, now with the whole orchestra, now antiphonally, with strings and woodwind. Such calm perseverance is irresistible; its strength is in its mass, not in its fire or speed (on condition, once again, that the movement is taken at a moderate speed and even heavily, maestoso, and not brillante. Played swiftly and lightly, this passage becomes a kind of breathless race that keeps on coming back to its starting-point, which is nonsense); the music looks neither right nor left; its progress is due to singleness of will. No passage demonstrates better than this both the kinship and the ontrast which unite and separate the twin concertos; in one, vehemence and wrath; in the other, self-assurance; in both, a will firm and inexorable.”  (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

“In neither of Mozart’s earlier works do we find the contrapuntal potential of the opening so fully realized on the larger structural level as it is in K.567, where various polyphonic settings of the opening theme produce some of the main structural blocks of the ritornello. (…) Charles Rosen has described K.467 as “Mozart’s first true essay in orchestral grandeur” and has commented on the block-like nature of its construction…”  

And the ‘Andante’ that follows… Mozart’s fragile, beautiful soul, transfigured into Music! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Andante page 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Andante page 2

“The world of the andante is that of the “dream” andantes, a family which comprises some of Mozart’s most beautiful slow movements in earlier years and in the long successions of which it is the last; but its form is unique. It is a piano cantilena preceded by a tutti prelude and sumptuously sustained and adorned by the murmur of the strings and the multi-coloured raiment of the wind. The tune winds from key to key, smooth and closely blended; it passes through various moods, some dreamy, some full of anguish, some serene, but the themes hardly stand out; it is a river, moving slowly but unceasingly, and only from time to time does an eddy in the current announce a freshy subject. Yet it is not a fantasia. There is directions and progress in its emotion and its form. The stream advances, turns back, passes on again, and though its structure be free, it is never loose. (…) And all the time it never stops singing; one feels that its chief contribution here is its tone colour, the pale, delicate colour of the 1780 piano, whose beauty Mozart never set forth more felicitously than in this nocturne. We say, nocturne, and in truth the rapprochement with Chopin can hardly be avoided. he hazy atmosphere of the mutes, the quivering calm of the ceaseless triplets, the slow, sustained song of the piano—more than all this, the veiled and sorrowfully passionate soul which this music expresses with such immediacy, do we not find them in the work of Chopin and especially in those nocturnes of which the “dream” of Mozart’s reminds us? This Andante, so placid at first hearing, betrays on further acquaintance an agitated mood. Its perpetual instability, to which its constant modulating and its unsatisfied quest for new places bears witness; its morbid disquiet, thinly concealed now and again under an appearance of calm, breaking forth with heart-rending pathos in the chromaticisms and the discreet yet pungent hues of ex.270 are unquestionably fundamental elements of Mozart’s nature, but they are elements which he shares with Chopin.” (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

To our ears, to our heart, the ‘Andante’ of Mozart’s C Major Piano Concerto no 21 is perfect beauty as it is: a ‘simple’ melody that moves us to tears whenever we listen to it. We don’t even want to imagine it changed in any way – and the only way in which we would probably accept it changed would be to listen to Mozart himself playing it. Philipp Karl, an amateur-musician who had heard Mozart perform two of his piano concertos in Frankurt, in October 1790, later reported that when Mozart played the slow movements of his piano concertos he embellished them “tenderly and tastefully once one way, once differently, following the momentary inspiration of his genius”. In 1803 Phillip Karl published embellished versions of six Mozart piano concerto slow movements (K.467, K.482, K.488, K.491, K.503 and K.595), presumably inspired by his contact with Mozart, but not imitative of the composer’s own improvisations.” 

“The andante occupies a world apart, a sonic dream world evoked by the magical effect of muted and pizzicato strings. It offers moments of sublime beauty and ends in a state of bliss, but its surface serenity cannot conceal the turmoil that lies beneath. At every turn there is a poignant reminder that happiness is transient, its promise easily revoked. And the escape to a dream world is consummated only in the imagination.” (David Grayson)  

Anton Muller - Altes Burgtheater

Altes Burgtheater 2

How might that evening of 10 March 1785 have looked like? Here’s what David Grayson tells us in his book “Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21”:

“Iconographic evidence suggests that in “halls” like the Mehlgrube the players would probably have occupied a low platform situated not at  the end of the room, but against one of the long walls. The seating plan for K.466 would probably have been similar to the one recommended in 1802 by the piano-maker and Mozart pupil Nannette Stein Streicher:

“In performing concertos, especially Mozart’s, one should move the fortepiano several feet nearer (the audience) than the orchestra is. Directly behind the piano leave just the violins. The bass-line and wind instruments should be further back, the latter more than the former.”

Adalbert Gyrowetz, one of whose symphonies was programmed in Mozart’s Mehlgrube series, noted in his presumed autobiography that Mozart had hired a “full theater orchestra” for these concerts.  This was most likely the orchestra of the Burgtheater, where, four days later, on 15 February 1785, Mozart again played the D-minor Piano Concerto, in a concert given by the singer Elisabeth Distler.

The Burgtheater, representing the third category of concert venue, was also the site of the premiere of the Piano Concerto in C, K.467, less than a month later, on 10 March 1785. Located on the Michaelerplatz, the Burgtheater was built in 1741 and renovated numerous times before its closing in 1888. Plans reflecting the state of the building during the 1780s show an oval-shaped house, with seating on the floor divided into two sections, ostensibly according to the social rank of the spectators: the Noble Parquet in front, and behind it the slightly elevated Second Parquet, with rows of benches and standing rooms at the rear. (Social segregation was not complete, however, as individuals connected to the theater, including composers and performers, could obtain passes granting admission to the Noble Parquet.) Four balconies surrounded the floor. The lower two held the boxes rented on an annual basis by the nobility, plus, in the first tier, one box overlooking the stage, reserved for the director, and three “Imperial loges” (one in the center and two on the right) overlooking the orchestra, which occupied the floor at the front of the stage. The upper two balconies were galleries with benches and standing room. When jam-packed, the Burgtheater may have accomodated as many as 1800 spectators, but most estimates of the audience capacity are much lower, ranging from around 1000 to 1350.

According to a Vienna theater almanac of 1782, the Burgtheater orchestra comprised 35 players: six first and six second violins, four violas, three cellos, three basses, pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets, and one timpanist. Assuming that these figures are also reliable for 1785, that the full theater orchestra participated in Mozart’s concerts in both the Burgtheater and the Mehlgrube, and that the entire ensemble was used for the concerto accompaniments, we can conclude that the orchestra for the first performances of K.466 and 467 consisted of around 32 players (one of the flutes and the two clarinets not being needed). (…) 

Richard Maunder has speculated that, when Mozart performed his piano concertos in the theater, the orchestra may hav been in the pit, while he alone occupied the stage. Putting the soloist in this privileged position, Maunder reasoned, would have helped solve potential balance problems between the fortepiano and the orchestra, whose players would have been seated facing the stage, with their backs to the audience. Such a “theatrical staging” of the concerto moreover made manifest the genre’s affinity with the operatic aria. Daniel Heartz, however, has offered evidence that it was customary for Lenten concert and oratorio performances at the Burgtheater to follow the Italian practice and have all of the musicians on stage: the orchestra, soloists and chorus. He speculated, though, that the arrangement described by maunder might have been a practical necessity at other times of year, when theater rehearsals and stage sets might have made it difficult to rearrange the stage for an orchestra. Mary Sue Morrow has challenged this reasoning, arguing that rehearsals were often held elsewhere and that the theater’s repertory system would have required that the sets be struck after each performance anyway. Maunder’s theory seems unlikely from a purely logistical point of view, given th mixed nature of Mozart’s typical concert programs. For example, his concert of 23 march 1782 at the Burgtheater began and ended with movements of the “Haffner” Symphony, with arias, concertos, concertante movements, and solo piano works interspersed in between. It would have seeed odd for the orchestra to start the program on stage, then repair to the pit, only to re-ascend at the end of the concert for the “haffner” finale. Even odder would have been for the orchestra to remain in the pit throughout, leaving the audience to face an empty stage at the start and conclusion of the evening. For performances of Mozart’s concertos in the theater, then, we may imagine all of the performers on stage, arranged according to the seating plan recommended above by nannette Stein Stricher.” (David Grayson – Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21 – “Performance practice issues”) 

A look at the Burgtheater through time – that Burgtheater where Mozart premiered his piano concertos and operas: 

Wien - Die k.k. Reitschule und das National-Hoftheater 1829

Michaelerplatz 1, Kuppel - Spanische Winterreitschule

August Gerasch - Vor dem alten Burgtheater

Rudolf Schima - Das Alte Burgtheater. Aquarell (1880)

Carl Wenzel Zajicek -Das alte Burgtheater, 1860

Das alte Burgtheater Aquarell auf Papier signiert und datiert 1912 - Carl Wenzel Zajicek

Altes Burgtheater, Michaelerplatz - The old Burgtheater (before 1888)

Das alte Burgtheater und die Hofreitschule am Michaelerplatz

In 1888 the “old” Burgtheater was demolished, and a new building with the same name was built on the Ringstrasse: the new Burgtheater. The theater where Mozart premiered his masterpieces had to make space for… space… Almost all the places where he had lived and composed were torn down without the smallest thought that those were not just buildings, they were places of history which should have been preserved with love and respect. Instead of them we now have super-stores, or… more space… 

At least his music has survived! 

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