HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOZART!
CLASSICAL TV'S LIBRARY of great performing arts videos contains a bounty of memorable performances of Mozart's music. He was born on January 27, 1756. Here's a birthday selection, presented in his honor:
Watch Friedrich Gulda, one of the leading Mozart interpreters of his day, perform an all-Mozart concert as part of the Mostly Mozart festival.
From the famous Salzburg conservatoire, the Mozarteum, Horst Stein conducts the Dresden Staatskapelle in an all-Mozart program with soloists Kurt Nikkanen, violin, and Ruth Ziesak, soprano. This live concert recording features the Symphony No. 20 in D major, K. 133, Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216; two concert arias for solo voice and orchestra, "Bella mia fiamma," K. 528 and "Vado, ma dove," K. 583; and Symphony No. 36 in C major ("Linz"), K. 425.
The highlight of the Mozart Year 2006 in Prague takes place at the Estates Theatre. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Manfred Honeck perform the most famous compositions by W.A. Mozart related to Prague: Overture to Don Giovanni, Prague Symphony and the Clarinet Concerto with the excellent Sharon Kam on the clarinet. The Estates Theatre is one of the most beautiful historical theatres in Europe. Part of its charm, magic and value lies in its historical significance, from the musical career of Mozart to modern times. In 1787 Mozart conducted the premier of Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre; La Clemenza di Tito also had its premiere there.
From the beautiful Baroque palace in Rammenau, Saxony: the Gewandhaus Quartet performs four of the master’s greatest quartets: Nos. 14, 19 (“Dissonant”), and 21, plus the Serenade, K. 525 (“Ein Kleine Nachtmusik”)
Widely regarded as Benny Goodman's successor, clarinetist Daniels is a master of both jazz and classical technique. Performing with the Munich Symphony Orchestra, he plays Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, with a jazz improvisation encore.
Nicolas Economou's renowned interpretation of Mozart is demonstrated in this sensitive performance, recorded at the Kongressaal, Munich.
In this live concert recording from the Munich Philharmonie, Friedrich Gulda conducts the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the soloist for dynamic and lively performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, and the Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major, K. 537 ("Coronation").
Cecilia Bartoli made her debut as Fiordiligi at the Zurich Opera in this Jurgen Flimm production. Flimm's cast is completed by Oliver Widmer, Roberto Sacca, Carlos Chausson and Agnes Baltsa. (With English subtitles)
An imaginative series of short films by well-known filmmakers and contemporary composers interpreting Mozart’s music and cultural resonance. Included are “M is for Man, Music, Mozart," by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen and Peter Greenaway, set in a grisly sixteenth-century anatomy theater; “Letters, Riddles, Writs,” by Michael Nyman, Jeremy Newson, and graphic artist Pat Gavin, exploring the oppressive relationship between Mozart and his father (with Ute Lemper as Mozart!); and four more.
MOZART OVER TIME
THE ROSTER OF classical composers is rife with child prodigies, but none as prodigious as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In early childhood, on a commercial tour with his father Leopold, Mozart astounded the courts of Europe with his feats of musicality. But what followed was even more remarkable: three decades of prolific musical composition during which his blazing precocity never abated. Symphonies and operas he created as a teenager seem to reflect facility honed over a lifetime. The first of his innumerable masterpieces? Opinions vary. Perhaps his ninth piano concerto, written when he was 17.
Succeeding generations have reconsidered Mozart in stages, the way most listeners discover him. First we hear the divine child with his uncanny knack for divinely beautiful melodies; then the impossibly sophisticated technician, who made complexity sound simple and pushed symphonic, chamber and operatic forms to new levels; then the profound, sublime Mozart of the late operas, late symphonies and the requiem, whose music lays bare the human soul. In 1791, the last year of his life, the 35-year-old Mozart sustained a level of inspiration perhaps without parallel in cultural history, and he showed no signs of slowing down. What if he had lived another 35 years?
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Seven Things You May Not Have Known About Mozart's Life
1. Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart gave birth to Wolfgang Amadeus in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria; Mozart's sister, Maria Anna "Nannerl," five years older, was also a musical child star, touring Europe with her father and brother.
2. Mozart revealed prodigious musical instincts, even at age three; as Nannerl recalled, "He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was always striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good."
3. Who knew Mozart was a pioneer of music piracy? At age twelve, Mozart toured Italy with his father, attending a Sistine Chapel performance of Gregorio Allegri's Miserere; later that evening, Mozart wrote out the tightly-guarded piece from memory.
4. Nothing wrong with a little healthy ego: Under the employment of Prince Archbishop Calloredo in Vienna, Mozart declared his modest salary and performance restrictions unacceptable and resigned; not to be outdone, the Archbishop refused the resignation, then later terminated the relationship himself "with a kick in the ass."
5. Fresh off the Colloredo rumpus, Mozart lodged with the Weber family, whose daughter Constanze captured Mozart's interest; Mozart married Constanze Weber in 1782, with only "grudging consent" from his father; the couple had six kids.
6. Mozart died in December, 1791; he was not quite 36. Some believe Mozart died of rheumatic fever; some believe rival Antonio Salieri murdered him; recently, some researchers have proposed Mozart died of strep throat.
7. Mozart is buried just outside of Vienna, although the exact location of his remains is unknown.