“If we two, he and I, took toys from one room to the other, the one of us with an empty hand had to sing or fiddle a march to it.” In this manner a family friend, the court trumpeter Andreas Schachtner, recalls his time with the six-year-old Mozart
The gramophone recording of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G major, K. 453, featuring Ernst von Dohnányi as soloist and conductor of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, made in 1928 for the Columbia Company, is important in many respects. The Hungarian pianist and composer made little more than a handful of gramophone recordings until the late 1940s. This performance is also the first audio recording ever to be published that contained a Mozart piano concerto (some piano rolls with concertos or extracts did exist beforehand). From the beginning of his career, Dohnányi had been one of the keenest promoters of the Austrian composer’s piano pieces. In the Columbia recording, the performing style of Dohnányi and his orchestra is characteristic of its time, notably because it chooses to use a flexible tempo. In addition, the soloist makes use of rubato and chord dislocation. Nonetheless, the performers are also playing in an intimate conversational tone and they emphasize Mozart’s structural clarity. The execution of themes by the pianist is both poetic and restrained. These traits will define the “mainstream” performing style of Mozart’s piano concertos over most of the twentieth century. An implicit aesthetic standard comes into force in the critical reviews of the Columbia records: Mozart’s piano concertos require lightness and gentleness from the soloist. The elements given prominence to the recording and in the reviews also appear in contemporary musicological literature and in texts on music. Recordings of two additional Mozart piano concertos (K. 271 and K. 503), played live by Dohnányi in the 1950s, display a broadly similar performing style. Over the ten years that followed the Columbia recording, the majority of Mozart’s “great” piano concertos were published on records. This newly found popular interest is connected with a positive re-evaluation of this group of Mozart’s works.
The life and works of Mozart are central to a due understanding of Liszt’s development as pianist, composer, and conductor. Yet, this fact receives inadequate attention in scholarly studies. Liszt readily acknowledged that he ‘owed the greater part of what he was as a musician to Mozart’ and found identity and goal as he sought, as pianist and composer, to emulate the endeavors of the Viennese master. Like Mozart, he was a ‘pioneer of progress’ who refused ‘to be bound by accepted modes of expression.’ Like Mozart, ‘he pushed virtuosity to utmost limits.’ Like Mozart, he was seen by many as an iconic figure of German nationalism. In later life, Liszt took comfort from the fact that Mozart, his illustrious role-model, was not spared bitter experiences. ‘As with every great genius,’ both endured ‘pain and suffering’ in order to accomplish their task. In so many areas of musical activity and experience, Liszt mirrored his great Viennese master. Throughout Liszt’s life, he remained devoted to the scrupulous study and execution of Mozart’s music and played an important part in promoting a better understanding of both man and music via podium and press before, during, and after the Mozart Centenary Celebrations in Vienna in January 1856.
Metastasio, Mozart Pásztorkirályának (Il re pastore) librettistája, Curtius Rufus és Iustinus nyomán írta meg szövegkönyvét - korának és Mária Terézia udvarának kívánalmai szerint - kellő bonyodalmakkal. A Nagy Sándor kegyéből királyi trónra ültetett Aminta nem más, mint az ókori szerzőktől emlegetett Abdalonymus, mitikus keleti hagyományok hordozója, akinek alakját a római annalisztika (Fabius Pictor) az ősrómai eszményeket megtestesítő (kitalált) Cincinnatusszá formálta. Az orientalista W. Fauth nemrég ennek a keleti hagyománynak messze szétágazó dokumentumkincsét tárta fel nagy ívű tanulmányában, amelyből a klasszikus filológus váratlan összefüggéseket állapíthat meg az ókori Kelet uralkodószimbolikájának kozmológiai vonatkozásai és a görög-római kultúra eddig nem magyarázott jelenségei (a paradicsomleírások; Roma quadrata;a római történetírás kialakulásának politikai motívumai stb.) között. A téma kiegészítéséül kínálkozott az osztrák Miksa főherceg (a későbbi császár és király) bécsi vadaskertjének egykorú (XVI. századi) leírása mint az antik paradicsomelképzelések megvalósítási kísérlete az újkori Európában.
The last decade of the eighteenth century was a transitional period in the political as well as the cultural history of Europe. Aesthetic values underwent far-reaching changes everywhere: the field of keyboard music and keyboard performance was no exception. In Vienna, the once legendary performances of W.A. Mozart already seemed out of date for some musicians before the turn of the century. ‘Pearly’ playing gave way to singing legato style, and the occasional use of damper pedals. Of course, the appearance of the young Beethoven made a profound effect on the Viennese piano scene. He competed with four pianists on the keyboard (Gelinek, Wölfl, Steibelt, Vogler) in the course of his first ten years in Vienna: through the contemporary descriptions of these events we can learn a great deal about the current styles of piano playing. The keyboard works of the pianist-composers of the time varied in their style and level of craftsmanship. Textures became denser, and more demanding to play. The general style approached the tone of the early nineteenth century, Schubert’s in particular. Of the younger generation, Hummel was the first who performed on Viennese stages before the end of the century. After 1800, the significant Viennese debut of three young artists, Kalkbrenner, Czerny and Moscheles, initiated a new kind of bravura in pianism, which prepared the era of the instrumental virtuosity of the nineteenth century.
Although a few details about Zmeskall’s legacy were already known, it was only through a new intensive search that his original testament and codicil could be found now (in the Hungarian State Archive Budapest). Partial copies were also located in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, together with further documents concerning the transfer of Zmeskall’s musical estate to this institution after his death in 1833; they help to explain the events surrounding his legacy. Using Zmeskall’s testament and codicil it was also possible to describe the objects he mentioned in his will; these include his scores of own compositions and those of other composers, his writings, and his musical instruments. Some errors in the literature concerning these objects can now be corrected and new hypotheses presented. Completely new information is revealed about Zmeskall’s studies with W. A. Mozart and J. G. Albrechtsberger. The exact wording of the testament and codicial is given in the appendix together with a commentary in footnotes. This study attempts to reconstruct Zmeskall’s complete musical legacy (only part of which has survived today), and is meant to be a symbolic gift for the 250th anniversary of his birthday (on 19 November 1759).
A Viennese manuscript of the first act of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte recently surfaced in Budapest. The title page indicates that it was sold by the actor, singer and theatre copyist, Kaspar Weiß in 1796, and bears the name “Theater auf der Wieden” in Weiß's handwriting. This is the only known score with a clear connection to the theatre for which Mozart composed his singspiel. It was probably based on the theatre's score, which was certainly copied from Mozart's autograph. Upon close investigation the Budapest manuscript reveals a number of deviations from the autograph, variants that suggest something of a performing tradition that may in fact date back to Mozart himself, who conducted the first performances. At least one other Viennese copy of DieZauberflöte exhibits similar peculiarities, indicating a path of transmission that complements the one going back to Constanze Mozart, who sold copies based on the autograph.
In 1809, E. T. A. Hoffmann declared that the symphony, in the hands of Haydn and Mozart, had become the “opera of instruments.” This view of symphony, which was echoed by other writers of the period, reflected how composers engaged with instruments through orchestration. This essay explores the use of instrumental sonority in the slow movements of Haydn’s later symphonies, in particular looking at the ways in which Haydn’s approach to the orchestra helped cultivate the notion that symphonies unfolded as dramas. This conception of the orchestra and of orchestration informed the language of musical criticism of the early nineteenth century: Hoffmann’s discussions of musical works frequently take the form of operatic plot summaries, in which individual instruments act as characters. The persistence of operatic metaphors suggests that, instead of thinking of this period as the “rise of instrumental music,” it is more accurate to understand it as the rise of the orchestra.