180 Days With Mozart And Me

A Survey Of The Philips Complete Mozart Edition…From Symphonies Through Theatre And Ballet Music

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Of the End (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 8th, 2010 · Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, K299c, K446, KApp10, Mozart at 22, Mozart at 27, Sir Neville Marriner

Theatre and Ballet MusicThis is the last of the CDs in the Philips Compact Complete Mozart Edition boxed set.

It is also the last post I’ll make to this web site.

It’s been fun.

I’m glad today’s CD was performed entirely by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. That’s a perfect way to end my listening, for there’s no orchestra or conductor I respect and enjoy more.

And I enjoyed these songs. All are bright, sprightly, well written and very well performed. This is the best CD in Box 17.

Here is what I listened to today, complete with the best [Read more →]

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Of Ends Approaching and Musics Unliked (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 7th, 2010 · Ballet music from Idomeneo, Bernhard Klee, Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, David Zinman, Eberhard Buchner, Gisela Pohl, Hermann Christian Polster, K345, K367, Karin Eickstaedt, Mozart at 17, Mozart at 21, Mozart at 23, Mozart at 25, Munich (January 1781), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Rundfunk-Solistenvereinigung Berlin, Staatskapelle Berlin, Thamos King of Egypt, Thamos Konig in Agypten, Theo Adam

Theatre and Ballet MusicToday is the second to the last CD from my six-month journey through Mozart’s music.

In all honesty, I’m going to be glad to see it end. These posts occupied 2-4 hours of my life every morning. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. But always there, every day. Rain or shine.

Yet, another part of me will be sad about wrapping things up tomorrow. I’ve learned a lot listening to Mozart. I gained an education in Classical music comparable to learning a foreign language by immersion.

But I’ll save my final comments for tomorrow, June 8th. That day marks not only the end of my study of Mozart’s music, but also an entire year’s worth of new discoveries.

Stay tuned.

Today’s CD is [

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Of Wrong-Gig Drummers and Musical-Dice Games (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 6th, 2010 · Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, deest, deest (definition), Erik Smith, Musical Dice-game, Musikalisches Würfelspiel, Odds and Ends

Theatre and Ballet MusicToday has been a day of discovering quirky music.

A friend on my Facebook page posted a link to a YouTube clip titled “This drummer is at the wrong gig.”

I watched it and nearly fell off my chair laughing.

If you’re familiar with Animal from the Muppets, you’ll recognize this guy. He keeps perfect time. But I don’t see how given his antics. Take a look:

Obviously, this YouTube clip of the wild drummer has nothing to do with Mozart. However, there is a connection to a song on today’s CD – they’re both strange discoveries of mine. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Today’s Mozart CD contains terrific music that has more in common with sketches in DaVinci’s notebook than to symphonies in Mozart’s repertoire.

Two of the pieces, Track 7 (“Modulierendes Präludium,” K.deest ) and Track 9 (March to “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”, K.deest) are deest compositions, which means they are likely spurious, not part of Mozart’s canon, not written by Mozart. The former is a very short piece for harpsichord. The latter is a delightful little march.

Three of the compositions, Track 5 (Tantum ergo in D, K.197/Anh. C 3.05), Track 6 (Tantum ergo in B flat, K.142/Anh. C 3.04), and Track 8 (Non più, tutto ascoltai – Non temer, amato bene, K.490 – for “Idomeneo”, K.366/Version for mezzo-soprano) feature vocals. Track 5 is a choir. Track 6 is a choir with a soprano soloist. Track 8 is a mezzo-soprano soloist.

The most bizarre track I’ve yet heard any any of Mozart’s pieces is [Read more →]

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Of Operas Sans Vocals (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 5th, 2010 · Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail, Don Giovanni, K384 (instrumentals), K527 (instrumentals), Mozart at 26, Mozart at 31, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Prague (October 28 1787), Vienna (May 29 1782)

Theatre and Ballet MusicNow this is refreshing: Mozart’s operas without the vocals.

Since the music was usually my favorite part of Mozart’s operas, I enjoy listening to this CD.


Don Giovanni (Tracks 1-13) is boring even without the vocals. The music just doesn’t move me.

Of much more interest to me is the music from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Tracks 14-21). It’s more intricate, sprightlier, and less ponderous than Don Giovanni. I can listen to these tracks as stand-alone compositions, and enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed any of Mozart’s instrumental works.

The music on this CD is performed by [Read more →]

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Of Beginnings and Endings (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 4th, 2010 · Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, K15 (various), K33, Kochel catalogue, London (1764-5), London Sketchbook, Mozart at 8, Mozart at 9, Sir Neville Marriner

Theatre and Ballet MusicI just opened the last box of CDs, box 17 Theatre and Ballet Music * Rarities * Surprises.

I’ve been listening to Mozart non-stop for a few days shy of six months. This box of CDs represents the final five days in my journey.

And a fitting end it’ll be, too. We’re back to instrumental music!

But not just instrumental music. Snippets of music. Fragments, really.

According to the Köchel catalogue, the music on this CD is referred to as Mozart’s “London Sketchbook,” 43 short pieces of music Mozart jotted down while living in London circa 1764-5 when he was eight or nine.

Theatre and Ballet MusicDespite the unfinished nature of these compositions, even given Mozart’s young age, I find these snippets to be fun, compelling, and surprisingly realized.

Two more pluses: (1) They’re performed by The Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields and conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, and (2) No vocals!

Here is what I listened to today, complete with the best guesses of scholars regarding where and when each composition was penned. This information was pieced together from The Compactothèque book + CD, which is an essential purchase if you want the fullest enjoyment from the Philips Complete Mozart Edition. It’s only about [Read more →]

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Of Staring Tykes and Tarnished Flutes (German Operas, Box 16)

June 3rd, 2010 · Box 16: German Operas, Die Zauberflote, Die Zauberflote (Part III), K620, K620 (Part III), Magic Flute, Mozart at 35, Panera Bread, Vienna (September 29 1791)

German OperasAs I sit here at Panera Bread, there’s a baby girl sitting in a high chair staring at me. She’s with her mom, of course. Babies don’t drive.

Mom is reading the latest book from Donald Miller (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life).

Since her daughter can’t read, she has nothing to do but look around. And stare at me.

So she does.

Her mom just gave her a Motorola Razr phone to play with. Probably not a good idea. But it keeps the little tyke somewhat occupied with the beeping and flashing lights (and the sound of the Razr hitting the floor).

They just left. Now there’s someone else sitting in the chair, texting on her phone, while a laptop rests on her folded legs. Now that’s [Read more →]

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Of Glen/Glenda and Magic/Flute (German Operas, Box 16)

June 2nd, 2010 · Box 16: German Operas, Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, Die Zauberflote, Ed Wood, Glen or Glenda?, K620, K620 (Part II), Luciana Serra, Magic Flute, Magic Flute (Part II), Mozart at 35

German OperasToday, we watched the Ed Wood movie Glen or Glenda?.

I’m speechless. All I can say is that it lives up to its billing as one of the worst movies ever made. I realize director/writer Ed Wood was a transvestite in real life. But if he thought his movie would earn sympathy or empathy for his cause, he was sadly mistaken.

On to today’s music…

Part two of Die Zauberflote, K620, (also known – especially to those who don’t speak German – as The Magic Flute) contains one of my all-time favorite songs from an opera: “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” performed by the incomparable Luciana Serra. I had no idea the human voice could reach such notes.

The rest of the opera is terrific. But I’ve been waiting to hear [Read more →]

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Of Night Queens and Magic Flutes (German Operas, Box 16)

June 1st, 2010 · Ann Murray, Armin Ude, Box 16: German Operas, Die Zauberflote, Dritte Dame, Dritter Knabe, Ein altes Weit, Erste Dame, Erster geharnischter Mann, Erster Knabe, Frank Hoher, Friedemann Klos, Hanna Schwarz, Heinz Reeh, K620, K620 (Part I), Konigin der Nacht, Kurt Moll, Luciana Serra, Magic Flute, Magic Flute (Part I), Margaret Price, Maria Venuti, Marie McLaughlin, Maynard Solomon, Michael Diedrich, Mikael Melbye, Monostatos, Mozart at 35, Mozart: A Life, Pamina, Papageno, Peter Schreier, Queen of the Night, Reiner Goldberg, Robert Tear, Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Sarastro, Singspiel, Sir Colin Davis, Sprecher, Staatskapelle Dresden, Tamino, Theo Adam, Vienna (September 29 1791), Zweite Dame, Zweiter geharnischter Mann, Zweiter Knabe, Zweiter Sprecher

German OperasThis is one of Mozart’s biggies, one of the operas I’ve been waiting to hear.

It’s called Die Zauberflote, K620, also known (especially to those who don’t speak German) as The Magic Flute.

This flute definitely is magical. I like it a lot. Even the Overture is memorable.

I know enough about operas now to know this is a Singspiel, an opera that contains both sung and spoken parts.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about one of Mozart’s best-loved operas:

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, [See? what did I tell you?] a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue.

Premiere and reception
The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted the orchestra, Schikaneder himself played Papageno, while the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer.

On the reception of the opera, Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon writes [on page 487]:

Although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s.

Mozart: A LifeThe success of The Magic Flute lifted the spirits of its composer, who had fallen ill while in Prague a few weeks before. Solomon continues:

Mozart’s delight is reflected in his last three letters, written to Constanze, who with her sister Sophie was spending the second week of October in Baden. “I have this moment returned from the opera, which was as full as ever,” he wrote on 7 October, listing the numbers that had to be encored. “But what always gives me the most pleasure is the silent approval! You can see how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed.” … He went to hear his opera almost every night, taking along [friends and] relatives.

The opera celebrated its 100th performance in November 1792. Mozart did not have the pleasure of witnessing this milestone, having died of his illness on 5 December 1791.

Since its premiere, The Magic Flute has always been one of the most beloved works in the operatic repertoire, and is presently the eighth most frequently performed opera in North America.

Mozart evidently wrote keeping in mind the skills of the singers intended for the premiere, which included both virtuosi and ordinary comic actors, asked to sing for the occasion. Thus, the vocal lines for Papageno and Monostatos are often stated first in the strings so the singer can find his pitch, and are frequently doubled by instruments. In contrast, Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer, who premiered the role of the Queen of the Night, evidently needed little such help: this role is famous for its difficulty. In ensembles, Mozart skillfully combined voices of different ability levels.

A particularly demanding aria is the Queen of the Night’s “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (“The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart”), which reaches a high F6, rare in opera. At the low end, the part of Sarastro includes a conspicuous F in a few locations.

I can vouch for that. One of my all-time favorite songs from an opera is [Read more →]

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Of Sherlock Holmes and Il Seraglio (German Operas, Box 16)

May 30th, 2010 · Billy Wilder, Box 16: German Operas, Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail, K384, K384 (Part II), Mozart at 26, Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, Singspiel, Vienna (May 29 1782)

German OperasTonight, we’re watching another Billy Wilder film – The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

I’ve never seen this particular Wilder film. But I’m hoping it’s as good as some of his other classics, for example: Some Like it Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Double Indemnity, and The Apartment.

As for today’s Mozart opera, it’s another great CD.

I don’t have much to add to my praise for this opera (Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail, K384) that I didn’t say in yesterday’s post.

It’s a Singspiel, which means there are spoken parts (like a play) and sung parts (like an opera).

The music is interesting, the spoken parts are compelling (even though I don’t understand German), and [Read more →]

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Of Christiane Eda-Pierre. Period. (German Operas, Box 16)

May 30th, 2010 · Box 16: German Operas, Christiane Eda-Pierre, Mozart at 24, Vienna (May 29 1782)

German OperasThe recording of this opera has a lot going for it, not least of which is the music is played by The Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. That, automatically, gives it a feel and sound that grabs me. I don’t think I’ve yet heard a recording by the Academy that I didn’t like.

Another plus for this recording: Top-notch tenors and bass singers. Plus, there’s a noticeable melody, a nice flow to the music.

But what sells this music to me is one vocalist, a soprano named Christiane Eda-Pierre. Her voice is Nicolai Gedda good, which is to say absolutely world class. One of the finest the world has to offer. When she sings, my ears perk up. As I was listening to this at Panera Bread this morning, I said, “Wow” out loud as I listened to Track 20 (Introduktion – “Martern aller Arten” – “Doch du bist entschlossen”). Christiane’s voice has a tremendous range and pure tonality. Wow is the only word I have describe what I’m hearing.

As for the opera itself, here’s some background on it from [Read more →]

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