If you whistle a tune often enough to a starling, the bird will not only sing it back to you, it will improvise its response and create something new. On May 27, 1784, Mozart whistled a 17 note phrase to a starling in a Viennese shop and to his delight it spat the tune right back — but not without taking some liberties first. So he bought it and brought it home. That bird lived with him for the three most productive years of his life, during which he completed more than 60 compositions, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The piano concerto as we still understand it was built in those rooms. The “Jupiter” Symphony began and Figaro ended. Melodies that two centuries of humans have since whistled could have first been volleyed between a genius and his pet bird.
Enjoy this animated webcomic about Mozart's early exploits... up to age nine, along with those of his sister Nannerl.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Mozart's 40th Symphony. Second movement. Third movement. Fourth movement. The famous chromatic bit at the start of the development of the fourth movement. Program notes written for a performance of the piece by Redwood Symphony. [more inside]
Last week, Improv Everywhere set up the ACJW Ensemble Orchestra (of Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School) in Herald Square in New York City and placed an empty podium in front of the musicians with a sign that read, "Conduct Us." [more inside]
Mozart in Turkey is film made of three distinct, but related, elements. First, it is a look into Mozart at the time of his courting Constanze, a bit on his new patron, the "enlightened monarch" Joseph II, and other influences, including the Turkish music and culture, along with thoughts on Mozart's opera as a work created in the Age of Enlightenment, all through the running commentary by opera director Elijah Moshinsky, who also interviews Alev Lytle Croutier, the author of Harem: The World Behind the Veil. Then there is the production of an opera in Turkey, specifically set in and around the Topkapi Palace (virtual tour; Wikipedia). And the last piece is the performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, or The Abduction from the Seraglio. You can watch the entire film online on Vimeo, thanks to Directors Cut Films.
225 years ago today, in the Teatro di Praga, there premiered a new opera - conducted by the 31 year old composer, who was in demand after his success in Vienna the year before. Although he had completed the overture less than 24 hours earlier, the opera was an instant smash - with the composer being "welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering". In the years to come, Kierkegaard would agree with the French composer Charles Gounod that the opera was "a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection". Flaubert would call it one of "the three finest things God made". Today, it is the 10th most performed opera in the world. It is Mozart's Don Giovanni (spoiler). [more inside]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is well-known for having been a child prodigy. A previously unknown composition of his, dated c. 1767, when he would have been 11 years old, (PDF of score) had it's premiere earlier this week. [more inside]
"We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey..." -from the final three Diaries Of Robert Falcon Scott (p. 166/167) which are now available scanned, transcribed, and narrated in fully searchable form by the British Library.
Other books in the collection include:
- Leonardo Da Vinci's 500+ page Codex Arundel scanned in its entirety.
- William Blake's Notebook with explanatory notes (text & narration).
- Mozart's Musical Diary with explanatory notes (text & narration) and playable musical pieces.
- The original Alice's Adventures Underground scanned, transcribed, and narrated.
Jack White has worked with everyone from Alicia Keys to Loretta Lynn to Brendan Benson to Alison Mossheart. His new single, "Leck Mich Im Arsch," utilizes a 230-year-old Mozart melody. Oh yeah, his co-conspirators on this one? MeFi favorites Insane Clown Posse.
The lunch concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw used to be (possibly still are) often public general rehearsals for the big evening series. Here we can see the mental transformation of pianist Maria Joao Pires, who expects another Mozart concerto than conductor Riccardo Chailly begins to conduct. [more inside]
Vadrum drums over some familiar classics ... Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro (original). The William Tell overture (original). Rossini's overture to The Barber of Seville — you'll recognize it at 1:20 (original). Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca" a.k.a. "Turkish March," from Piano Sonata No. 11, K. 331 (original). [more inside]
Three-time Gramophone Award winner, Dame of the Empire, and, by consensus, the world's greatest living performer of Mozart's keyboard works, Mitsuko Uchida also gives great piano face. [more inside]
Search the complete works (including 8000 pages of critical commentary) of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a gift by the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum on the occasion of his 250th birthday. (German links are also available).
So, most people know that Friday was the 250th birthday of some musical dude you might've heard of. But! Did you realise that this year also marks the 100th birthday of Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich? Debate over whether Shostakovich was a tortured artist, rebelling against Stalinist Russia, or a Soviet Sympathiser continues, but the fact remains he was a brilliant composer who left a lasting impression on film music, and composed complex works from 2 cello concertos, 15 string quartets, 15 symphonies Warning!: Last four links are direct to the BBC "Discovering Music" Real player streams.
Mozart's musical diary - kept between 1784 and 1791 - goes online today courtesy of the British Library. There is a helpful audio commentary if you can't decipher his handwriting, plus excerpts from some of his music. The same site also has works by artists and authors such as Jane Austen, Leonardo da Vinci and Lewis Carroll.
Rondo Alla Iron Maiden (Program Notes, mp3s). As the name suggests, this new work for string quartet is a classical rondo in the style of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Composer Kurt Mortensen might rather you pay more attention to some of his other works, like this charming folk-tinged trio, but I had to go straight for the silly stuff.
Shot Chord Heard Round the World! On the morning of Nine Eleven 2002 at 8:46am, over 160 choirs across the world will sing Mozart's "Requiem" to metaphorically stand in for the thousands of voices silenced a year ago. Among all the ideas I've heard to commemorate this occasion, this one seems the most dignified, and least cringeworthy. They mentioned it on NPR's Morning Edition (caution: Real Audio file).
Not Salieri but Schnitzel the latest theory about what did in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is that he might have contracted trichinosis from some spoiled pork cutlets. "Why Antonio, I'd just die for some wiener schniztel right now," Wolfgang exclaimed. "Yes, you would," sneered Salieri.......