Rejoice, resound with joy!
September 15, 2013 6:14 PM   Subscribe

The Three Versions of Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate. "Obviously, the 16-year old Mozart was not conversant with all of the theological ramifications of the Milano text when he created the music for Exsultate. Nonetheless, he wrote music which illuminated and even enhanced the spirituality of the text. How a sixteen-year old could create music of the beauty and elegance of this piece is difficult enough to comprehend. That he could match the music so perfectly to the text, playfully enhancing and amplifying its meaning, is mind-boggling, and a clear augury of the genius to be presented to the world in later years in such works as Le Nozze di Figaro, where the perfect matching of music with text is acknowledged by many musicologists today as virtual perfection."

Further highlights:
  • The 16 year old Mozart reproduces a nine-part choral arrangement from memory after hearing it once!
  • Mozart's villanous employer Colloredo doesn't consider Mozart’s compositional activites to be part of his legitimate workload as a musician!
  • The castrato Rauzzini sings like an angel!
"Devotees of Mozart's operas, of his sacred vocal music, as well as of his instrumental music will find grist for their musicological mills in this wonderful work. But even the dilettante will find the story of how not one but three Exsultate, jubilate came into existence to be a fascinating journey into mostly unexplored musical byways."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (8 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
How a sixteen-year old could create music of the beauty and elegance of this piece is difficult enough to comprehend.

How about, he was smart? Through chance, he inherited a brain with rare abilities?
posted by Halogenhat at 7:22 PM on September 15, 2013

Here's a nice version with Kiri Te Kanawa...
posted by jim in austin at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2013

How about, he was smart? Through chance, he inherited a brain with rare abilities?

The entire roomful of musicologists fell silent and stared. Then, all at once, they broke into a wild roar of acclamation. The cheers, the applause were deafening! At last, the mystery of Mozart had been solved! Confetti and streamers filled the air as the musicologists paraded the speaker through the streets of Salzburg on their shoulders, and the sash-swathed, roly-poly mayor declared the entire week a holiday. Grey-haired men in suits shook hands and clapped each other on the back at the UN as teams of soldiers tossed their guns into giant bonfires around which children gambolled and frolicked. Only one question remained to musicology: how had Rachmaninov played those really wide chords?

(Seriously, obviously you are right that nothing literally supernatural was involved, but I think the question being raised here is not literally "how did he do it?" so much as "isn't it amazing that Mozart was able to produce music of this emotional depth at the age of 16, when most boys are still all 'lol butts'?" Especially considering that Mozart was also all "lol butts" at that age, and remained so for the rest of his life. It's an invitation to reconsider our assumptions about where art comes from, what relation it necessarily bears to its creator artist, etc.)
posted by No-sword at 8:01 PM on September 15, 2013 [14 favorites]

lol butts
posted by unknownmosquito at 12:07 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can read his letters here. Apparently more spuni cuni than lol butts, but let's not be pedantic.
posted by Segundus at 1:48 AM on September 16, 2013

This is really interesting. And it looks like I'm going to have another day filled with listening to Mozart, Quantz, Hasse, Rauzzini, etc.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:51 AM on September 16, 2013

It is interesting, but to bring out a couple of significant points one would not guess from the text of the post:
The author(s) of the Salzburg versions is (are) unknown.
The words of the two Salzburg versions (where they differ from the Milano version) do not possess the lyric beauty of the original. They seem much more prosaic and pointedly doctrinal...
So this is not "Hey, three times as much Mozart!" but "Huh, somebody took the amazing thing the sixteen-year old Mozart composed and made a couple of pedestrian variants of it." Not knocking the post—there's a lot of fascinating stuff in there, and I love Exsultate, jubilate beyond all reason—I just don't want anyone to be disappointed when they click through.
posted by languagehat at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2013

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