[A] | [BA-BI] | [BL-BU] | [C] | [D-E] | [F-G] | [H] | [I-J-K-L] | [ ⇑ ] | [N-O-P] | [Q-R] | [S] | [T] | [V-W-Y]

Copyright 2006-2020 by Edward Lein;
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Celso Machado: Musique populaires brésiliennes
      Paçoca (Chôro) - Piazza Vittorio (Chôro Maxixe) Celso Machado (b. 1953) has been living in Vancouver since 1989, but he is originally from Brazil. The decision to become a professional musician was an easy one: his father was a guitarist and band leader in Brazil, and five of his six brothers are also musicians. Celso himself began playing in street bands when he was 7 years old, and although he performs internationally as a guitar virtuoso, he plays percussion and other instruments as well. His recordings are critically acclaimed, and for the film In the Company of Fear he won a Canadian Leo Award for Best Musical Score for Documentary in 2000. The music and rhythms of his homeland continue to permeate his music, but he also includes other folk traditions among his influences, and he has collaborated extensively with Chinese pipa (lute) player Qiu Xia He.

The chôro form, used in the pieces on this evening's program, is the oldest and perhaps most important musical form associated with Brazil, and from it developed the popular samba of the 1960s. Even though the term "chôro" originally referred to "a cry of lament," chôros are often happy, lively virtuoso pieces, and they have long been associated with flute and guitar. The titles of these pieces indicate the composer's inspiration: Paçoca is a traditional Brazilian food, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, but always including cassava flour (i.e., tapioca); and Piazza Vittorio shares its name with the famous public square in Rome.

--Music @ Main, February ,17 2009 (Noteworthy Duo)

Breakdown Tango

John Mackey: Breakdown Tango
Ohio-born composer John Mackey (b.1973) is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music (BFA) and the Juilliard School (MM), where he studied compostion with Donald Erb and John Corigliano respectively. He has received numerous commissions and awards and his works enjoy frequent international performances, including the recent presentation of his Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra by Charlotte Mabrey with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Mackey was Music Director of the Parsons Dance Company from 1999-2003, and Breakdown Tango (aka, Dementia) was composed in 2000 to fill a commission for the company -- the corresponding ballet is called Promenade. About the piece the composer observes: "This work (called 'darkly dramatic' by the New York Times, and 'an appealing, and at times wonderfully trashy piece' by The Clarinet Magazine), has a virtuostic beginning and ending, with a peculiar tango sandwiched in the middle." Breakdown Tango provides the source material for an orchestral work called Redline Tango, and its wind ensemble version won both the 2004 Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize and the 2005 ABA/Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association.

--Music @ Main, April 28, 2009 (enhakē)

Gustav Mahler: Adagietto
(from Symphony no. 5)
Like Smetana, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was born in Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia), and like Schubert he achieved his greatest successes in Vienna. For Mahler, though, it was more for his conducting rather than composing that he gained international fame, and during the last years of his life he accepted principal conducting appointments at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and to the New York Philharmonic. When Mahler died at age 50 from a blood infection, he still had not received full acceptance from the Viennese musical establishment as a composer, but now he is regarded as the last great Viennese symphonist, joining the ranks of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner and Brahms.

In his maturity as a composer Mahler produced only symphonies and orchestral songs, and his only existing chamber work is the early Piano Quartet in A minor, the manuscript of which was rediscovered in the eary 1960s by Mahler's widow, Alma (1879-1964). Its single movement was first performed in 1876 while Mahler was a student at the Vienna Conservatory, and the young composer toyed with the idea of expanding it into a multi-movement work, but abandoned the idea after sketching only two dozen measures of a scherzo movement.

The elegiac Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (1901-1902) is probably the best-known of his symphonic compositions, owing largely to its inclusion in Luchino Visconti's 1971 film, Death in Venice. But even before the film it was popular as a stand-alone concert piece, and it was played at the memorial service for Robert Kennedy in 1968.

--Music @ Main, April 15, 2009 (UNF String Ensemble)

Raúl Maldonado: Vidalita
Raúl Maldonado (b.1937) has been active internationally as a lecturer on music from his native Argentina, as a guitar soloist and member of several different guitar ensembles including the Atahualpa Quartet, and as the leader of his own orchestra. Not surprisingly, his several dozen published compositions almost always include one to six guitars, sometimes in combination with voice or other instruments, and they enjoy frequent performances around the globe.

Vidalita, patterned after a type of melancholy folk song sung by Argentine gauchos (i.e., cowboys), is one of several works written in collaboration with fellow countryman Enzo Gieco, a composer, flutist and conductor, and the piece is also published for clarinet and guitar.

--Music @ Main, February ,17 2009 (Noteworthy Duo)

Augusto Marcellino: Choro 1. (arranged for marimba by Gordon Stout)
The music of the Argentine guitarist Augusto Marcellino (1911-1973) was first introduced to American composer Gordon Stout (b. 1952) by Pablo Cohen, a guitar teacher on the faculty of Ithaca College, where Stout has taught percussion since 1980. Marcellino’s guitar choros are written in a style derived from Brazilian folk music, and Cohen suspected that they would be well suited to the marimba. Stout discovered that indeed they were, and, in addition to his 2002 arrangement of Choro 1, he published marimba arrangements of several other pieces by Marcellino, and also took them as models for some of his original compositions.

Bohuslav Martinů: Variations on a Theme of Rossini for solo cello
Continuing the line of Czech composers from Dvořák through Smetana and Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) is the best-known Czech composer of the mid-20th Century. Both prolific and versatile, Martinů wrote over 400 works in virtually all genres, including more than a dozen operas, 6 symphonies, and 28 works for solo instruments and orchestra.

His father was a poor shoemaker and churchbell-ringer, and, owing to a rather frail constitution, young Bohuslav spent most of his childhood confined to the bell tower where his family lived. But his musical gifts were nonetheless recognized early on, and he began taking violin lessons when he was six or seven years old, and also began to compose. With the backing of his entire hometown of Polička, on the Bohemian-Moravian border, he moved to Prague in 1906, and entered the Conservatory there.

Perhaps because of the introversion his childhood isolation had encouraged, he discovered he was not cut out to be the violin virtuoso his townfolk were counting on--he was expelled from the Conservatory in 1910, due to what his teachers deemed "incorrigible negligence." Somewhat ironically, by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Martinů himself had become a teacher, which, together with his health issues, exempted him from military service. But as other young musicians were conscripted, Martinů began playing violin with the Czech Philharmonic, and the orchestra performed some of his compositions. More importantly, he was exposed to a wide variety of musical styles, including especially the music of Debussy, which he said profoundly influenced his development as a composer.

Martinů moved to Paris in 1923 to study with French composer Albert Roussel (1869-1937), and to absorb the influences of Stravinsky, American jazz, and everything else that was churning in the Arts Capital of the World. Throughout his life, Martinů carried a picture postcard of the church he grew up in, and, perhaps inspired by his nostalgic homesickness, rhythmic and melodic elements of Czech folk music became integrated into his increasingly neoclassical style. But in 1941, not long after the 1940 German invasion of France, he and his French wife found themselves living in the United States, unable to speak English and with no job prospects. Fortunately, as with Bartók and a few other ex-patriot composers fleeing from the Nazis, Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitsky (1874-1951) was able to assist Martinů getting commissions and performances, and the virtually unknown Czech exile soon achieved a growing reputation among the Yanks. All six of Martinů's symphonies were written and fairly widely performed in America, and they prompted the internationally-famous Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969) to declare Martinů the greatest living composer of symphonies.

Written in 1942, Martinů's Variations on a Theme of Rossini was among the first compositions he completed in the U.S., and it was composed for the virtuoso cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), for whom Martinů also wrote several other works. The titular "Theme of Rossini" refers to Dal tuo stellato soglio ("From Your Starry Throne"), from the opera, Mosè in Egitto ("Moses in Egypt," 1819 version). But before Martinů got hold of it, Rossini's tune was first used by Italian violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), in his Sonata "a Preghiera" ("'In Prayer' Sonata"), aka, Moses Fantasy, a set of variations written originally for the violin's G-string. Perhaps because Moses was still in Egypt and Commandment VII had yet to be handed down, cellists have shown no remorse in absconding with Paganini's violin piece and moving it to their own A-string. Regardless of whether Martinů heard a cello transcription, or perhaps even studied the violin original during his conservatory days, Paganini's Fantasy, with its transformation of Rossini's reverential prayer into a light-hearted romp, is where Martinů's fanciful flight actually originates. Only, "Variations on a Variation from Paganini's Variations on a Theme of Rossini" does seem a little too long for a title.

Pietro Mascagni: Voi lo sapete, o mamma | Intermezzo
(both from Cavalleria rusticana)
Italian composer and conductor Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), a classmate of Puccini at the Milan Conservatory, rocketed to international fame following the 1890 premiere of Cavalleria rusticana ("Rustic Chivalry"). Although he wrote more than a dozen subsequent operas, he was never able to duplicate the same level of international success he achieved with the one-act verismo opera of betrayal and revenge that assures the composer his continuing place in opera history.

In Voi lo sapete, o mamma ("Now you shall know, o mother") the unhappily jilted (but still hopeful) "Santuzza" explains to "Mamma Lucia," the mother of her beloved, "Turiddu", the backstory that sets up the unfolding tragedy. Upon returning from the army, Turridu, having discovered that his fiancé, "Lola," is now married to "Alfio," sought comfort for his broken heart by seducing Santuzza, only now he has broken Santuzza's heart by entering into an adulterous affair with the twice faithless Lola.

The orchestral Intermezzo comes just prior to the opera's climactic final scene, and it gained wide-spread exposure among non-opera goers when film director Martin Scorsese used it to open his 1980 bio-pic, Raging Bull, now widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

Peter Mathews: Jubilate Deo | A Prayer
Peter Mathews was born in 1944 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and studied violin and piano under the Toronto Conservatory system. He received a Licentiate Diploma in Piano Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and an undergraduate music degree at Andrews University in Michigan. His graduate degrees include both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he worked with Dr. Eph Ehly. Dr. Mathews is active as composer, teacher, conductor and choirmaster, and has written more than 160 compositions, over 75 of which are published variously by Alliance, Choristers Guild, H.W. Gray, Kjos, Lawson-Gould, Lorenz, MorningStar, St. James Press, and Southern Music. While primarily composing music for worship, his commissions also have included art songs and chamber music with voice and instruments in varying combinations. Dr. Mathews works are regularly performed by some of the finest ensembles here and abroad.

About his Jubilate Deo and A Prayer the composer notes:

"The Jubilate Deo is a setting of Psalm 100 for female voices. It was a commission from two sets of parents in Orlando as a graduation gift for their two daughters who sang together in a children's choir as they were growing up, and were now graduating from high school."

[The text of] "A Prayer is by Thomas Dekker, a late 16th/early 17th c. English dramatist and prose writer, and comes from his Four Birds from Noah's Ark. [The music] was commissioned by Dr. Rick Effinger in Orlando in 'memory of Alkin Moore and all those who have died from HIV/AIDS.' I found the text in graduate school while doing work on Stravinsky, and realized it would be perfect for the commission."
Oh My God, if it be Thy pleasure to cut me off before night,
Yet make me, My Gracious Shepherd, for one of Thy Lambs whom Thou wilt say,
"Come You Blessed," and clothe me in a white robe of righteousness
That I may be one of those singers who shall cry to Thee, Alleluia.
-Thomas Dekker (but with modernized spellings)

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, November 19, 2006 (The Orange Park Chorale: Music of Local Composers)

Kristen Shiner McGuire
Kristen Shiner McGuire (b.1958) is Director of Percussion Studies and Assistant Latin Jazz Ensemble Director at Nazareth College of Rochester, where she has taught since 1984, and where she received the 1998 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Professor McGuire holds a Bachelor of Music degree with Highest Honors from the University of Illinois, and a Master's degree in Percussion Performance together with a Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. She studied with renowned marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, Japan, and other teachers have included Keith Copeland and Jamey Haddad.

--Intermezzo Weekend Concerts, Sunday, October 8, 2006 (UNF Percussion Ensemble, featuring Matt Wardell)

Marc Mellits: Zubrowka
Marc Mellits (b.1966), who studied at Eastman, Yale and Cornell, is on the music faculty of Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Considered a leading American composer of his generation, his award-winning works enjoy frequent performances in North America and Europe. He counts the minimalists Steve Reich and Philip Glass among his influences, along with the rock and funk music of his childhood. More at

--Music @ Main, February 5, 2008 (Piotr Szewczyk: Violin Futura)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809, Hamburg - 1847, Leipzig)

The prodigious musical talents of Felix Mendelssohn rivaled those of Mozart, and like Mozart, Mendelssohn did not live to see his 40th birthday. But his affluent German family provided young Felix with an intellectually stimulating and stable environment, and protected him from the childhood exploitation that Mozart endured. Young Felix benefited from an impressively well-rounded education, and in addition to studying the piano, the violin and composition, he developed skills as a visual artist, evidenced in over 300 surviving paintings and drawings of remarkable quality. At sixteen, Mendelssohn produced his first musical masterwork, the Octet for Strings, Op. 20 (1825). The following year saw the completion of the brilliant A Midsummer Night’s Dream concert overture, the themes from which he would later expand into his Op.61 incidental music for a 1843 production of Shakespeare's play. In terms of achieving his musical maturity, Mendelssohn surpassed even Mozart.

When he was 20, Mendelssohn sparked the revival of interest in the music of J.S. Bach and also gained international fame by conducting the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion since Bach’s death. During his tenures as conductor in Düsseldorf (1833-1835) and Leipzig (1835-1845), Mendelssohn likewise rekindled interest in the music of Handel, and works he premiered included Schubert’s newly-discovered Symphony No. 9. Mendelssohn grew into a superstar composer, pianist, organist and conductor, especially in Great Britain, and was a particular favorite of Queen Victoria. He also founded Germany's first conservatory, located in Leipzig.

Like many in his family, Mendelssohn suffered from hypertension, and was often in ill-health, especially during the last years of his life. He died from a series of strokes in 1847. Survived by his wife Cécile and their five children, Mendelssohn's musical legacy includes the well-known "Scottish" and "Italian" Symphonies, his often-performed and recorded Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, and Elijah (1846), which is surpassed only by Handel's Messiah in popularity among large-scale sacred oratorios.

In contrast to many of his flamboyant contemporaries, Mendelssohn neither overcame abject poverty, had a string of adulterous affairs, nor suffered syphilitic insanity—consequently, his reputation as a "Romantic" has suffered. More to the point: after Mendelssohn died, Richard Wagner became a particularly vociferous critic, lumping Mendelssohn with the likes of Brahms for their backward-looking drivel, compared with his own creations of genius. In addition to tooting his own tuba, Wagner had ulterior motives which had nothing to do with Mendelssohn's music. For one, Maestro Mendelssohn had rejected (and possibly lost) the score to Wagner’s early Symphony. For another, Wagner was virulently anti-Semitic, and Mendelssohn, although Protestant himself, was the grandson of a well-known Jewish philosopher.

Many pundits allowed Wagner’s propaganda to fuel negativity toward Mendelssohn through most of the 20th Century, but Mendelssohn’s music never lost favor with concertgoers. Nor with bride's: the Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61, has long been regarded as the quintessential recessional for weddings. Ironically, Mendelssohn's March frequently is paired with the bridal processional from Wagner’s Lohengrin— it seems posterity finds in Mendelssohn’s music the perfect complement to Wagner’s. So now, in wedding chapels everywhere, the two composers are forever married.

Revised, ©2020 by Ed Lein

Sinfonia No. 2 in D major (MWV N.2)
Between the ages of 12 and 14 young Felix composed a dozen symphonies for string orchestra as student exercises, at first mimicking 18th-Century formal procedures. Working under the guidance of composer Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832), the 12-year-old Mendelssohn wrote the first seven of his 12 Sinfonias for strings in 1821. Like the others in this early group, >Sinfonia No. 2 in D major (MWV N.2) follows a 3-movement, fast-slow-fast outline, apparently taking as a model works by J.S. Bach's son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).

Fantasie in F# minor, Op. 28,"Scottish Sonata"
Although the final manuscript of this Fantasie in F# minor was not published until 1834, the composer’s letters suggest that the work originated in 1828, around the same time that he wrote his “Scottish” Symphony and the Hebrides Overture. At the time of publication Mendelssohn himself suppressed his original title, Sonate ecossaise, but it nonetheless shares musical characteristics with his other Gaelic inspirations, so the nickname has sneaked its way back into use. Considered one of Mendelssohn’s finest works for the virtuoso pianist, its title and formal design suggest that it is perhaps patterned after Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia (aka, Moonlight Sonata), with three movements each faster than the previous, even though Mendelssohn’s thematic material is nothing like Beethoven’s.

Sonata for Violin & Piano in F Major (1838)
The first two of Mendelssohn‘s three sonatas for violin and piano were composed at ages 11 and 16 respectively. This evening’s Sonata dates from 1838 and is a work of his maturity, but it was never submitted for publication by the composer, nor does it appear to have been performed prior to its rediscovery by British virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin in the early 1950s. This has caused some to ponder why Mendelssohn might have “rejected” so fine a work, but it is much more likely that the composer simply never found time to revise the Sonata to his full satisfaction. Unlike so many composers, Mendelssohn did not depend on the publication of his works for income, so he had the luxury of taking as much time as he wanted to refine various details—e.g., even though Mendelssohn first conducted his ever-popular “Italian” Symphony (No. 4) in 1833, he still was withholding it from publication at the time of his death 14 years later!

-- Music @ Main, June 10, 2009 (Huls Clark Duo)

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844)
      Allegro molto appassionato (E minor) - Andante (C major) - Allegretto non troppo / Allegro molto vivace (E minor)

Mendelssohn’s flawless Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, is among the most frequently-performed concerted works, and one of the most influential. It was composed for violinist Ferdinand David, a long-time friend of the composer who provided technical advice, and possibly coauthored the demanding first-movement cadenza. Unusual for the time, the cadenza is written out rather than left for soloists to improvise, and it occurs as a bridge between the development section and recap, rather than at the coda. Other formal innovations include having the soloist introduce the principal music of the first movement by dispensing with an orchestral exposition, and connecting all three movements into an unbroken musical stream.

The year after the Concerto's 1845 premiere, Mendelssohn achieved another triumph with Elijah, a sacred oratorio second in popularity only to Handel's Messiah. But the Violin Concerto proved to be Mendelssohn's last orchestral masterpiece, and perhaps the work that best fulfilled the promise of the former Wunderkind.

Gian Carlo Menotti: Monica’s Waltz (from The Medium)
By the time Italian-born composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti (jahn KAHR-lo muh-NAHT-ee,1911-2007) immigrated to America at age 16 he had already written two operas (the first at age 11), and before he turned fifty he had composed the first-ever opera for radio (The Old Maid and the Thief, 1939), had won two Pulitzer Prizes, for The Consul (1950) and The Saint of Bleeker Street (1954), and had written the libretto for Vanessa (1956-57), the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by Samuel Barber (1910-1981). He also wrote the first opera for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951), and one would be hard pressed to name another English-language opera that is better known than this perennial Christmas favorite. Mr. Menotti, who once quipped about critics, “They often spoil my breakfast but never my lunch,” passed away just this past February, at the ripe old age of 95.

The hour-long and darkly-dramatic The Medium (1946) was the work that first brought Menotti international fame—coupled with the composer’s sunny comedy, The Telephone (1947), the pair of operas ran on Broadway for over 200 performances. The Medium’s “Madame Flora” is a moribund charlatan (in need of an intervention) who uses her daughter, “Monica,” and a mute orphan, “Toby,” to fake the seemingly supernatural effects her séance customers witness— until alcohol, guilt and fear ferment into a deadly brew. In Monica’s Waltz, the isolated daughter, as innocent as her mother is cynical, playfully enacts a mock-romantic exchange between herself and Toby. But as Monica gives voice to what she imagines Toby might say to her, she tenderly realizes it’s not just a game.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, November 18, 2007 (Bella Voce Cabaret

José Luis Merlin:
      Progresiones para Pauline

      Suite del recuerdo (Evocación - Zamba - Chacarera - Carnavalito-Evocación-Joropo)
Argentine composer José Luis Merlin (b. 1952) began studying the guitar when he was 5 years old, and was performing publicly by age 9. He is currently the Director of the Mundo-Valesquez School of Music in Madrid, Spain, where he also teaches guitar. Merlin has toured extensively throughout North and South America and Europe, and has released over ten CDs in Argentina, the USA, Australia and Japan. His compositions often feature his own instrument, and he typically draws inspiration from Argentine folk music.

Progresiones para Pauline is dedicated to the memory of Pauline Lasse, who worked in Eugene, Oregon, for the Council on Human Rights in Latin America, but rather than mourning the passing of his dear friend, the composer celebrates her life.

Merlin certainly lives up to his name with the "magically" evocative Suite del recuerdo ("Suite of Remembrance"), one of his most popular works, and one which celebrates a variety of South American folk songs and dances. Originally for guitar solo, the composer conveniently adapted the initial Evocación and the final Joropo for flute and guitar, so Lisa joins Michael for the outer movements.

--Music @ Main, February 17, 2009 (Noteworthy Duo)

Olivier Messiaen
French composer, organist, teacher, and ornithologist
Born: 1908, Avignon, France; died:1992, Clichy (a suburb of Paris), France

Quatuor pour la fin du temps

1. Liturgie de cristal ("Liturgy of crystal")
2. Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps 
         ("Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time")
3. Abîme des oiseaux ("Abyss of birds", for solo clarinet)
4. Intermède ("Interlude", for violin, cello, and clarinet)
5. Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus ("Praise to the eternity of Jesus", for cello and piano)
6. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes ("Dance of fury, for the seven trumpets")
7. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps 
         ("Tangle of rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time")
8. Louange à l'Immortalité de Jésus ("Praise to the immortality of Jesus", for violin and piano)

Among the most significant composers of the 20th Century, France’s Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was also a noted organist, music theorist, and extremely influential teacher. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1919 (at age 11), was organist at Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris from 1931 to 1978, and joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatory in 1941.

Just prior to this latter appointment, Messiaen, who had been serving in the French army's medical auxiliary, was imprisoned in a concentration camp when the Germans occupied France in 1940, and it was while he was a prisoner that he composed and first performed his best-known work, Quatuor pour la fin du temps ("Quartet for the End of Time"). The instrumentation was determined by the players who were available (also prisoners), and Messiaen, a devout Roman Catholic, states in the score that the work is directly inspired by passages from the Biblical Book of Revelation:

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever and ever that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.

Of its eight movements, the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th use the full quartet, while the others use one to three instruments from the ensemble. The 3rd is a demanding slow movement for clarinet solo, and the 4th is a scherzo-like movement that omits the piano. The 5th, for cello and piano, and the 8th, for violin and piano, were both adapted by Messiaen from earlier pieces.

Like most of Messian's works, the Quatuor is rhythmically complex, and the melodies and harmonies make use of non-traditional scales which deliberately avoid definite tonal centers. Messiaen considered himself as much an ornithologist as a musician, and birdsong often plays a key role in his music, as in the first movement which includes imitations of blackbirds (in the clarinet) and nightingales (in the violin). The unison instruments in the 6th movement are meant to imitate gongs and trumpets, and the movement illustrates the composer's fascination with augmented and diminishing rhythmic patterns. The 2nd and 7th movements share thematic materials, and the "rainbows" that Messiaen describes as accompanying the angel were more than mere fancy for the composer--he had a benign neurological condition called synaesthesia which caused him to experience colors when he heard music.

-- Music @ Main, April 28, 2009 (enhakē)
-- Music @ Main 2/1/2010: Trio Solis with Deborah Bish

Jax Symphony Notes
L'ascension ("The Ascension")
Composed in 1932-1933
Premiered on February 9, 1935, in Paris, conducted by Robert Siohan
ca. 27 minutes (6', 6', 6', 9')

The illumination of the theological truths of the Catholic faith
is the first aspect of my work, the most noble, and no doubt
the most useful and most valuable–perhaps the only one I won't
regret at the hour of my death.
– Olivier Messiaen

Among 20th-Century church musicians none had a higher profile nor was more profoundly influenced by his faith than French composer, organist and teacher Olivier Messiaen. Even as a child Messiaen was an independent thinker and highly self-motivated, traits encouraged by his mother, a poet, and father, an English teacher and translator of Shakespeare’s complete works. While his younger brother might ask for toys and sweets, Olivier limited his Christmas wish-lists to the opera scores he'd pore through at the piano, having taught himself to play. Although Messiaen said his parents "were not believers," when their 11-year-old son entered the Paris Conservatoire he already knew, quite on his own, that the Roman Catholic Church would be the guiding force throughout is long life.

Messiaen finished his coursework in 1930, and the following year was appointed organist at La Trinité; apart from internment during World War II, he remained at the Parisian church until his death. He also gained recognition as one of the century's most influential teachers, first at the Schola Cantorum de Paris, then at the Conservatoire after the War.

Completed in 1933, L'ascension (“The Ascension”) uses neither an Asian-inspired rhythmic foundation nor the birdsong heard in Messiaen's later works. Still, there is no mistaking the composer's unique voice, with melodies and atmospheric harmonies colored by his “modes of limited transposition.” These are seven musical scales that alternate distinctive combinations of whole- and half-tones, including the whole-tone scale previously exploited by Debussy, and the exotic octatonic scale favored by Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky.

Each of the “Four Symphonic Meditations” includes a quotation that identifies the inspiration for its descriptive title:

  • 1. The Majesty of Christ Asking Glory of His Father (Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee.
    – John 17:1)
  • 2. Serene Hallelujahs of a Soul Yearning for Heaven (We beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we may in mind dwell in Heaven.
    – Ascension Mass)
  • 3. Hallelujah on the Trumpet, Hallelujah on the Cymbal (The Lord is gone up with the sound of a trumpet, O clap your hands all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. – Psalm 47)
  • 4. Christ’s Prayer as He Ascends to His Father (I have manifested Thy name unto men ... And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. – John 17:6, 11)

Melody drives the musical forms, with several themes based on Gregorian chants or chant fragments “transposed” into Messiaen's modes. Much of the orchestration suggests organ registrations, and Messiaen later transcribed the first, second and fourth movements as a suite for organ solo, but composed a new third movement to replace the orchestral scherzo with a bravura toccata better suited to the keyboard.

The contemplative first meditation highlights the brass choir with woodwind reinforcement, while the rapturous second features woodwinds supported by strings. The third meditation resounds with fanfares as the full orchestra dances into a closing fugato; where the other movements aspire to a celestial timelessness, this one embraces earthbound celebration. For strings alone and with a final dominant 7th chord left hanging, Messiaen's concluding meditation slowly ascends like an immutable “amen.”

Boniface Mganga: Jambo (Kenya)
Composer and Deputy Secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Boniface Mganga received international acclaim with Missa Luba, a choral mass that uses a polyrhythmic style typical of Kenya’s vocal tradition. Jambo, which means “Hello” in Swahili, is based on a greeting song from Kenya.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, February 10, 2008 (UNF Chorale & UNF Chamber Singers)

Akira Miyoshi: Torse III. (1968)
      I. Thèse -- II. Chant -- III. Commentaire -- IV. Synthèse
The works featuring marimba by Japanese composer Akira Miyoshi (b. 1933) are directly inspired by the playing of Keiko Abe, the Japanese virtuoso who introduced a more percussive approach to the marimba during the 1960s. From 1955-57 the Tokyo-born Miyoshi studied at the Paris Conservatory, and in Torse III he utilizes disjunct melodic motion and extreme register placement typical of contemporaneous French avante-garde composers, but previously unheard in marimba music. The work also introduces new mallet techniques, such as independent one-handed rolls, which showcased the extraordinary talents of Ms. Abe.

--Music @ Main, March, 2009 (Tony Steve, marimba)

On YouTube Bob Moore: Low Viscosity (2010)
Multifaceted composer and pianist Bob Moore (b. 1962) is the Music Director for the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, and was Director of Music Ministry at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, where he co-founded the St. Augustine Music Festival. He has published nearly 200 choral and instrumental works, many of which have been recorded on 6 CDs and appear in various denominations’ hymnals. He was a resident composer in the Faith Partners Program, a finalist in the Jacksonville Symphony’s Fresh Ink competition, and has been the recipient of numerous commissions. In addition to his private students, Mr. Moore has taught band and chorus in public and private schools, and has directed community choral groups as well.

Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and now living in Jacksonville, Florida, Mr. Moore studied composition with Richard Proulx, William Schirmer, Gordon Goodwin and Bud Udell at the University of South Carolina, Jacksonville University, and the University of Florida. He is the St. Augustine Orchestra’s composer-in-residence, and the SAO recently premiered the orchestral version of his Low Viscosity, with the composer conducting and Tony Steve (b. 1959) as the marimba soloist. As a piano and percussion duo, Bob and Tony frequently perform jazz and experimental music together, and they are noted for their collaborations providing live music for silent films. More at

On YouTube

Undine Smith Moore: Love Let the Wind Cry, How I Adore Thee
Sometimes called "Dean of Black Women Composers," Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) was graduated cum laude from Juilliard in 1926, became supervisor of music for the Goldsboro, North Carolina public school system in 1926, and joined the faculty of Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) in 1927 until her retirement in 1972. She earned an MA degree from Columbia University (1931), and was awarded honorary Doctor of Music degrees from both Virginia State College (1972) and Indiana University (1976). In 1977 she was named Music Laureate of Virginia, and other honors include the National Association of Negro Musicians Distinguished Achievement Award (1975), the National Black Caucus Award (1980), and the Virginia Governor’s Award in the Arts (1985). Moore, who modestly referred to herself as a teacher who composed, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for her cantata, Scenes from the Life of a Martyr (1980), based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., following the work's premiere in Carnegie Hall.

Moore's song, Love Let the Wind Cry, How I Adore Thee, sets five (of six) verses from an untitled poem adapted by Bliss Carman (1861-1929), published as No. 31 in Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics.

Hiro Morozumi: Real Phone Key
Although he now resides in his native Japan, Hiro Morozumi first established his reputation as a jazz pianist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area while attending the University of North Texas. As a composer he shows great promise, and received a full composition scholarship to the 2003 Henry Mancini Institute, and won the 2003 Down Beat Best Extended Composition Student Award. More at

-->Music @ Main, February 5, 2008 (Piotr Szewczyk: Violin Futura)

Ennio Morricone: Nella fantasia
The song Nella fantasia (“In My Fantasy”) was originally an instrumental piece called Gabriel’s Oboe from the motion picture The Mission (1986), but British soprano Sarah Brightman hounded Academy Award®-winning composer Ennio Morricone (EHN-yoh mor-ee-KOHN-eh, b.1928) for several years to turn it into a song until he finally relented. With an original Italian text by Chiara Ferraù, Nella fantasia first appeared on Brightman’s 1998 album, Eden. The song’s titular fantasy envisions a just world of peace and harmony, a world that grows ever brighter where we may “… dream of spirits that are always free, Like the clouds that fly, Full of humanity in the depths of the spirit.”

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, October 21, 2007 (Cromley and Friends: Voices & Violin, Bach to Broadway)

Jules Mouquet: La Flûte de Pan, op. 15
French composer Jules Mouquet (1867-1946) became a professor of harmony at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1913. He himself had excelled there as a student of Théodore Dubois and Xavier Leroux, winning several prestigious composition prizes, including the Prix de Rome in 1886, the same prize Debussy had won two years before. His Late Romantic style is characteristically French, with fluid chromaticism and modal inflections coloring an essentially Impressionistic soundscape. Mouquet's most-performed work is La Flûte de Pan ("Pan's Flute"), op. 15, composed in 1906, for flute with either piano or orchestra. Each of the work's three movements is prefaced with a brief poem in French -- these are the lines that precede the first movement, Pan et les bergers ("Pan and the Shepherds"):

O Pan qui habites la montagne,
chante nous de tes douces levres une chanson,
chante nous la en t'accompagnant du roseau pastoral.

O Pan, who dwells on the mountain,
Sing us a song from your sweet lips,
Sing to us accompanied by your pastoral reed-pipe.

Jean-Joseph Mouret: Rondeau
By the time he was in his twenties, French Baroque composer Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738) had become one of the most successful musicians living in Paris. But then, as now, musical styles were ever-evolving, and Mouret could neither adapt to changing musical tastes nor cope with his eventual fall from fashion, and when he died he was penniless and confined to an insane asylum. Although the majority of his works remain virtually unknown, today one would be hard-pressed to name another piece from the French Baroque more recognized than this Rondeau, thanks to its becoming the trademark theme music for PBS's Masterpiece Theatre in 1971.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Austrian-born Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (VOOLF-gahng ah-muh-DAY-oos MOHT-sahrt, 1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career touring Europe as a 6-year-old piano prodigy, and he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way. Mozart wrote 22 operas, including, The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), Cosi fan tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791), as well as 40 symphonies (“No. 37” is by Michael Haydn, but with a new introduction by Mozart), 27 concertos, chamber music, sonatas, and choral pieces, numbering over 600 works all together.

Divertimento in D, K.136
Mozart basically was still a 16-year-old "apprentice" composer when he wrote the Divertimento in D, K.136. It is the first of the three works (K. 136-138) that are sometimes referred to as the "Salzburg Symphonies," because he was employed as court musician in Salzburg during in the winter of 1772 when they were written. It is unclear from his manuscript whether Mozart intended them for string quartet or string orchestra, and the title "divertimento" was added by a hand other than Mozart's. Unlike the composer's mature Divertimentos and Serenades for winds and strings, which typically have at least 6 movements, these Salzburg string-only works have just three movements. By this point in his career Mozart had already spent time in Italy, and would soon return, so it is not surprising that he seems to have patterned them after the Italian sinfonia, works typically in a fast-slow-fast, three-movement pattern.

L'amerò, sarò costante from Il Re Pastore ("The Shepherd King"), K. 208

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, February, 2007 (Hsiao-Ling Wang, Kristin Samuelson)

Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", K. 265/300e (arr. for flute quartet by Paul Morgan)
His Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", K. 265/300e, originally composed for piano solo, is based on the same tune used in the children’s nursery song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Arranger Paul Morgan (b.1928) was principal flutist in the Fort Worth Opera Company and the Wichita Falls Symphony, and he has published numerous works for flute and flute ensembles.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, March 9, 2008 (Arioso Flute Quartet)

Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 311, gets it's "Alla Turca" nickname from the famous last movement, which is often performed on its own as Turkish Rondo or Turkish March. The "Turkish" style was meant to conjure the sound of Janissary bands which had become quite the rage throughout Europe--Haydn and Beethoven, among others, also imitated the style in several pieces. Mozart's first movement is a theme with six variations. Following the 2nd-movement (minuet with trio), the Alla Turca rondo tune has been described as beginning like a 7th variation of the first-movement theme, perhaps providing the whole Sonata with a cyclic unity unusual for the time.

The Sonata in F Major, K. 332, is the third of three sonatas (along with K. 330 and K. 331) that were published in 1784. It seems likely that Mozart had composed them for his students the previous year, but he and his publisher decided they could "cash in" on Mozart's growing fame as a pianist by offering them for sale to the public at large.

Jax Symphony Notes
2-Piano Concerto, K.365
Concerto for 2 Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365 (1779?)
Mozart’s hometown afforded ample opportunity to showcase the young composer’s growing catalog of instrumental and choral works. But during his travels he had tasted success as an opera composer, and the relatively provincial Salzburg lacked the resources to nurture this particular talent. In August 1777, Mozart resigned his post and set off to explore prospects in Germany and Paris, but by January 1779 the disappointed genius had returned to Salzburg.

In the meantime he had witnessed a new trend, namely compositions featuring multiple soloists with orchestra. This inspired several such works from Mozart, notably the Concerto for Flute and Harp (K. 299), the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola (K. 364), and the Concerto for Two Pianos (K. 365).

Listen Up: Among Mozart’s 27 piano concertos, the one counted as "No. 10" is his only work for two pianos and orchestra. The soloists are equal partners who dominate the exchange and development of musical ideas, while the orchestra mostly accompanies and provides structural punctuation marks, along with the usual introductions. In the first movement, after each piano elaborates on the orchestra's opening theme they ignore its secondary tune and carry on with new ideas, switching briefly to the minor mode in the development section. The orchestra announces the recapitulation, beginning with that secondary theme the pianos skipped the first time around. The pianos briefly revisit the minor mode, and the orchestra’s coda adds a hearty ―congratulations‖ after the soloists' cadenza. Throughout the wistful second movement the pianos provide ever-changing commentary on the theme introduced by the orchestra; a brief, plaintive midsection is colored by the sustained high notes of the oboe. The finale continues in even brighter spirits than the first movement, with the pianos providing new variations with each appearance of the rondo tune.

Mozart most likely composed his Concerto No. 10 shortly before his final departure from Salzburg in 1781, and he probably intended to play it with his duo partner from his prodigy days: his older sister Maria Anna (1751–1829), affectionately known as "Nannerl. But the first documented performance was with Josepha Barbara von Auernhammer, Mozart’s patron and pupil, soon after he had settled in Vienna. The same duo would perform it again, because with Mozart there’s never too much of a good thing.

Jax Symphony Notes
Ballet from Idomeneo
Ballet Music from Idomeneo, Ré di Creta, K. 367 (1781)
Although Mozart didn't get the hoped-for new job during his August 1777-January 1779 sojourn to France and Germany, he nonetheless must have made a good impression. The following year Mozart got a commission from the Elector of Bavaria to write an opera for the 1781 carnival season in Munich. Idomeneo was the result. Mozart had composed a dozen earlier operas, but Idomeneo is regarded as the first to fully demonstrate his originality and forecast the glories that would follow.

LISTEN UP: The commission required that Mozart conclude with a ballet. From among the five "cursed dances" he dashed off, it's likely that only the Chaconne and Pas seul (Solo dance) were included in the first performances. Despite its name, the Chaconne does not present continuous variations over an unchanging harmonic pattern. It instead pays homage to a chaconne tune from Iphigénie en Aulide by C.W. Gluck that Mozart adapted for his own rondo-like structure. There's a somewhat slower middle section, and when the tempo picks up again it slips into the minor mode before recalling the opening music. The Chaconne moves almost seamlessly into the multi-sectioned Solo dance of Mr. Le Grand (Largo, Allegretto, Più allegro, Più allegro), which identifies the choreographer of the first performances in its title.

An interesting footnote: For the 150th anniversary of Mozart's first international triumph, the Vienna State Opera engaged Richard Strauss to adapt Idomeneo to 1931 tastes. The recipe: 2 parts Mozart, 1 part Strauss.

Left unfinished, Mozart’s Piano Fantasia in D minor, K. 397, is thought to have been composed in 1872, around the same time as the Prelude (Fantasy) and Fugue in C major, K. 394, and the Fantasy in C minor, K. 396. The manuscript of the D minor Fantasy ended on a dominant 7th chord, and Mozart originally may have planned to follow it with a fugue, as in K. 394. It was first published in its original, incomplete form in 1804, but a new edition came out two years later that included an additional 10 measures added by the publisher so the work could be performed without leaving the audience hanging. Comprised of three contrasting sections, The Fantasy has become one of Mozart’s most popular piano pieces. It opens with an Andante section reminiscent of Baroque-era preludes, replete with arpeggios. The second section, the longest of the three, is a melancholy Adagio that is interrupted by a couple of unmeasured cadenzas, and the final section is a spritely Allegretto in D Major.

Horn Concerto No. 3, K. 447
When Mozart reached the ripe old age of 7, he made the acquaintance of Joseph Leutgeb (1732-1811), one of his father's colleagues and a leading horn virtuoso of the day. Leutgeb remained a lifelong friend, and Mozart wrote his four horn concertos specifically for Leutgeb; the autograph copies of the solo horn parts even include personal messages from the composer to the performer. The four horn concertos date from the last eight years of Mozart's short life, beginning with "No. 2" in 1783, and ending with "No. 1" in 1791, not long before his death. Mozart kept a catalog of his works, but it did not include what we know as Horn Concerto No. 3, K. 447 (it may have been second in order of composition). So exactly when it was completed is not known, but the mid-1780s is the likely timeframe. All four concertos have held places in the repertoire of virtually all professional horn players, and they certainly attest to the skill of Herr Leutgeb--the piston and valve horn we have today had not yet been invented, so performance on the "natural" horn requires a prodigious amount of hand and lip manipulation to play any tones outside the instrument's natural harmonic series.

Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457
The Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457 (1784) is generally regarded as Mozart's finest work in the genre, and it likely served as the inspiration for Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, "Pathétique". Mozart dedicated his three-movement Sonata to Thérèse von Trattner, a friend and piano student who later became godmother to four of the composer's six children. --Music @ Main, October 20, 2009 (Abbas Abboud, piano)

Piano Quartet No. 1, KV 478
Written in 1785, Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 1, KV 478, is the earliest masterpiece for a surprisingly rare performance ensemble combining piano with string trio—Haydn wrote nothing for piano quartet and Beethoven never returned to the medium after three very early Piano Quartets, WoO 36, coincidentally also written in 1785 when Beethoven was only 14. Mozart was originally commissioned to write a set of three quartets suitable for amateur musicians, but the publisher canceled the order for the last two quartets because the first one was too difficult for amateurs, and he feared the new quartets would be unlikely to return a profit. Nonetheless, this Quartet is one of Mozart’s finest creations, and the great Czech Romantic composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) borrowed the opening theme for the finale of his String Quintet, Op. 1. Always strapped for cash, Mozart luckily got to keep the advance payment from the commission, but even with the commission canceled Mozart found the instrumentation artistically rewarding, enough so that he returned to it 9 months later, producing his Piano Quartet No. 2, KV 493. --Music @ Main, March 3, 2009 (Trio Florida)

Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492

Le nozze di Figaro: Overture (arr. for clarinet choir by Lucien Cailliet)
Le nozze di Figaro ("The Marriage of Figaro," 1786), is a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire, and its famous Overture is frequently performed as a stand-alone concert piece, as in this arrangement for clarinet choir. Arranger Lucien Cailliet (1897-1985) was born in France but moved to the United States in 1918, and became a clarinetist and staff arranger for the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. Upon completing his doctoral studies in 1937, Cailliet (often misspelled "Caillet") joined the faculty of the University of Southern California for seven years, after which he devoted time to composing and arranging scores for nearly 50 films. Cailliet's arrangements of orchestral music for wind ensembles are highly regarded and frequently performed.

--Music @ Main, April 8, 2009 (UNF Clarinet Choir)

Le nozze di Figaro: Non più andrai
In 1786, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1838) began their highly successful collaboration with the comic opera, Le nozze di Figaro (“The Marriage of Figaro”), which pokes wicked fun at the aristocracy. “Figaro,” formerly a barber in Seville, is now the valet to “Count Almaviva.” Figaro is about to marry “Susanna,” the maid to the Count's wife, and both Figaro and the "Countess" are unhappy, to say the least, when the Count makes inappropriate advances toward Susanna. Eventually the bride and groom team up with the wronged Countess to outwit the old philander, but not before the Countess laments her husband's would-be infidelity in Porgi, Amor ("Grant me, O Love").

Le nozze di Figaro: Non più andrai
In the meantime, “Cherubino,” a household page (and hopeless flirt), has developed a schoolboy crush on the Countess. When the Count gets wind of it— well, what’s good for the gander ain’t good for the goose, so Almaviva decides to get rid of the young nuisance by drafting him into the army. In Non più andrai (“No More Gallivanting”), Figaro shamelessly teases the youth about having to give up his current occupation (of chasing skirts) for the “glories” of mortal combat.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, November 18, 2007 (Bella Voce Cabaret

"Kegelstatt" Trio in Eb Major, K. 498
Composed in 1786, the "Kegelstatt" Trio was originally written to be played by clarinetist Anton Stadler (1753-1812), for whom Mozart also wrote a concerto and quintet, with Mozart playing the viola part and with one of Mozart’s students on piano. Legend has it that Mozart wrote the work while simultaneously occupied in a game of skittles (i.e., lawn bowling), hence the nickname “Kegelstatt,” a German term indicating the skittles playing field.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, May 4, 2008 (JU Faculty Trio)

Piano Trio in E Minor, K. 502: 1. Allegro | 2. Larghetto | 3. Allegretto
Mozart is seldom, if ever, called “The Father of the Modern Piano Trio,” but he well might be as he was the first composer to treat the violin and cello as partners independent of the keyboard. Earlier works for the ensemble, and even those by Haydn written after Mozart had died, mostly relegated the strings as optional parts that merely doubled and reinforced the piano or harpsichord, which was still a popular household instrument among amateur players. Mozart wrote the first three of his six piano trios in the summer of 1786, and the rest in 1788. The B-flat major Piano Trio, K. 502, was the third one composed, and it is considered his finest—most of the others were intended for amateur musicians, whereas he intended to perform this one himself. It is one of the few works for which his working sketches survive, and from them it is clear that he took the challenge of achieving the proper balance among the instruments very seriously. But, of course, being Mozart there is little wonder that he succeeded so perfectly.

Abendempfindung an Laura (Laura's Evening Sentiment" (K. 523) was written in 1787, and although exactly who "Laura" represents remains a mystery, her melancholy musing provided the inspiration for what is considered Mozart's finest song for voice and piano, which in turn provided Schubert a worthy example of what the genre might aspire to.

Don Giovanni, K. 527 (1787)
Of all the different versions of the Don Juan legend, Mozart’s comic opera, Don Giovanni, on a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1838), is among the best known and most discussed. The Don is an unrepentant rake who lives solely for his own selfish pleasures, with utter disregard for how his behavior might affect others. Mozart’s opera picks up as Giovanni’s luck finally begins to fade and his past begins to catch up with him. As a comedy, the opera has the required happy ending— for everyone, that is, except the amoral Don!

La ci darem la mano
The Don is on the run (after killing the father of a would-be romantic conquest) when he spies a party of peasants celebrating the upcoming nuptials of the beautiful “Zerlina” and her jealous fiancé, “Masetto.” Don Giovanni manages to get Zerlina alone, and in the beautifully seductive La ci darem la mano, he is almost successful in adding another conquest to the over 2000 already under his belt.


In Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata ("That ungrateful wretch betrayed me"), "Donna Elvira," one of the Don's betrayed victims, reflects on the torn emotions he evokes in her. She cannot deny that his guilt deserves the wrath of heaven, but at the same time, realizing that she still has feelings for him, she is fearful at the thought of him being harmed.

Mozart’s graceful and charming Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545, is likely the one that first comes to mind when his 18 works in the genre are mentioned. Despite its present-day popularity, the Sonata, dating from 1788, remained unpublished while Mozart was alive, not appearing in print until 1805. The clear-cut themes and formal structure are about as “Classical” as you can get, but the first movement sonata-form (i.e., using an "exposition-development-recapitulation" structure) boasts one anomaly: the recap begins in F major (the subdominant key) rather than in the expected home key of C major. Schubert and other later composers picked up on the idea, but it was very unusual when Mozart used it.

Così fan tutte: Soave sia il vento
Così fan tutte (roughly, “All Women Are Like That”), K.588, follows Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni as Mozart’s third (and last) opera on a libretto by Da Ponte. The story revolves around “Fiordiligi” and “Dorabella,” two sisters who are each engaged to army officers. The officers enter into a wager with “Don Alfonso,” a cynical old philosopher, to test the fidelity of the sisters—the officers, never doubting their brides-to-be, pretend they are called off to war, but they soon will reappear disguised as foreigners, and each will then try to seduce the other’s fiancé. In the exquisite trio, Soave sia il vento, the sisters and Don Alfonso bid the soldiers a safe farewell. As the opera progresses, the soldiers ultimately loose their bet, but in the end they all reconcile, and everyone rejoices at their ability to forgive and laugh at their mistakes.

--Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, November 18, 2007 (Bella Voce Cabaret)

The Magic Flute: The Queen of the Night's Vengeance Aria (arr. for 2 flutes)
An extremely demanding tour de force originally for high (high!) coloratura soprano, Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart"), is from the 2nd Act of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute," K. 620, 1791), the immensely popular Singspiel completed only a few months before the composer's death. Also known as "The Queen of the Night's Vengeance Aria," it famously presents the woefully unmaternal Queen trying to coerce her daughter, Pamina, to surreptitiously stab the Queen's rival, the virtuous Sarastro. Arranger Gerhard Braun (b. 1932) is a German flutist, composer, teacher, and recording artist who is highly regarded especially for his virtuoso recorder-playing.

Jax Symphony Notes for
with Latin texts &
Requiem in D Minor, KV 626 (Beyer edition)
- I. Introitus: Requiem aeternam
- II. Kyrie eleison
- III. Sequentia:
          Dies irae; Tuba mirum; Rex tremendae; Recordare; Confutatis; Lacrymosa
- IV. Offertorium (Domine Jesu; Hostias)
- VI. Agnus Dei
- VII. Communio: Lux aeterna

Composed in 1791; completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr (1766-1803); edited by Franz Beyer (b. 1922)
Premiered on December 10, 1791, for Mozart's memorial service in Vienna (likely the Introitus & Kyrie only)
First complete public performance on January 2, 1793, in Vienna
ca. 54 minutes (6’; 3’; 2’, 3’, 6, 3’, 4’; 4’, 5’; 2’, 6’; 4’; 6’)

With all the cloak-and-dagger stories surrounding Mozart's Requiem, it’s almost surprising none begins, "It was a dark and stormy night." Here's the thing: while the "cloak" is real, the "dagger" never was.

During Mozart's final summer his financial prospects were looking rosy. He had two new operas nearing production, La Clemenza di Tito and The Magic Flute. Plus, while wishing bon voyage to a London-bound “Papa” Haydn, the previous December Mozart had received an offer to headline an English concert series of his own.

That July a stranger knocked at Mozart's door to commission a requiem on behalf of an anonymous benefactor. Mozart accepted, collecting a generous fee up front, but his operas took precedence, and his Clarinet Concerto and Little Freemason Cantata would interrupt in the fall.

Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the September premiere of Tito, most likely from failing kidneys. Returning home, the unusually cold Vienna autumn hastened his decline, and his symptoms included occasional delirium. Constanza, the composer's beloved Frau and confidante, never believed his delusions, but reported her husband sometimes had convinced himself he'd been poisoned, and that the mysterious stranger was a supernatural emissary of Death ordaining the Requiem for Mozart’s own funeral. Mozart worked feverishly to complete his last masterpiece, but became bedridden on November 20. This time Death did knock. Uninvited, it entered just before one-o'clock in the early hours of December 5, 1791.

Mozart's physicians made clear foul play was not indicated. Even so, persistent rumors involving poison were widespread, and the favorite suspect became Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), Vienna's chief court musician. In 1830, Aleksandr Pushkin wrote Mozart and Salieri, a play Rimsky-Korsakov turned into an opera in 1897. Pushkin also inspired Peter Shaffer's Amadeus (play: 1979; film: 1984). Where the Russians portray Salieri as a murderer outright, Shaffer casts him as the cloaked stranger who commissions the Requiem hoping to present it as his own work–-only the would-be murderer is thwarted when Mozart dies before it's finished.

Documents surfaced in the 1960s revealing the commission actually came from Count Franz von Walseggt, who wanted a memorial for his recently-deceased countess. Known to pass off others' compositions as his own, the Count had sent his valet to meet with Mozart.

With the commission unfulfilled, Constanza feared she would have to refund the payment. Fortunately, Mozart had finished the Introitus, and left a detailed short-score through the Hostias (except for a fragmentary Lacrimosa), together with instructions to repeat music from the Introitus and Kyrie for the final Communio. He also had discussed and sung through the score with Franz Süssmayr, among others. Although Süssmayr was not her first choice, Constanza ultimately solicited the 25-year-old to complete the Requiem.

Süssmayr had to work slapdash to fulfill the commission, and almost from the start his contribution was criticized for shoddy part-writing and clumsy orchestration. In 1972, German musicologist Franz Beyer prepared a new edition correcting the obvious problems. Beyer’s edition repeats the closing “hosanna” phrases in the Sanctus and Benedictus overcome the abruptness of Süssmayr's original, but otherwise allows us to share the same music heard by listeners of the first complete performances.

While reworking the Requiem in the mid-1980s for a different edition, Richard Maunder determined the Agnus Dei is paraphrased from Mozart's “Sparrow” Mass; others have noted similarities between the opening of Süssmayr’s Sanctus with the Dies irae. How much, if any, direct guidance Mozart provided for these we likely will never know. But we do know Süssmayr deserves our thanks for bringing forward Mozart's last testament of undeniable genius.

Clair Omar Musser: Etude in C Major for Marimba, Op. 6, no. 10
As a young teenager Clair Omar Musser (1901–1998) heard a marimba band from Honduras at the 1915 World's Fair in San Francisco, and following this discovery he developed into one of history's most influential mallet artists, with tremendous successes as performer, teacher, and instrument manufacturer. Generally credited with introducing the instrument to American audiences, Musser formed a marimba orchestra that gained international fame, and as a percussion professor at Northwestern University his revolutionary innovations in mallet technique were passed on to future generations. Musser's Etudes were written to help his students overcome specific performance problems, and the Etude in C Major, Op. 6, no. 10, one of his best-known works, provides an early example of the use of four-mallet technique.

--Music @ Main, March, 2009 (Tony Steve, marimba)

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