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8.550119 - MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 29, 30 and 38
Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony in A Major, K. 201
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the second surviving child and onIy surviving son of Leopold Mozart, a violinist and composer in the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. The boy was taught by his father, who in 1756 had published his famous book on violin-playing and enjoyed something of a reputation both for this and for his wider cultural interests, typical of the new generation of musicians of the mid-eighteenth century. By the age of six Mozart had shown such obvious ability that his father resolved to dedicate himself to the furthering of what seemed a God-given talent. Tours followed, to Munich, Vienna and the imperial palace at Schönbrunn, to Pressburg (the modern Bratislava), and in 1763 to Paris and to London. The greater part of Mozart's childhood passed in this way, as he and his elder sister Anna-Maria performed at the keyboard, and the boy, at least, set himself to the concomitant experience of composition, learning eagerly not only from his father but from the very distinguished musicians that he met on his travels.
In 1769 Mozart, accompanied by his father, made the first of his three extended visits to Italy, honoured by the Pope with the title Knight of the Golden Spur and instructed in Bologna by the doyen of Italian composers, Padre Martini. He was to return to Italy in the autumn of 1771 for the performance of his stage-work Ascanio in Alba in Milan, where the opera Lucio Silla was commissioned for the following year, and where hopes of permanent employment at the court of the imperial governor, a son of the Empress, proved illusory. The decade was to bring Mozart little satisfaction. He and his father continued to entertain material ambitions that Salzburg could never satisfy, particularly since the death of the old Archbishop in December, 1771, and the succession of a more modern churchman, sympathetic to the reforms that Joseph II was to institute in ecclesiastical affairs.
In 1777 Mozart left the archiepiscopal service, the only way he could now secure the freedom to travel as he wished, while his father chose to retain the necessary security of his employment at Salzburg, where, since 1763, he had held the position of Vicekapellmeister, the summit of his career. Accompanied by his mother, a homely woman who exercised no authority over her son, he visited Munich, spent time with his father's relations in Augsburg, dawdled hopefully in Mannheim, where his association with the young singer AIoysia Weber suggested dreams of successful concert tours together, and finally reached Paris. He found France and the French aristocracy little to his liking and failed to make the kind of impression that his earlier visits as an infant prodigy had excited. In June his mother died, and in September he began to make his way slowly back to Salzburg, where he was to be reinstated, remaining a reluctant servant of the archbishop until a final quarrel and breach during the course of a visit to Vienna in 1781.
The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna, in independence of his father and of a patron. As a performer he aroused immediate interest, which he met for a time by an astonishing series of piano concertos, while as a composer he achieved successes in a form denied him in provincial Salzburg, with a popular German opera in 1782, followed by The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and then Cosi fan tutte. In 1791, the year of his death, his fortunes, which had waned materially as Vienna became accustomed to his presence, seemed to have turned. In that year he wrote an opera for the coronation of the new Emperor in Prague - from Vienna there had been no such commission - and in the later autumn his German opera The Magic Flute was staged in a suburban theatre in the capital to general approval. By the end of the year he was dead, leaving material ambitions unrealised and the Requiem, about which he had had moments of superstitious fear, incomplete.
The splendid Symphony in A Major, K. 201, was completed in Salzburg on 6th April, 1774, its composition falling, therefore, between his return from a brief visit to Vienna in the autumn of 1773 and a journey to Munich at the end of 1774 for the staging of his new opera La finta giardiniera. The symphony is scored for the traditional orchestra of strings, with pairs of oboes and French horns, and is in the usual four movements.
The Symphony in D Major, K. 202, bears the date 5th May, 1774, and is, therefore, also a product of a materially fallow period in Salzburg. It is scored for the usual orchestral forces, with the addition of a pair of trumpets - trombe lunghe, in the composer's autograph.
The Prague Symphony belongs to the last decade of Mozart's life and was completed in Vienna on 6th December, 1786, to be given its first performance at the Prague National Theatre on 19th January in the following year. The Bohemian capital had always held Mozart in special regard and during the composer's visit the concert at which the symphony was played included Mozart's keyboard improvisations, one on a theme from Figaro, a performance of which he directed two days later. It was for Prague that he was to compose the opera Don Giovanni in 1787, the year of the symphony, which seems to have formed part of the memorial programme in the presence of Mozart's widow and son Karl in 1794.
Known sometimes as the symphony without a Minuet, containing only three movements, the Symphony in D Major, K. 504, calls for an orchestra that includes pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, timpani and strings.
In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal Ballet Companies as Guest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. He also continued to work with New Sadlers Wells Opera, with whom he has recorded excerpts from Kalman's Countess Maritza and Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg and The Merry Widow. For the Naxos label Wordsworth recorded a number of Mozart and Haydn symphonies, works by Smetana and Dvorák and for the Marco Polo label works by Bax.
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