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2.110309 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - CZECH REPUBLIC: A Musical Visit to Prague and Lednice Castle (NTSC)

A Musical Visit to Prague and Lednice Castle in The Czech Republic
With music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart




The churches and palaces, and other public buildings of Prague are seen through the morning mist. There follow views of the entrance to the Castle, the exterior of the Gothic Cathedral, and the great River Vltava, as it flows through the city.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 38 in D major, ‘The Prague’, K. 504 – I. Adagio –Allegro

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. The symphony is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with strings. The first movement opens with a slow introduction, leading to an Allegro.


Prague: Castle and Cathedral

Prague Castle dates in origin from the 9th century but has been rebuilt a number of times over the years. The castle compound includes St Vitus Cathedral, two other churches, a monastery and a palace. The Cathedral of St Vitus was started in 1344 under the rule of John of Luxemburg and further developed over the centuries. There are notable examples of modern Czech stained glass, with a window by Alfons Mucha and a rose window by František Kysela. There is remarkably fine fan vaulting in the nave. The Golden Portal was once the main entrance to the building, which contains the tomb of St Wenceslas.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 38 in D major, ‘The Prague’, K. 504 – II. Andante

Known sometimes as the symphony without a minuet, containing only three movements, the Symphony in D Major, K. 504, follows contemporary custom by dispensing with trumpets and drums in its G major slow movement.


Prague: Vltava River

The River Vltava (Moldau), widely known through Smetana’s musical picture of the river, winds its way through the countryside of Bohemia to the capital city, the great buildings of Prague reflected in its waters. The river flows through the centre of Prague and over the years has often caused severe flooding. Its course is interrupted by several weirs and crossed by various bridges, notably the Charles Bridge, with its statuary, joining the Old Town with the so-called Little Quarter Side.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 38 in D major, ‘The Prague’, K. 504 – III. Finale: Presto

The symphony ends with a tripartite sonata-form movement.


Southern Moravia: Lednice Castle – Exterior

A summer residence of the Princes of Liechtenstein, Lednice was originally, in the 17th century, a Renaissance villa. It was remodelled in Baroque style in the 18th century, with the help of Fischer von Erlach and Domenico Martelli. The castle took its present form in the mid-19th century, when it was rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style under Georg Wingelmüller. From the windows of the castle a folly can be seen, a slender minaret.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 30 in D major, K. 202 – I. Molto allegro

Symphony No. 30 in D major, K. 202, bears the date 5th May, 1774, and is the product of a relatively fallow compositional period for Mozart in Salzburg. In the autumn of 1773 he had made a brief visit to Vienna, where he and his father renewed their friendship with Dr Mesmer, the propagator of what became known as ‘mesmerism’. An audience with the Empress brought no positive result. At the end of 1774 Mozart was in Munich for the staging of his opera La finta giardiniera, but in Salzburg, between whiles, he remained now as a concert-master in the Archiepiscopal musical establishment. The symphony is scored for the usual orchestral forces, pairs of oboes and horns, with strings, with the addition of a pair of trumpets – trombe lunghe, in the composer's autograph – and opens with the expected sonata-allegro movement.


Southern Moravia: Lednice Castle – Interior

The interior of Lednice Castle is decorated and furnished in the expected Neo-Gothic style.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 30 in D major, K. 202 – II. Andantino con moto

The A major slow movement of the symphony is scored for strings alone.


Southern Moravia: Lednice Castle – Grounds

The minaret, a folly, is an outstanding feature of gardens laid out in the so-called English style, a sort of planned disorder.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 30 in D major, K. 202 – III. Menuetto

The Minuet, for the whole ensemble, has a contrasting G major Trio for strings alone.


Southern Moravia: Lednice Castle

The castle is seen once more from the grounds outside, with details of its Neo-Gothic decorative sculpture, its statues and lively gargoyles.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 30 in D major, K. 202 – IV. Presto

The symphony ends with a lively finale that ends almost too abruptly, after a very brief coda.


Prague: Strahov Monastery • Villa Bertramka

Memories of Mozart are found at the Strahov Monastery, where he once played on the organ. The monastery has a valuable collection of books from a monastery in Moravia that was later dissolved and 17th century astronomical globes by William Blaeu. In the Thoelogical Hall there is also a late Gothic statue of St John the Evangelist. Mozart’s association with Prague was a happy one and he found here a ready audience for his music. In 1787 he wrote his opera Don Giovanni for Prague, working finally on the overture in a garden-house at the Villa Bertramka, where he and his wife stayed as guests of the composer František Dušek. The villa houses a small Mozart museum.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 32 in G major, K. 318 – I. Allegro spiritoso – Andante – Primo Tempo

Mozart’s Symphony in G major, K. 318, is dated 26th April, 1779, in Salzburg, its composition marking Mozart’s return from his abortive expedition to Paris in search of better employment than Salzburg could offer and his reinstatement in the service of his father’s patron, the Archbishop. The work is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, trumpets and drums, four horns and strings, and is in the form of a theatre overture. Alfred Einstein suggested that the piece was written specifically for the unfinished Singspiel later to be known as Zaide, detecting in the themes the leading figures, Sultan Soliman and the heroine Zaide, and a love idyll in the central Andante. Others have proposed a different purpose, possibly for a comedy or operetta performed in Salzburg by the company of Johannes Boehm, which was in the town in 1779 and 1780. Whether we imagine a Turkish element in the Allegro spiritoso or a scene of love in the middle section, with its delightful use of wind instruments, the work shows clearly enough something of the effect that his visit to Mannheim and Paris had had on Mozart’s orchestral writing.

Keith Anderson

Capella Istropolitana conducted by Barry Wordsworth Nos. 38 & 30 [Naxos 8.550119] • No. 32 [Naxos 8.550113]

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