Interview January 2020: 10 Questions with L. Samama


Leo Samama: Official Sites
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Leo Samama: Leo Samama (Donemus)

Leo Samama: CD Albums
Leo Samama: I fear not wave nor wind!
Leo Samama: Fresh, sweet & sturdy
Leo Samama: En Hollande

1. In 2003 you published, with Arie Peddemors, the book Mozart and the Netherlands. A Bicentenarian Retrospect, an important and interesting collection of various scholarly papers on the multifarious aspects of the relationship Mozart and The Netherlands from 1765/1766 to the 21st Century. Can you tell us about the story behind the preparation of this beautiful book? What is the origin? What the process of selection and choice of papers and sections? What is the relation with the authors?

Arie Peddemors, then president of the Nederlandse Mozartvereniging, called me at a certain moment with the question to help him with the preparation of this book. I knew him since the early nineties, when he asked me to lecture together with professor Marius Flothuis and other colleagues at the yearly Mozart Week in Zeist. For the book, Peddemors had already approached several musicologists (mostly contributors of the Pro Mozart Magazine) to send in recent papers or the texts of recent lectures.

One of the best-known specialists of the music of Mozart, Marius Flothuis, whom I knew suite quite well since my early childhood, died two years before, in 2001, and left his research on Mozart’s Requiem, and the articles Joseph – Wolfgang – Michael [on Mozart and the Haydn Brothers] and Amadeus at his best – According to Mozart to us to edit if necessary. Only the text on Mozart’s Requiem needed some thorough editing.

Most other authors were (and still are) colleagues and friends, all noted specialists in the field of Mozart research: among them the pianists Bart van Oort and Frans Schreuder (Epta Frans Schreuder PrizeEpta Honorary Members), the musicologists Bastiaan BlomhertNancy van der Elst and Paul van ReijenJan Jaap HaspelsEmile Wennekes, and Rudolf Angermüller.




Thus, the choice was in fact rather simple. The topics were partly new, partly the result of many years of editing Pro Mozart. Most of the lay-out for the book was done by Arie Peddemors, who was also a specialist in lists – he had quite a collection of these, not only with all Mozart’s compositions, and all recordings of a certain piece by Mozart, but also cities visited, books on specific topics, etc. I was in charge of the final editing of the main articles, Arie Peddemors of the lists and additions to these.

We were of course lucky to have been able to organise regular lectures on Mozart during our festival week in Zeist, and professor Flothuis had been writing on Mozart since the late 1930s. Peddemors, in fact, was the only person contributing to Mozart and The Netherlands who was not trained in music, although he was by all means a fanatic music lover, a fine amateur pianist and a professional archaeologist.


Leo Samama (b. 1951) graduated from the University of Utrecht in Musicology and studied composition and orchestral conducting. Samama taught History of Music and Culture at the Utrecht Conservatory 1977-1988, Musical criticism in theory and practice at the Royal Conservatory The Hague 1987-1988 and Music of the Twentieth Century and Musical Criticism at Utrecht University 1988-1991. He was a critic for De Volkskrant 1978-1984, a correspondent for the NRC Handelsblad 1986-1990.
Leo Samama sat on the board of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as the orchestra’s artistic advisor 1988-1994 and as artistic administrator (2001); 1991-1993 he was head of the orchestra’s artistic department. 1988-1993, he was artistic adviser to the Centrum Nederlandse Muziek, an organisation specialising in the promotion of Dutch music, and 1992-1994 an advisor to the NCRV broadcasting company. He was head of the artistic department of the Residentie Orchestra The Hague 1996-2003 and its artistic administrator since 2004, and general manager of the Netherlands Chamber Choir 2003-2010. He is co-founder of the Netherlands String Quartet Academy and the European network for professional chamber choirs TENSO. Samama has given radio broadcasts and guest lectures all over the country and throughout Europe.
As a musicologist he has written books on diverse topics. His study on Dutch music in the 20th Century (1986, 2006) is a standard. Samama’s books The Meaning of Music (2014, 2016), The String Quartet (2018) and Alphons Diepenbrock, A Vocal Composer (2012) have been hugely successful. In the Netherlands, some eighty hours of university lectures have been recorded and released on CD and streaming audio. As a composer he has written over one hundred works, that have been performed all over the world, recorded on radio and CD.
In 2010 Leo Samama was knighted as an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau for his contribution to Dutch musical life.


a. Publications (read/download .pdf)

b. Compositions (read/download .pdf)

c. Leo Samama’s Official Site:
1. Leo Samama Composer
2. Leo Samama Musicologist
3. Leo Samama Lectures

A. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
Piano Sonata No.2, opus 36, “En Voyage”, performed by Ronald Brautigam, recorded by NCRV Radio, 1991

B. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
En Hollande, Opus 56, for soprano and string quartet, has been recorded here by Nienke Oostenrijk and the Daniel Quartet. The text has been taken from Verlaine’s Quinze jours en Hollande.






Leo Samama talks about the Fontys Academy of Music and Performing Arts
(in Dutch with English subtitles)

2. You have worked also as general editor of Pro Mozart Magazine, the official magazine of Dutch Mozart Society. Can you tell us about this activity? How it started and how it was carried on through the years. You have also published Mozart: A lecture about his life and work for Home Academy : what is your interest in Mozart as a man and a composer and what is your vision of him, within the context of the 1st Vienna School (for Home Academy you have produced also lectures on Beethoven and Schubert)?

Unfortunately, I can be quite short about this first item. I have been asked only a few times to take over the final editing of Pro Mozart. In the years 1999 – 2006. Arie Peddemors was so busy with his own research as an archaeologist and as the new president of the Nederlandse Mozart-Vereniging, that he asked me to help him. However, I was as busy as he was, in my case as of 2001 as the artistic administrator ad interim of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and since 2004 of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, with Evgenii Svetlanov as our chief-conductor. Thus, we split a bit all work. Peddemors choose the articles or the lectures to be converted by the authors into articles, and I did the final editing of the texts.

By the way, the recorded university lectures (all in Dutch!) came a bit later, from 2006 onwards, starting indeed with four hours on Mozart (2006 was a Mozart year!), and reaching in 2019 (in December) some 80 hours on a different composers (life and works) and diverse philosophical topics.





My interest in Mozart dates from my early childhood years and is quite private too. In 1957, when I was 6 years old, the lady living opposite of our house was dying. She was in those days a famous Hammerklavier performer, Alice Heksch, specialized in Mozart’s music. Her children stayed in my parents’ house during the day, in order not to disturb their mother too much. In those same days my parents had given me a recording of Mozart’s life told for children by a famous French actor, Gérard Philippe. The recording was called La vie de Mozart and it told in detail also the death of young Mozart’s mother, in Paris 1778. With underneath the music of the Piano Sonata in A minor. For decades, the combination of someone dying and this dramatic music could not be separated… Later when I was eleven a received another essential Mozart recording, that is still with me: Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor performed by Sviatoslav Richter.


Mozart was a unique composer, especially since for us he seems to have been the ultimate genius, who like an angel could compose without much effort…

… At least, that is the 19th Century image we have made of him. In reality Mozart was – like Beethoven and Schubert – a very hard worker, who, as Haydn once said to his father, had an incredible knowledge of the science of music, and who knew himself he had accomplished this knowledge on a level very few would ever reach.

Mozart was a composer living on the brink of an aristocratic and a bourgeois society, who was well aware that without a fixed job on some court (by preference in one of the capitals of Europe), he had to forge a bond with a rather unknown audience of mostly laymen who did not ask for his music, but had to pay for the tickets to go to his concerts. For them he had to write music that kept the middle between head and heart, meant for Kenner und Nichtkenner, as his father advised him. Exactly that makes his music, that is so much imbedded into the world of opera (also his string quartets and sonatas are opera), still today expressive and dramatic, alive and intriguing. He was in fact the first romantic composer, the first who knew how to get hold of an audience of more or less anonymous Nichtkenner.

Haydn did the same in London with his symphonies and in Vienna with his oratorios. Beethoven made even a clear division between music for a dedicated audience of aristocrats and Kenner (the sonatas and quartets) and for the general laymen (most symphonies and the concertos).

Although Mozart and Haydn influenced each other mutually, and Beethoven received Mozart’s spirit out of the hands of Haydn (as count Waldstein advised him to do), all three were equally influenced by a multitude of other composers, predecessors and contemporaries alike. Many of these influences did not come from Vienna at all, but from the Balkan (Haydn), Italy, France and Southern Germany (Mozart), from France and Italy (Beethoven), from Moravia, Bohemia and Germany (Schubert).

Thus, the first Vienna School does not exist; it is, as so much, an invention of late 19th Century musicology!

3. So true! It is a fact that Mozart and Haydn, already in 1786, were publicly considered like the Klopstock and the Gellert of music. This parallel drawn between the two couples of artists had a fundamental normative meaning for its time. As a matter of fact, Gellert (1715-1769) and then Klopstock (1724-1803) had fundamentally changed and developed the German language, by creating new literary, linguistic and artistic standards and models that would be carried on and further refined by Schiller, Goethe, and others. Therefore the identification Haydn=Gellert and Mozart=Klopstock meant that Haydn (the so called London snuffbox!) and Mozart (the so called Paris snuffbox!) were already considered themselves normative models for music, and not only in Austria or in the German Nations but also in a much wider European context (and in the case of Haydn we well know what London snuffbox really meant!). At this point, perhaps, the term Haydn & Mozart Era (or Mozart & Haydn Era) may be, probably, a better choice… 

In your book Mozart and the Netherlands. A Bicentenarian Retrospect (2003) you published an extremely interesting article on the treatment of music fragments/style derived from Mozart’s music by other composers after 1791 on and with a detailed analysis of this kind of treatment by the composers and the contemporary composers of the 20th century and you yourself pointed out that this matter has really many multiple facets and that there were certainly still many things to say on this subject. Now, after 16 years, in 2019/2020, what is your vision of the treatment and re-use of Mozart’s music and style in the production of contemporary music?

Again, the answer is in the mentioned article itself.

Since the late 1980s the whole idea of avantgarde (dodecaphonic, serialist, postserialist, aleatoric, etc.) was slowly demolished by neo-romantic, neo-tonal and new age music. Or as Adorno would have said: regression (when he mentioned Stravinsky versus Schönberg).

Of course, Mozart is still there; and his music is still an important influence on many composers, however not stylistically, but technically: every tone counts, all material should be used ad fundum, never write what can’t be heard, always be expressive (composing is communicating!), tell stories not theories.

The use of quotations and allusions is not en vogue in our days anymore. Or maybe I should formulate this differently: the old rules of unity of time, place and action do not exist anymore in contemporary music. Composers allude, quote and mix styles and techniques as freely as they wish…

…The one single highway in the arts during many centuries has been replaced by a multitude of roads and routes.

The one single certainty one had regarding the development of music (e.g. from Haydn to Mozart to Beethoven and on via Schubert and Schumann to Brahms) seems to have been a sign of partial blindness and has been replaced in the late 20th Century by many different certainties, a labyrinth of possibilities, each of them equally true and equally important. Generally, we use for this situation the denominator postmodern, although that too is a mere invention of researchers and not of the artists themselves.

What I wrote in my article on the treatment of Mozart’s music by composers before 1980 is in 2019 a document of no more than historical value. But the philosophical basis is still useful: all art is the result of the world we live in, which is the result of what we have made of that world. We humans make the world that makes us… Thus, all art is political, is part of the politeia. That was one of the results of a study far larger than only the chapter on Mozart that I wrote in the late 1980s, covering the art of referring in music (oeuvre de reférence) philosophically and historically, and finally all the way until the late 1980s (including the music of among others Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Luciano Berio, George Rochberg and Alfred Schnittke).

C. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
This piece is a prequel to either the Brahms Serenade, which I arranged for winds, or the Dvorak Serenade for winds. Performance by the Netherlands Wind Ensemble.

D. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
Concertante for viola, flute, string orchestra and percussion, performed by Yuko Inoue with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under Otto Ketting, 1983.





4. As a contemporary composer you have written many works. Among them there are also a few which may have, curiously, a direct link to Mozart or Haydn (at least, in the choice of the instruments): your Clarinet Concerto Op. 74, Clarinet Quintet Op. 51 and the String Quartets Op. 59, Op. 79, Op. 85; and in the CD Fresh, Sweet & Sturdy your composition Syrènes Op. 87 was chosen with works by Haydn and Gershwin. In 1982 you also published a book on Beethoven’s piano sonatas: do you think Mozart, Beethoven and the 1st Vienna School (or, better, as we have seen before, the Haydn & Mozart Era) may have had also a role in your being a contemporary composer and in your music? What are your projects for the future? And what is the importance of The Netherlands in your work as a scholar and as a contemporary composer?

On the first point my answer is quite elementary: that was purely coincidental and not a choice…

… My writing for the clarinet or for string quartet was simply the result of commissions by clarinettists and by string quartets. And Mozart and his music had no deal in these decisions. Nor does my saxophone quartet have any relation with either Haydn or Gershwin. Of course, sometimes I do try to bring different ideas and techniques together, especially in my earlier works until the early 1990s, where I have used quotes and allusions as so many of my contemporaries have done in the second half of the 20th Century.

However, if we really want to discern influences in music, then probably those of Frank Martin and Benjamin Britten (both from my teens), Olivier Messiaen (who was for many years a mentor and dear friend), my composition teacher Rudolf Escher and mentor around 1970, Bruno Maderna.
From the great composers of the past (even Josquin, Palestrina, Monteverdi, but certainly also Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Schubert) I learned to always be expressive, to communicate in my music, to follow my own voice and use my material as economical as possible.

E. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
De solitude en solitude was composed in 1999 for the Leo Smit Stichting and dedicated to Eleonore Pameijer and Jeff Hamburg. The live performance is by Nienke Oostenrijk (soprano), Eleonore Pameijer (flute), Doris Hochscheid (cello), and Frans van Ruth (piano).

F. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
The Concerto was written in 2005 for André Kerver and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (Orkest van het Oosten) and premiered that same year under Valery Petrenko.

G. Leo Samama on SoundCloud
The Triptico for two guitars was written in 1978 and consists of three movements: Planh, Canzon and Danza. This recording has been made by the Groningen Guitar Duo, still one of the most lovely performance of this piece.




The book on the Piano Sonatas by Beethoven was meant for the Beethoven cycle by Alfred Brendel at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw during the 1982/83 season. It was at same time the program book for these concerts and published for use outside the concert hall. However, the book was soon sold out and remained out of stock. Therefore, I have decided to rewrite and enlarge this book for 2020, for the Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary (1770-2020). After nearly forty years…




As I explained above my work as a musicologist has only little influence on my work as a composer, with one exception, that I had the opportunity as a musicologist to meet and speak many composers of name around the world, write about their music and thus learned by far more about music than any musicological education could ever have offered. The other way around was as well the case: as a composer my view on music is always from the inside, from the point of view of a composer, and not so much from the point of view of theorists and musicologists who have seldom tried their hand on writing music themselves.

Part of this can be read not only in my books on composers or genres, but also in my personal philosophy of music, recorded in my book The Meaning of Music. Among my plans for the future are a sequel to this book, but also a book on the Lied, as a sequel to previous books as the Solo Concerto and The String Quartet (both written in Dutch). As a composer I mostly write what people ask me to write. Thus, for the next few years a handful of pieces are somewhere developing in my head. I hope that my busy schedule as a lecturer and as a member of diverse boards in the musical world, provide enough time to do what I am still dreaming of.

Finally, The Netherlands as such have no importance for my music. Of course, Dutch musicians do. But the general attitude by the Dutch government towards music in The Netherlands is rather negative and condescending. Compared to 20 years ago, the situation is even quite demoralizing. My own education and cultural background are more European than Dutch, being of mixed Tunisian, French, Italian and Dutch parentage, having been educated mixed Dutch and French, and having studied in the USA too. But as an artistic manager and founder of organisations in the field of music, I am of course quite Dutch, with a preference of building instead of dreaming only.

Samama Fellowship with Holland Baroque 2019/2020

Holland Baroque is an international ensemble based in The Netherlands playing over 60 concerts a year in Holland and abroad. We invite guests such as Giovanni Sollima, Reinbert de Leeuw, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Alexis Kosssenko Hidemi Suzuki, Amandine Beyer and others.

Baroque music is the key, but we build bridges to other musical styles.

Several trainees have found their place as regular players in the ensemble or join the orchestra on a regular base since Holland Baroque started to offer this Training Course. Joining the Training Course is a chance to get to know the ensemble as well as improving your own skills and deepening your career as baroque musician.

Other projects by Leo Samama:
a. Netherlands String Quartet Academy (co-founder)
b. European network for professional chamber choirs TENSO (co-founder)
c. 150 Psalms & 150 Psalms Utrecht






Gramophone Article on Leo Samama




5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

I have no favourite works by any composer, or better said: my favourite is virtually always the last piece I have heard.

A favourite work by a great composer feels like denying the other works to be favourites too. It is like children. None of them is your favourite, and all are!

However, I love Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte (and on 26 January 2020 we celebrate its 230th Anniversary!) and I am in awe for the finale of his Symphony in C (Jupiter), and Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major next to Die Schöpfung.





6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

Not particularly… However, the music of composers like Jiri Benda, Jean-Joseph de Mondonville and Martin Kraus certainly should be more often performed!

Mozart loved Benda (during his journey in the Netherlands Mozart received a much appreciated gift: G. Benda’s Harpsichord Sonatas in printed edition), and Kraus was in many ways a Mozartian with his richly lyrical music.

The music of Mondonville, as many others in those days, prove that what we call the Viennese classical tradition was in reality quite international, as Mozart’s music was not so much Viennese but above all European!





7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

More in general Haydn’s operas [here Dorati’s Vol. 1 & Vol. 2] and Dutch music of the 18th Century, e.g. Unico Willem van Wassenaer and Christian Ernst Graf (or: Graaf) [see CD Albums infra].

19th Century and early 20th Century researchers have blocked quite often our view on music by bold and even narrow-minded visions of what great music should be.

Thus, much fine music was put aside for being minor or not Mozart, but even Mozart’s own music was filtered, declaring Don Giovanni more important than Così fan tutte, or the Piano Concertos in D minor and C minor more important than late B flat Concerto

The same holds for lesser known composers of the later 18th Century in The Netherlands, England, Russia or Spain… As if all classical music could only originate from Vienna…

C.E. Graaf, Symphony






8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

The Mozart biography by Wolfgang Hildesheimer is quite exceptional.

Apart from this I haven’t read much specific and/or recent books about the period.

I compile my information from a multitude of books and texts, by preference sources written in the times of Mozart: letters, diaries, reviews, theory books, and so much more.

Very interesting is Nannerl Mozarts Tagebuchblätter edited by Walter Hummel.





9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Generally, the movie Amadeus is still the most interesting survey, even with some historical mistakes.

In Search of Mozart will certainly help understanding the composer and his times, as well as several movies like Nannerl, la Soeur de Mozart or Liaisons dangereuses, or The Duchess.



Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart (2011)

Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

The Duchess (2008)

10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

Apart from Vienna, virtually every city visited by Mozart: Olmütz, Paris, London, The Hague, Mannheim, München, Prague, Bologna, Milano, Rome…

These cities are also proof of Mozart’s place in European culture.

He was a true internationalist!


Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!


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Interview April 2020: 10 Questions with A. Holub


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1. What’s your relationship with and what’s your view on Mozart’s music? How can you describe your musical journey with Mozart’s music and when did it start? You come from a family with great talents for the arts: has this influenced you in your artistic choices? Do you think that your Graz and Austrian origin has determined a particular type of approach to Mozart?

My first important live musical experiences were a concert with Eugen Jochum and the Gewandhausorchester, as well as rehearsals in our living room of my mother’s jazz band when I was about 6 years old…

… I had started piano lessons at that time and was already interested in the practical aspects of music making.

Apart from that, there was always music in our home: my father was an architect and encouraged his employees to listen to music while they were working and when he was alone in the office during weekends, he listened to classical music as a creative inspiration. My parents had excellent artistic taste and we had a huge collection of high quality classical, jazz and flamenco music recordings.

Mozart was somehow always there, first in easy piano pieces, then in the piano scores of some of the piano concertos my father bought for my mother and which I then started to practice. And of course in many recordings, mainly sonatas and concertos with Friedrich Gulda who is until today one of the most inspiring pianists for me.

I know now, 30 years later, that Austrian music education and tradition – and our everyday culture, landscape and architecture which, I believe, have preserved much of the character of previous times – had a massive influence on how I see and feel music…

… One of the most important elements of our music instruction was that you were encouraged to experience music as a language, that each single note «speaks» and that you had to find out why.

Analysis of musical structures was, from an early age onwards, an important part of training, and I had the privilege to be taught by some extraordinary music theory teachers: Franz Cibulka, Andrzej Dobrowolski, Peter Revers and… Georg Friedrich Haas.

I do not have favourite composers, I prefer to speak about favourite works. The written music is for me much more important than the personality of a composer and does not necessarily reflect the character of its creator…

… Many of my favourite works are by Mozart and I feel in his music a connection to the origins of creativity that I rarely experience in other artists. Mozart described himself mainly as an opera composer and his stage works are for me definitely the pinnacle of his achievements…

… He is at his best when there is a musical conversation happening, and therefore I consider his concertos, mainly of course the piano concertos, as superior examples of inspiration.

Compared to Haydn and Beethoven, Mozart was not a natural symphonic composer…

… This has to do with the structure of his music which is always more vocal than architectural,…

… nevertheless the transformation Mozart showed from his serenade-like early symphonies till the creative miracle of the last three masterworks is BREATH-TAKING!

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Beethoven 250th Anniversary 1770-2020








2. You have conducted many works by Beethoven and in January 2020 you also organized a special conducting masterclass dedicated to Beethoven for his 250 Anniversary (1770-2020). How do you perceive and how do you see the musical universe of Beethoven? Is it distant, also technically, from Mozart or not? You have also conducted many symphonies by Haydn and organized conducting masterclasses on Haydn’s symphonies: what’s your relationship with Haydn’s music? What do you like the most about Beethoven’s and Haydn’s music?

My decision to become a conductor was actually initiated by listening to a recording of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.

I was 12 and knew instantly: this is what I would like to do for the rest of my life, performing great music!

Beethoven is for me strongly connected to the French Revolution: the beginning of a new area, of a new view of humankind of itself, of a new consciousness, the awakening of human liberation.

He was the first financially fully independent composer, only living from the sale of his compositions or contributions of his benefactors…

… Additionally, he was an extremely educated person, philosophically and spiritually, from Plato to Kant and the Bhagavad Gita…


… And becoming deaf!

His work has an enormous effect on the listener, it awakens in you the same powers which pushed him to the limits of human creativity.

Imagine the world without his works and then you realize what a huge impact he had on – not only European – culture!

The problem with Beethoven interpretation is that his compositions are still rooted in Mozart’s and Haydn’s world – just practically, because he is using the instruments of the 18th Century – but goes, already in his early works, way beyond the capabilities of his time.

You can produce satisfying results on period instruments with works by Haydn and Mozart, with Beethoven you will soon reach the limits…

… I find especially performances of Beethoven’s piano works on fortepianos extremely unsatisfactory, they cannot project the power, colour and texture of his music.

The best way for me is to experiment with Beethoven’s music on historical instruments and then apply the findings on a performance with a modern orchestra. Beethoven’s music needs, in modern concert halls, a projection which only modern instruments are able to deliver. Exemplary for this approach was one of Claudio Abbado’s last concerts which I experienced live with the Orchestra Mozart…

… The repertoire was Beethoven’s Leonora Overture No. 2, Mozart’s Oboe Concerto and Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, on modern instruments, each single note breathing the composer’s inspiration. Therefore, for me performing Beethoven is always a challenge.

At one side, the music can easily speak for itself, as it probably did at the first performances 200 years ago.

… Just to give you an example, during my conducting masterclasses in London we have certainly rehearsed and performed the first movement of the 5th Symphony no less than 100 times, and even the least inspired and skilled rendition was always a strong musical and emotional experience!

At the other side, there is so much depth in his music that you are never finished exploring it.

Even my most favourite performances of Beethoven’s music, live and recorded – by Rubinstein, Kempff, Curzon, Gulda, Pollini, Zimerman, Brendel, A. Schiff, Pires or Toscanini, Leibowitz, Bernstein, Abbado, Gielen, Blomstedt, Norrington, Gardiner give only a glimpse of what would be possible…

Hence, do you focus on spontaneous, emotionally free flowing, inspired, authentic music making or on interpretational and textural sophistication?

The perfect Beethoven interpretation has never been achieved and that as well is part of the magic of his music.

Haydn originates from a different world. Haydn spent most of his early years as an employee and was very Catholic…

… His Paris and London symphonies are miracles of musical wisdom, surprising effects and structural creativity, nevertheless, his greatest compositions for me are his late Masses and the Creation

… In these works he does not give in to compromises and his musical language is astonishingly modern.

Achim Holub conducts Mozart, Symphony Linz, mvt 1 

Achim Holub conducts Mozart, Symphony Linz, mvt 4




3. Through the years and already beginning your career as a young conductor, you have worked with both Gardiner and Solti (at the Salzburg Festival!). How has the active collaboration on various projects with these two orchestra conductors been a source of inspiration for your life as a man and as an artist?

My relationship with John Eliot Gardiner goes back to 1991…

… and started with… Mozart!

He was giving a conducting masterclass at Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart and auditioned 60 conductors in Stuttgart and Berlin, the English Baroque Soloists playing at every session. I was then offered a place as an active participant for what turned out to be one of the most luxurious conducting courses in history: it was not only the English Baroque Soloists playing 2 sessions every day for 5 days, including 3 concerts, but also the complete cast of John Eliot’s Deutsche Grammophon Entführung-recording was working with us (I conducted Luba Orgonášová in Martern aller Arten at one of the concerts). Additionally to Robert Levin and Malcolm Bilson giving us lectures on Mozart interpretation! It was the best possible start into the world of highly professional music making and it opened for me and the other participants – a very young Ilan Volkov and Bernard Labadie were also among them – doors to a completely new experience.

Luba Orgonášová sings Martern aller Arten,
John Eliot Gardiner conducts Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K384 


I had from the beginning a very strong connection with John Eliot, he told me for instance that one is immediately able to see all my emotions in my face – something no one has told me before and which is an important talent for communicating musical information to fellow musicians. 18 months later he asked me to become his assistant with the NDR-Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg, preparing Messian’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum for the opening concert of the Schleswig-Holstein-Musik-Festival. That went well and our cooperation continued at many concerts and recordings for Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.

I owe John Eliot an enormous amount of experience and knowledge, not only how to rehearse with orchestras and singers – he is one of the greatest rehearsers in our present day classical music world – but also how to achieve outstanding results in recordings and deal with music business professionals.

My relationship with Georg Solti was completely different and, unfortunately, shorter. In 1992, I sent him a letter and CV in German, addressed Sehr geehrter Herr Solti – no Maestro, no Sir – asking him if there would be a possibility for me to be his assistant. A couple of weeks later I received a nice reply from his secretary telling me that Sir Georg was very impressed by my CV, but is unfortunately not able to offer a position of assistant. Nevertheless, he would like to meet me personally, inviting me to all of his rehearsals and concerts at the 1993 Salzburg Festival…

… It then turned out to be one of the personally most satisfying encounters with a famous colleague which I ever experienced, a relationship which intensified even more when I told Solti that my maternal grandfather had gone to school with him.

This kindness towards young colleagues was something which I came across very often with successful musicians from the elder generation, outstanding among many others the legendary Martha Mödl who invited me and a singer whom I was accompanying – after a session in which SHE was teaching for free – to one of the best Cafés in Munich for Kaffee und Apfelstrudel. Not to mention Ferdinand Leitner who invited me in the 90s every year to the Café Opera in Zürich, to ask how my career was going, or Claudio Abbado who gave a colleague and me a 30 minutes lesson on Beethoven 3rd piano concerto and the 7th symphony after a concert with the Vienna Philharmonic, ignoring everyone else…

Martha Mödl in Gluck, Che farò senza Euridice 

agint20dexdaI am happy that I met a generation of musicians who had no inhibitions to give: emotions, advice, time, drinks and food – to go back to your question – have been an enormous source of inspiration for my life. I am very sad that these values seem to have disappeared and it reminds me how important it is to remember that we all start with nothing and that other people always need our help and advice.

Achim Holub conducts Mozart’s Requiem K626:
Introitus & Dies Irae 

Achim Holub conducts Mozart’s Requiem K626:
Confutatis & Lacrimosa 

Achim Holub conducts Mozart’s Requiem K626:
Agnus Dei & Communio






4. You are well known for your various Series of Conducting Masterclasses you have organized through the years in collaboration with the London Classical Soloists, Masterclasses which have always had a great focus on Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. How do you see all these years dedicated to such a delicate and particular branch of teaching? What’s your very first tip to those young conductors who are your students? What’s your view on the Historically Informed Performance, especially for the music of the 18th & early 19th century? As a conductor who has been always working between Austria and London, you have a strong point of similarity with Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven: how do you see this? What are your projects for the future?

When you start your education to become a conductor you need several important foundations:
1) You do not need to be a super virtuoso, but you should be able to perform on your instrument – preferably piano, because it gives you the most comprehensive tools – on a high interpretational standard;
2) You will need a thorough theoretical education, in composition techniques and structural analysis because you will have to know exactly why a composer composed a work in a certain way;
3) And, most importantly, you will need a conducting technique of the highest standard with which you will be able to organize a performance and communicate your ideas as clearly and unambiguously as possible.

I had the incredible fortune and luck to learn from one the best conducting teachers of the late 20th century, Milan Horvat. He was not only a demanding and sometimes severe pedagogue, he was also – even more importantly – an incredibly proficient conductor who was able to show you the practical results of his teachings. Many of my fellow students, most prominently Fabio Luisi, made successful careers and we owe it to the sound professional education – not only by Horvat but also by our Opera professor Wolfgang Bozic who later became Generalmusikdirektor in Hanover – which we received in the late 1980s at the Graz Music University. Horvat expected from you to know the works inside out and was not complementary towards colleagues who did not conduct from memory. And till today, being able to conduct a work from memory is for me the unquestionable basis of conducting and interpreting on the maximum possible level.

The act of memorizing and understanding the composition process – because you will have to understand how a composer put together a work to be able to know it by heart – is essential for developing a close relationship to the music you are going to perform.

At some of my conducting courses in Austria, I made an interesting experiment, telling the participants that they will have to sing from memory the works they are going to conduct at the final concert. With this exercise, you will incarnate the music into your body and be able to communicate your ideas with complete ease and ingenuity. Everyone succeeded and the result and the playing of the orchestra was spectacular. During the last 13 years, I have met many highly gifted young colleagues and I am still in touch with many of them.

The winner of the competition of my first conducting course at Stift Admont, a monastery in the Styrian Alps, in 2007 was Daniel Cohen who is now making an impressive international career. Many other highly gifted students followed, most prominently the London January 2014 competition winner Mathieu Herzog, the long-time violist of the Quatuor Ébène and now very successful with his own chamber orchestra in Paris, and Matheu Kieswetter in South Africa who is doing an incredible work there with youth and professional orchestras.

Matheu Kieswetter conducts the London Classical Soloists
at Achim Holub’s Conducting Masterclasses in:
Beethoven, Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt.

I have also taught many talented female conductors, among them Karin Hendrickson and a strong group from Israel with Roit FeldenkreisYael Front and Yael Kedar.

Regarding Historically Informed Performance Practice I would like to quote Nikolaus Harnoncourt who said: «I want to know everything which you can know and then forget it».

I was not aware of the similarities between my career and those of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Many Austrian musicians used to live and are living in London, such as Alfred Brendel, Walter Klien, Heinrich Schiff and Walter Weller and we share many musical values with our British colleagues, most importantly the chamber-music-like approach to everything we are performing.

My projects for the future are exploring our planet as comprehensively as possible and, since I speak English and Spanish very well, not only working in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, but also tightening my relationships with North- and Latin-America, the UK and Spain…

… And maybe performing one day a Mozart piano concerto with one of my orchestras!

Many thanks for the opportunity to share my ideas!

Achim Holub conducts Mozart, K361 






5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

For Mozart: Die Zauberflöte. (see documents infra)

For Haydn: Die Schöpfung. (see documents infra)

Mozart & Die Zauberflöte (1791)
Some lesser known parts of Mozart’s letters from October 1791: Mozart happy for the great success of his opera Die Zauberflöte/The Magic Flute calls himself ‘von Mozart’ instead of simply ‘Mozart’, eats well, smokes a pipe of tobacco and works on his Clarinet Concerto.



Haydn & Die Schöpfung
(public premiere 19 March 1799; ca.180/400 musicians in orchestra&choir)
The huge success of the Oratorio in the accounts of a few eyewitnesses.


6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

Thomas Linley, the younger (1756–1778).

And this year 2020 is the 250th Anniversary of the famous meeting of a young Thomas Linley with a young Mozart in Florence in 1770 at Nardini’s!

A rare painting, representing Nardini with Linley and Mozart in 1770 in Florence (Italy).


From the memories of the opera singer M. Kelly, associate of the husband of a sister of Thomas Linley the Younger and, in 1786, first Don Curzio and Don Basilio in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.



7. By an amazing coincidence, Burney was travelling across Italy exactly in the same year 1770 and there personally met both the Mozarts and Thomas Linley. Burney had a great impression from them and wrote the famous sentence: «The Tommasino [i.e. Thomas Linley], as he is called, and the little Mozart, are talked of all over Italy, as the most promising geniuses of this age».

Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

I’d say again Linley, a work written in 1776:
Lyric Ode on the Fairies, Aerial Beings and Witches of Shakespeare

Thomas Linley the Younger,
from the Lyric Ode on Shakespeare
the No.16 (Chorus) What Howling Whirlwinds,
considered by many one of the first seeds of Romanticism in music.


8. It is certainly a bizarre fact that Mozart and Thomas Linley were both born in 1756, were both very young music geniuses, that they were both in Italy in 1770 and that both suffered a lot in 1778, with Mozart losing his mother in Paris during a very difficult stay and Linley dying in a boat accident.

If we think also that the composers J.M. Kraus (1756-1792), P. Wranitzky (1756-1808), T. Linley the Younger (1756-1778), W.A. Mozart (1756-1791) and the singer Franziska Danzi Lebrun (1756-1791) were all born in the same year 1756 and that in the same year Leopold published his famous Violin Manual, well… one should think that 1756 was really a very special year for Great Music…

8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

Peter Gülke: Der Triumph der neuen Tonkunst, Mozarts späte Sinfonien und ihr Umfeld (1998)



9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Regarding Mozart: Life and Loves of Mozart (German original title: Mozart), definitely kitsch, but much closer to reality than Amadeus, with one of Austria’s greatest actors, the Viennese Oskar Werner (1922-1984).

Life and Loves of Mozart, Full Movie 1h39 In English (1955) 

Curiously, in 1949 Oskar Werner had been also Beethoven’s own nephew Karl Beethoven in another Austrian film on Beethoven: Eroica.

Eroica, Full Movie 1h33 In German (1949)

And regarding Beethoven: John Eliot Gardiner’s South Bank Show of 1996 with priceless footage of a French Revolutionary amateur choir:

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:
Part 7:
Part 8:
Part 9:

In Part 5: the French Revolution Hymne a l’Agricolture &… Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony No. 6



10. It may be interesting to remember that the Austrian director Kolm-Veltée (who directed Eroica 1949) signed also a film version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Wiener Symphoniker Don Juan (1955) and a biopic on Schubert (1953).

Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

Schloss Eggenberg in Graz, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 365 exterior windows, 52 windows at the Piano Nobile, 24 State Rooms (still practically in their authentic and original 18th century organization) and a Planetary Garden:

This magnificent palace itself (de facto untouched since 1780s) is a great lesson of 18th century aesthetics for any musician: paintings and decorations, the Planetary, the classical mythology, the Japanese Cineserie.

the State Rooms: schloss-eggenberg/state-rooms
the Ceiling Decorations: schloss-eggenberg/ceiling-decorations
the Interios: schloss-eggenberg/interiors
the Osaka Folding Screen: schloss-eggenberg/osaka-folding-screen
the Palace Church: schloss-eggenberg/palace-church


agint20exda                                            ____________

Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt where Haydn composed and performed many of his early masterworks:

Schloss Esterházy Official Video: the Baryton, favourite instrument played by Prince Esterházy himself and for which Haydn wrote hundreds of splendid compositions.


As another homage to Graz, one may add the Graz Opera Theatre of 1776, which was among the first theatres to produce early performances of Mozart’s Operas (i.e. Le nozze di FigaroDie Entführung aus dem SerailDon Giovanni) in the 1780s/1790s, and a rare interesting document from the Historischen Verein für Steiermark on Mozart and Graz, also about the famous benefit concerts organized by Constanze Mozart in 1790s:




Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!



Copyright © 2020 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

CD Review June 2020: Ian Page’s Sturm und Drang Vol. 1


The choice of the 1759 tempest painting by Vernet as signature image for this CD, dedicated to the 1760s Sturm und Drang movement, has strong and meaningful Odyssiac implications, which may well go beyond the mere dimension of music…

bkekcup Ian Page & The Mozartists – Chiara Skerath

CD: Page: Sturm und Drang Vol. 1 (Signum Classics)

Ian Page (Official Site)
Founder, conductor & artistic
director of The Mozartists
& Classical Opera

Chiara Skerath (Official Site)
Swiss international soprano,
critically acclaimed Mozart singer &
Ian Page’s long time collaborator

The Mozartists (Official Site)

1. Ian Page’s great mosaic: Mozart 250 and his marvellous

2. Sturm und Drang and music: an introduction by Ian Page.

3. Why we can say Sturm und Drang.

4.The Mozartian The Tempest of 1791, the Shakespearean style
and the Mozartian beginning of the Romanticism.

5. The calligraphy of the scores of the period 1750/1780 and
Ian Page’s selection and interpretation.

6. Ian Page leads us through the first 1760s compositions of
Sturm und Drang.

A Gallery of Composers
a. Gluck: the beginning of Sturm und Drang in music with
Don Juan/Don Giovanni
b. Jommelli & Traetta: the magnificence of the Neapolitan
Music School
                   1. Jommelli’s music, ossia genius, spirit and fire!
                   2. Traetta’s opera chiaro ed oscuro and the fortune of

c. Beck: the avant-garde of Mannheim
d. Haydn: the powerful creative isolation of a genius
e. Jommelli’s and Traetta’s innovations and gratitude towards Ian Page and his collaborators

 7. Ian Page: establishing a tradition within style and

8. Conclusions.

    Appendix A:
Odyssey XII, The Sturm und Drang punishment of Ulysses by the
gods. ca. 1235-1184 BC

    Appendix B:
Alcaeus, fr. 34, The sea tempest and the Dioscuri.
ca. 620 BC

The sections 5 and 6 are part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the famous formative Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters.



… Such choice confers, to this Sturm und Drang Album, a peculiar nuance of investigation, that correctly depicts those multifarious artistic impulses and experiences that gave life, at the same time within different branches of the arts (music, literature and painting, in primis), to the so called various currents of the Sturm und Drang, of the Neo-Classicism and/or Classicism (with its, also masonic, interest in esoterism, alchemy, supernatural and magic) and the Romanticism.

Sturm und Drang Vol. 1 is the superb and superlative first CD in a collection of seven marvellous gems all dedicated to the Sturm und Drang music, a magnificent series conceived, designed, created and produced by the genius of Ian Page, celebrated founder and conductor of The Mozartists/Classical Opera Orchestra and under the Minervian aegis of the label Signum Classics Records.

     1. Ian Page’s great mosaic: Mozart 250 and his marvellous tesserae.

We’ve already had the privilege of having Ian Page as our special guest for our 10 Questions section and on that occasion, marked by the 20th Anniversary of Ian Page’s Classical Opera foundation, Ian Page had also presented and illustrated his extraordinary 2015 project Mozart 250: the journey of a lifetime.

Mozart 250 is an exclusive and exceptional permanent anniversary, through which it is possible, probably for the first time ever on such a wide systemic scale and year after year, to synchronically explore and discover an entire world of sounds, scores and people who had dedicated their life and their art to music, during those incredible years marked by Mozart’s own life.

As Ian Page told us in his 2018 Interview:
«Even those pieces which Mozart would almost certainly not have heard throw light on the gradual evolution of musical style during his lifetime, and of course the works that he did know are of even greater interest. […] We’ve already featured over thirty composers in the first three years of MOZART 250, […] and we’ll be releasing a 2-CD set of highlights from these concerts in May 2018».

So this is the scope and these are the amazing numbers of a great splendid mosaic shaped by many thousands of marvellous tessarae designed by the genius of Ian Page in person and Sturm und Drang Vol. 1 and the other six CD Albums of the Series are just another new seven superbly magnificent tesserae added to such a colossal and imposing framework.

You can read the complete MozartCircle Interview with Ian Page here:
January 2018: 10 Questions with Ian Page

You can find the complete discography of Ian Page & The Mozartists/Classical Opera here:
Complete discography of Ian Page & The Mozartists/Classical Opera

You can find here the complete presentation of the Mozart 250 Anniversary Years from 1765/2015 to 1770/2020:
Presentation of the Mozart 250 Anniversary Years (1765-1770/2015-2020)

Ian Page & Chiara Skerath present Sturm und Drang Vol. 1






2. Sturm und Drang and music: an introduction by Ian Page.

The great passion and commitment of Ian Page to the wide exploration of the musical world of the Mozart Era can be immediately perceived from the very booklet of this Sturm und Drang CD, written by him in person and with a remarkable profusion of interesting and, in a few cases, fundamental details on both composers, their lives and their works.

In the introduction, Ian Page delineates the boundaries of the so called Sturm und Drang movement from the 1776 play by Klinger to the Sorrows of the Young Werther (1774) by Goethe up to Die Räuber (1780) by Schiller.

He, moreover, correctly and acutely points out that currents of art and thought, that were leading to the final formulation of Sturm und Drang in 1776, already existed in the arts since even the 1750s.

Gluck and Goethe
Goethe himself and Gluck were two principal testimonies/actors of the evolution of this movement, as both already in the 1760s were strongly attracted by the contents and formal styles of the artistic productions of the Elizabethan Age from Marlowe and Shakespeare to Tirso de Molina and profoundly felt the total fascination of those artistic worlds of strong emotional contrasts so projected towards the Odyssiac interrogative investigation of all the final mysteries of human life: where human thoughts come from? How do they determine my actions? What dominates and moves Nature and her accidents? What’s Afterlife like? Will I be punished in Afterlife for my thoughts and my actions? It’s not a case, so, that Gluck in the 1760s will explore the Faustian theme of the Don Juan/Don Giovanni and then the Afterlife with his highly celebrated Orfeo ed Euridice, while Goethe soon after put his already 1760s Shakespearean hands at work on the Urfaust.

The painters and the Sturm und Drang
And, as Ian Page underlines, the painting movements are equally important to comprehend those years of emotional inquietude, where both the actual exceptional increasing number of vessels and sea adventures of the commercial and military companies and the rediscovery of Shakespearean plays like The Tempest put the men again before the mystery of the Unknown and of the profoundly mysterious nature of Nature herself, a human ancestral challenge that every sea voyage always implies (even today).

The world of Vernet and de Loutherbourg
And, as Ian Page correctly suggests, we can now find, in the 1750s/1780s, painters who masterly perceived and captured such feelings of tension and inquietude, by portraying men as novel Ulysses among dominating gods and forces, sea tempests and shipwrecks. Among them, the names of Joseph Vernet (the painter of the CD cover of this Album) and Philip James de Loutherbourg, with their cycles of paintings dedicated to the sea and the sea storms.

Furthermore, de Loutherbourg was so attracted by such themes that he even invented an eidophusikon, a sort of mechanical automatic theatre action creator, to show to his public, how a real sea storm unfolds and sounds and what it does to the human ships in their sea adventures of exploration!

And the Nature is like that Polyphemus, gigantic, menacing and blurred through the fogs of the coast, while Ulysses derides him before losing all his men in the tragedy of the divine punishment, as it emerges from the colours and the strokes of brush of W. Turner in his famous painting.

de Loutherbourg’s eidophusikon in action with a scene of sea tempest
and shipwreck + stage storm sound effects, one of the most acclaimed by the public







     3. Why we can say Sturm und Drang

The term Sturm und Drang (i.e. Storm and Drive/Impulse, in the sense of Drang des Herzens, the Drive of your Heart, where the common Storm and Stress is an erroneous and misleading translation) was invented in 1776, with the precise intention of describing the deliberate use of Elizabethan Age/Shakespearean style and themes in a theatre play, written by Klinger (a close friend of the young Goethe), with his own personal interest not only in the various forms of Shakespeare’s dramaturgy to be imitated, developed and improved, but also in the more obscure Marlowe’s work Doctor Faustus, a Renaissance German story which, by the way, was also the original source of Tirso de Molina’s Don Juan/Don Giovanni.

Even though the term Sturm und Drang was officially attached to classical music 18th century repertoire only in 1909 by the musicologist de Wyzewa as a direct reference to the strong emotional style of certain Haydn’s symphonies, all we can say about the choice of de Wyzewa is that he was right and that his intuition was appropriate and felicitous.

In fact, from the very beginning Sturm und Drang was a term of continuation, rather than a term for an invention from scratch, and was intended to describe the new intentional and deliberate revival and further development of artistic models both in style and content, which belonged to the European Elizabethan Age (ca. from 1550s to 1630s), by selecting as champions to be followed theatre and painting great artists, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Stefano Tuccio SJ (the creator, in 1564, of a long lasting idea of Judith from Caravaggio up to Jommelli and Mozart), Giovanni Battista della Porta (important scientist at the level of Galileo, but also neoplatonic magician, author of treatises on magic, a sort of real dr. Faust, alchemist and highly influential playwright: among his creations obviously a dramatically emotional Ulysses for the theatre), Caravaggio (highly influenced by the strong and emotional pre-Shakespearean Roman theatre of the Jesuits, i.e. Stefano Tuccio), Tirso de Molina (author of the Don Juan/Don Giovanni derived from German stories and Ingolstadt Jesuits’ theatre works on dr. Faust and count Leonzio), Moliere, Calderon de la Barca, the Caravaggisti (Vernet as a painter, was almost a pupil in direct line of the Caravaggisti and of Caravaggio), the Bologna fundamental school of the Carraccis (Ludovico and Annibale Carracci in primis) and Tintoretto.

Ian Page has very well written, in his CD booklet, that de facto Sturm und Drang and what this term means in artistic style, themes and content, already solidly existed before Kaufmann and Klinger decided to give a name to this vast cultural current in 1776.

The origin of this current, in fact, is to be found in a very curious and interesting movement of the 16th century that can be called as The Great Theatre Sources Collection of the 1550s/1590s a deliberate collection of sources to be used to create and write new plays for the Theatre (but also material for other forms of art), which had to be emotionally strong and realistically impressive and vivid. This current is well illustrated and presented by J. Bloemendal and H. B. Norland in the book they both edited Neo-Latin drama in early modern Europe, Leiden-Boston 2013. Shakespeare and Marlowe (like most of the artists named previously) were the geniuses prodigy children of this movement, not their fathers: Richardus Tertius was in England a colossal theatre production conceived in 1579 as a trilogy already 14 years before Richard III, while the 1591 Alabaster’s Roxana had already adopted theatrical solutions à la Hamlet, before Hamlet itself, and had already reached certain levels of even real expressionism in violence that nearly reached Titus Andronicus.

In conclusion, Sturm und Drang was deliberately invented to describe the intentional revival of an entire artistic and cultural current that existed in the period 1550s/1630s. And as van Eck, Bussels, Delbeke, Pieters and Refini have clearly demonstrated in their book (Translations of the Sublime, Leiden-Boston 2012), this vast European current was fundamentally nourished by the progressive diffusion of the individual and emotional definition of the Sublime in Art, given by the ancient Greek theoretician Longinus in his still aesthetically extraordinary and inspirational Homeric-Epic-centred book Peri Hupsous (1st century AD). As Refini very well put it: «Longinian sublimity is something more than a simple stylistic notion, for the sublime is first of all a state of mind […] the dimension of emotional involvement of both the author and the reader is the important one […] an idea of artistic creation which focuses on the extraordinary intellectual profusion of the ingenious artist…»

… That’s to say that, when C.P.E. Bach and Leopold Mozart wrote in their music manuals (1753; 1756) that «A musician can move others, only if he too is moved», they are enunciating a very well known Longinian aesthetical Homeric-inspired principle that belonged to the Elizabethan Era and we can call such apophthegm a Sturm und Drang apophthegm.

… When Goethe writes his first works in Shakespearean style, and neoplatonically declares Shakespeare a prophet of Nature and The Tempest, in all its parts, the absolute model for the artists and then write Zum Shakespears Tag (1771) and the Marlowian magic- and supernatural-centred Urfaust (1772-1773), we can call this Sturm und Drang.

… When Ian Page underlines, in his booklet, the fact that Gluck’s Don Juan‘s ballet of 1761 may actually be considered the beginning of music Sturm und Drang he is perfectly right, because Don Juan was derived from a German 1587 source on dr. Faust, reworked by some Jesuits of Ingolstadt as count Leonzio in 1615, before becoming the Tirso da Molina’s and Moliere’s Don Juan/Don Giovanni (see Raffaelli 2002).

… When Carpani, the famous biographer of Haydn (Le Haydine, 1812), says that the music style of Gluck is the style of Caravaggio, and that the style of Haydn is Tintoretto and the style of Jommelli is Ludovico Carracci and the style of Traetta is Preti, this is Sturm und Drang.

… When Mozart’s Don Giovanni (again another 1787 offspring of the 1587 German dr. Faust) was saluted by a 1789 Frankfurt newspaper as the truest spirit of Shakespeare («Mozart has learnt the language of ghosts from Shakespear»), this is Sturm und Drang: moreover, Mozart not only was strictly connected to Mannheim, that was a town and court enthusiast of Shakespeare, but his friend Schikaneder was himself a famous Shakespearean actor, like Mozart’s brother-in-law Lange, the husband of the much beloved Aloysia Weber, sister of Constanze.

It must be added that the assertion that a deliberate act of music Shakespeareanization in the 18th century does not exist, is false: Vogler, following in the footsteps of Goethe, in the period 1777-1779 elaborated and wrote an intentional essay on the theory about the transposition of the dramatic qualities of Shakespeare’s theatre into music, by using Hamlet instead of the Goethian Tempest as a model. We can call this Vogler’s deliberate act on music style and writing Sturm und Drang. And Vogler was the Mannheim teacher, mentor and inspirer of the of-Mannheim-origin von Weber, who wrote the Faustian Der Freischütz, of Meyerbeer and indirectly, through Meyerbeer, of Wagner, an admirer of Gluck!
On Vogler and Vogler’s Shakespeareanism and his emotional techniques in music see, in particular, the works by Grave F., Grave M. and Green Ed.

Now we can call all this Shakespeareanism or Elizabethanism or Marlowism or Longinianism or Tuccianism or Caravaggism or Tintorettianism or Late-Renaissancianism and even Jesuitsianism (see the origin of Don Juan/Don Giovanni), but, since the term Sturm und Drang was precisely invented to underline the full dynamic power of the two main motors of the whole Odyssiac Elizabethan Shakespeareanism, the Storm that affects the souls and the inner metaphysical and even supernatural Drive of the heart that may lead even to profanation or wrong doing, thus creating another Storm, well, we can well call all this Sturm und Drang.

If Carpani defines a good part of the music style of Haydn as the highly expressive and emotional style of Tintoretto, and this in 1812, de Wyzewa was perfectly right, in 1909, in calling that peculiar style of Haydn an Elizabethan Sturm und Drang.





     4. The Mozartian The Tempest of 1791, the Shakespearean style and the Mozartian beginning of the Romanticism

There is an extremely rare and interesting and yet lesser known series of 1791 letters published by Cliff Eisen in his book on the Mozartian sources (No. 106, year 1791).

A group of people (among them the Medea – a story on ancient witchcraft – collaborator of Benda, Gotter, and Bürger, the celebrated poet of the Leonore: this famous 1773 Shakespearean ballad became, with Der Wilde Jäger, one of the official Manifestos of the Romanticism in 1816), in a period between Spring 1791 and Autumn/Winter 1791, tried to contact Mozart and to offer him the possibility of setting in music a libretto based on The Tempest by Shakespeare, under the eloquent title of Die Geisterinsel (i.e. The Island of the Spirits). After many uncertainties on contacting Mozart or not, this group of people considered the names of other composers deemed suitable for setting such a Sturm und Drang (or already now proto-Romantic?) programmatic play into music.
The uncertainties were caused by the fact the Gotter, Bürger and the others had not a too direct knowledge of what Mozart and the other composers were actually doing or not at that very moment. It is a fact that, still on 15 December 1791, they are planning to contact Mozart to write an opera from their The Tempest libretto, by sending him the text, while Mozart was already dead.
Nonetheless the names of the other composers who could possibly be interested in treating a Sturm und Drang Shakespearean opera are really interesting and we give them in the exact order they appear in the long correspondence, because this is a clear declaration on music style and aesthetics by a group of people, who are considered the very official founders of the Romanticism, like Bürger:
1) Mozart
2) Dittersdorf
3) Schwenke, successor of C.P.E. Bach
4) Reichardt, friend of Goethe, husband of a Benda and author of
important 1774/1776 notes on the dramatic and tragic innovations
of the orchestral style invented and introduced by Jommelli
5) P. Wranitzky
6) Haydn (but «Haydn is in England!», they write and can’t be
7) Schulz, a friend of Reichardt,… when, in January 1792, they finally receive the news that Mozart died on 5 December 1791…

Here what we can say on these composers:
1) Paul Wranitzky had already written music for his most successful in-part-Shakespearean Oberon (adored by Goethe) in 1789 and later, in 1808, will write other things based on Shakespeare and with much darker atmospheres;
2) In the 1790s also Dittersdorf will treat not only Shakespearean themes in opera (The Merry Wifes of Windsor, 1796), but he will be well known for having been one the rarest composers of the 18th century to have written an opera on Dante’s Inferno… and many many years before Liszt’s own piano works and symphonic poems! It is important to point out here that Dittersdorf’s Ugolino (1796) was again a typical Sturm und Drang production of this period, whose origin stays, in primis, in a prose theatre play of the Late Renaissance derived from Dante’s Inferno.

From 1792 (Mozart’s and Haydn’s friend Hoffmeister’s opera derived from The Tempest, which appeared under the title The Shipwreck, i.e. Der Schiffbruch) to the the first years of 1800, Reichardt, Müller, the pupil of Dittersdorf, and the Mannheimer Voglerian rival of Mozart, Peter von Winter, and others, all wrote operas based on Shakespeare’s plays… evidently a final strong meaningful and epochal shift of interest towards Shakespeare also in opera, after just thirty years from the Marlowian Faustian Don Juan By Gluck.

Therefore, this truly Shakespeare-and-Mozart-driven series of letters written, in 1791, by those very intellectuals and writers who were the real founders, if not even the real flags of the Romanticism, such as Bürger, incredibly seems to position the mark of the 1760s/1770s Sturm und Drang transition to the Romanticism in the year 1791… Thus, at the very deathbed of Mozart in December 1791, we see the birth of an entire new Era born from the artistic highly fruitful Elizabethan aesthetic turmoils.




     5. The calligraphy of the scores of the period 1750/1780 and Ian Page’s selection and interpretation.

This chapter is also part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters.

Through the years, Ian Page has demonstrated to have a special and peculiar sensitiveness and accuracy in studying and treating the scores and the music production of the period 1750/1780, presenting particularly interesting, meaningful and significative approaches towards the 18th century repertoire of the then main music schools of Europe:
• Naples (Porpora, Durante), Bologna (padre Martini), Mannheim (Stamitz, Cannabich, pupil of Jommelli), as the principal ones,
and the secondary ones (only because they were not always real schools, being more linked to the personal prestige of one internationally famous composer/theoretician),
• Milan (Sammartini, the teacher of Gluck, and perhaps one of the music models of Haydn),
• Padua (Vallotti, the experimentalist theoretician, whose work inspired his pupil Vogler, under a certain point of view, the real Goethe of music, at least, as far as theory is concerned; Tartini, this year is the 250th Anniversary of his death, a model also for Leopold Mozart)
• and Venice (Vivaldi, who left an impressive mark on Italian and International music, with his works used as models, in particular by J.S. Bach and his family; Galuppi).
And it goes without saying that such schools generated the most incredible progeny of geniuses composers ever in a period of only 200 years! From Vivaldi, Porpora, Martini, Sammartini, Gluck and all the Bachs to all the composers on this CD, to Boccherini, Jommelli, Traetta, de Majo, Mozart and Haydn, Sarti, Cherubini, Rossini, von Weber and Donizetti up to Wagner himself and even Puccini.

Calligraphy, technique, form and essence in the Sturm und Drang
Those six schools developed a peculiar music masterly calligraphy, which (according to Carpani, the biographer of Haydn) found an aesthetic correspondence of artistic intents and a solid reference mostly in the Late Renaissance and Elizabethan Age painters, such as the Carraccis, Reni, Caravaggio, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Giulio Romano, Preti, Guercino, Tiziano and others…

… all painters, whose styles naturally oscillated (but it was a real technique  theorized by the Carraccis of Bologna!) from a highly polished Renaissance classicism to the wildest and most vivid and emotional forms of representation in search of both the truest reality (as Lodovico Carracci put it) and of the perfect Longinian Sublime (according to Lodovico Carracci the painters had to have a strong cultural, intellectual and literary preparation), while maintaining, nonetheless, a superior aesthetic masterly control of the techniques utilized… a calligraphy.

The Recitar cantando
Moreover, a few typical traits of the music of those music schools were characterized by a very celebrated peculiar style of recitar cantando and cantar recitando (act whilst singing, sing whilst acting), which was masterly and minutely built upon a series of subtleties in both score writing and canto, which, in the end, had to give a full figurative (even almost visual! but see the pieces in this CD!) musical representation of the words of the librettos and of the environmental contexts of that imaginative world to be recreated through the music. Therefore, music writing was an authentic complex art of very fine chisel modeled on the given context and which required high levels of interpretative mastery, a combination of genius and passione (genius, spirit and fire, the words of Jommelli!), finezzanaturalezza and sprezzatura… the work of art of these composers was really rather more similar to the work of a fine gold jeweller.

Jommelli as orfèvre, with Ian Page and Chiara Skerath
The work carried on by Ian Page and Chiara Skerath on the composition by Jommelli is, at the same time, amazing, extraordinary and exemplary on the interpretative level… and especially because that very piece from Jommelli’s Fetonte is itself a challenge and an amazing example of that special art of music orfèvrerie, where all the music and all the notes formulas and figurations visually represent, almost even speak the world they represent and its atmospheres. In this respect, Carpani was perfectly right: beside the fact that they both were inspiring leaders in their art, Jommelli’s style was really that highly intense and impressive Lodovico Carracci with his dramatic and colourful striking compositions of atmospheres, space and characters.

Jommelli’s calligraphy, atmosphere building and orfèvrerie in Fetonte’s Ombre, che tacite qui sede (on Ian Page’s and Chiara Skerath’s CD in a masterly interpretation)


Mozart, Gluck and Michael Kelly: master composers and melodists
The apparent simplicity and sometimes the lack of excessive exornamentation of certain scores, like that of Beck, must not be misleading! That was a studied and sought after aesthetic standard intentionally realized (and even theorized!) by master composers who had the total and most profound command of the many subtle devices of their art (like Beck), and THAT apparent formal simplicity, therefore, WAS NOT content simplicity… at all.

As Ian Page writes in his booklet: Beck’s Symphony in G minor (1762), «despite being scored for only strings and a pair of horns, has a power and intensity which might suggest a considerably later date of composition».

… but Mozart himself told Michael Kelly, in a famous (but also a bit bizarre: probably Mozart didn’t want to hurt the enthusiasm of Kelly as a budding composer of melodies) conversation between the two, that there is a substantial difference between a real master composer and a melodist:


But let’s listen to the very words of Mozart on music composition: you must know, also on an interpretative or critical level, who were the real great master composers, full of spirit and fire (as Jommelli used to say!) and full of chiaro ed oscuro (as Leopold Mozart wrote, in 1770, about the essence of opera writing) and who were the mere melodists in the 18th century.

We can say that Ian Page and Chiara Skerath have masterly done all this and a marvellous amazing music masterpiece by Jommelli has been reinstated to new life and can now shine again, for the first time in recording, on its own pedestal in all its own radiance and refulgence.

And the same can be said for the deservedly legendary piece by Traetta from his Sofonisba!

Thank you, Ian Page and Chiara Skerath!



Jommelli, designing and manoeuvring the masses of orchestral sounds
Thanks to many original documents of even eye-witnesses, we know Jommelli’s ideas on the orchestral performance style pretty well.
He adored the full orchestral mass, capable of producing powerful well studied nuanced, subtle and highly impressive dynamics and highly expressive effects of chiaro ed oscuro through the balanced intensity of the sound of the whole orchestra.
His personal orchestra in Germany, when possible, could even manage to reach the number of a hundred musicians, to obtain the most increased and impressive results. He was a sound and orchestral technique perfectionist and his musicians had to reach the greatest levels of skillful, perfect and virtuosic natural performance during the concerts. Moreover, he even carefully designed the acoustics by changing the positions of the orchestral sections to obtain the best effects.
Nonetheless, he was even accused for his extremely luxurious ideas on what a full orchestra had to be and had to powerfully sound and for adding counterpoint sections to increase the effect. And we know that also Dittersdorf and Mozart loved a few aspects of this type of work by Jommelli.
It is a well documented fact that the modern technique of manoeuvring the whole orchestral sound as a unique body with the modern breathtaking crescendos and diminuendos was invented and introduced by Jommelli himself in 1740s in Rome (see Spitzer-Zaslaw, 2004). Furthermore, we know also that the style of interpretation of his orchestras was always extremely intense even almost up to the orgiastic, all genius, spirit and fire, as Jommelli used to say (i.e. Sturm und Drang!).

From Reichardt, Briefe, 1774-1776: the first astonishing effect of Jommelli’s orchestral sound design and its adoption by his German pupils from Mannheim, like Cannabich.



Burney describes the type of performance of the Neapolitan orchestra in 1770/1771 from mild/sober tones to flames. The orchestra was one of the best of that time with Mannheim and Stuttgart, in part shaped by the same Jommelli or by his pupils, and you’ll notice that Burney even uses here the same identical words as Jommelli: genius, spirit and fire, to describe the performance of the Neapolitan orchestra.


And, also in this respect, the interpretation of Ian Page and Chiara Skerath, so full of subtleties, of intense nuanced effects, of sophisticated orchestral games of lights and shades, is exemplary at the highest degree and fully demonstrates their absolute masterly control of the real essence of the original scores by Jommelli.
The dynamics à blocks, chopped up, metallic Baroque is finally banished, that very style that Jommelli deliberately demolished through his sound design and to invent the modern orchestra, starting some time in Rome in 1740s.

A postscript
Since we are following the paths of Sturm und Drang, it is interesting to notice here that the very first crescendo written on score by Jommelli belongs to 1741, to describe the storm in Merope. Soon after, however, this Jommelli’s technique rapidly became a real full orchestra expressive sound nuance in his written scores without any kind of relation to any type whatsoever of programmatic depiction.
Apparently the first awkward attempt (and without any solid future) to try something similar to the famously expressive natural and colourful modulated invention by Jommelli belongs to Locke’s incidental music to describe the sea storm in The Tempest by Shakespeare (1675)!




     6. Ian Page leads us through the first 1760s compositions of Sturm und Drang.

This chapter is also part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters.

With this CD Ian Page has created a well designed selection of compositions from the 1760s and a real gallery of composers, who mastered that particular style called Sturm und Drang.

A Gallery of Composers
Gluck – Jommelli – Traetta – Beck – Haydn

a. Gluck: the beginning of Sturm und Drang in music with Don Juan/Don Giovanni
The CD cover chosen by Ian Page for his latest production on Sturm und Drang is particularly meaningful…

For Carpani, in fact, the style of Gluck is that of Caravaggio: an important choice, if we see in Gluck the possible initiator of the Sturm und Drang in music, with his Faustian ballet Don Juan/Don Giovanni (1761). Still today, most of the scholars consider Caravaggio the natural counterpart of Shakespeare in painting and various books have been written on this subject!


You see the luminous blade and the dramatic treatment of light, that literally fights his way on through the darkness.

This Finale of Gluck’s Don Juan (we find here in the masterly accurate and detailed rendition of Ian Page, all wild lights and shades), may be certainly considered the beginning of the Sturm und Drang in music, at least, for two main reasons:
1. the programmatic Faustian Elizabethan theme: in 1587 there was a German proverb on the damnation of the alchemist dr. Faust and of his famous profanation dining with the devil and the dead, a profanation that sent him to Hell (see Raffaelli);
2. the magnificent masterly power of the score and of the music, full of a dynamic darkness cut by sudden luminous flashes and ominous figures (the symbolism of the divine punishment through the use of the trombone).

The level of quality of this work convinced Gluck (already recognized as a great composer by Durante himself) to organize an even totally organic systematization of the music for the theatre, the Reform, and that influenced composers such as Beethoven and Wagner.

As Ian Page remembers in his booklet, this was a very famous seminal piece.
From certain Mozart’s pages to Paul Wranitzky, von Weber and probably even Wagner, etc., we may find various elements of reference. But probably the most direct, strict and precise use of the musical and orchestrational techniques of Gluck reappear in a few compositions by his once friend Dittersdorf, such as the Finales of the two Ovid Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2 (again symbols of metamorphosis and punishment!) and his highly successful Iob.

b. Jommelli & Traetta: the magnificence of the Neapolitan School
These are the two real surprise jewels of this CD Album for the Mozart’s 250th Anniversary of this year 2020!

The interpretative highly and finely chiselled work by Ian Page here has reached the highest levels and Chiara Skerath has demonstrated an astonishing sensitiveness and tragic ductility to confer, at the same time, drama and elegance!

Ian Page’s Jommelli and Traetta, here in world’s premiere recordings, are really of the most rarely heard beauty!

1. Jommelli’s music, ossia genius, spirit and fire!

For Carpani, the style of Jommelli was the highly expressive and emotional Ludovico Carracci, one of the major leaders and theorists of the Bologna school of painting.


You see here the dynamic appearing of the supernatural (the Madonna) in the everyday life rendered by Carracci through a skillful dynamic change of step in the use of the strokes of the brush and in the dramatic light: look, in particular, at the dynamic composition and at the movements of the voile and at the details of Vernet’s stormy sea air, water spray and atmosphere.

This very painting by L. Carracci was considered one of his masterpieces and was named La Carraccina and was used as a model by an entire generation of young painters, who were studying the art of painting: among them, in particular, Guercino (one of the favourite and most appreciated painters of Goethe).

One interesting trait in common between Carracci and Jommelli is the well studied and theorized ductility of style to be adopted when rendering the different levels of emotions and dramas: the style must change in order to realistically follow and build the drama.

Jommelli’s Fetonte 1768
As we have said previously, this page from Fetonte chosen by Ian Page is an exemplary prodigy of musical orfèvrerie.

We leave to the beautifully written booklet by Ian Page the amazing description of the many many luxurious astonishing details of the colossal production of Jommelli’s Fetonte 1768 (earthquakes, underwater palaces, marine ballets and much more), we just remember here that you’ll find in Mozart various lessons learned from Jommelli’s art, from certain scenes of his Lucio Silla to that whole dramatic universe that are the accompanied recitatives of his Don Giovanni.

Jommelli meets Mozart: from 1763 to 1770 (250th Anniversary)
Leopold met Jommelli in Ludwigsburg in 1763, where Jommelli had established a musical environment with very high level standards of art and professionalism (as Leopold himself had to admit). On that occasion, Jommelli met the 7-year-old child prodigy Mozart and affirmed: «It is amazing and hardly believable that a child of German birth could be such a musical genius and with so much spirit and fire!».
Apart from this anecdote left by Leopold in his letters, through the years Jommelli’s influence on Wolfgang Mozart progressively became (especially technically speaking) extremely important: from the 4-hands keyboard practice to Jommelli’s sacred motets models, behind the Ave verum corpus. Moreover, that most famous Christian Cannabich, one of the pillars of the Mannheim orchestra, was a personal pupil of Jommelli. And the Cannabich family, with just few others from Mannheim, would long work with Wolfgang and would remain friend of Wolfgang and Constanze from 1777 to 1791 and even after.

We see here elements of Jommelli’s Fetonte (1768) in Mozart.


Due to the very serious illness of his wife, Jommelli’s career ended on low tones in Naples, where he had practically lost a part of the support of his public in the 1770s and even received some undeserved criticism, even after the great international success of many years and the many innovations introduced. And, on this a bit sad occasion, in 1770 Leopold and Wolfgang met him again in Naples and, according to Abert, Jommelli may have been well interested in producing an opera by Wolfgang, if Wolfgang had not already received that famous Mitridate commission by the Milan theatre.
«Jommelli is a civil man and his music is beautiful!», Mozart instinctively writes when he meets him at the opera theatre for the first time.
The other notes by Mozart written on the following days and about Jommelli’s music «very beautiful, but too serious» was a common criticism in Naples in 1770s, apparently created by Paisiello and other people’s of his party against Jommelli’s too technically sophisticated scores for theatre (even with counterpoint!). See on this Kimbell and Einstein, but also contemporary sources like Burney and Schubart: so Mozart here was just retelling rumours heard circulating in the town; Mozart himself will be later accused of using too many notes.

The original letter was written by Wolfgang in Italian:


Two paintings from Naples, that belong to the 1770 Italian Tour, if confirmed, apparently portray Leopold and Wolfgang and Jommelli in the same room for a music of friends session in a Neapolitan house with sir Hamilton and Lord Portrose. Moreover, the Bolognese padre Martini received the Mozarts very well after their stay in Naples (that Martini, who considered Jommelli among his best pupils!). All this makes us think that Wolfgang and his father Leopold, in Naples, had received the blessing of the old big master, who, was going to die in 1774.



     2. Traetta’s opera chiaro ed oscuro and the fortune of Sophonisba

How Carpani aesthetically sees the strongly emotional music by Traetta, it can be easily comprehended by the images here infra.


The painter is Preti, and the whole drama and tragedy in the music by Traetta emerges, like in a painting by Preti, from the darkness, through an accurate and intense work of ambient occlusion shades that strives to get the surfaces and the volumes evenly lit. And this is the art of the theatre of Traetta and of his dramatic operas: his syncopations, his dramatic arabesques of notes figurations, his intense cumulation of sfs and oppressive and continuous uneven sound dynamics up to the expressionist non-music Urlo a la francese, which creates a peculiar strong and warm feeling of drama at the same time. … Urlo a la francese: it was called in this way, because it was a direct imitation of the Nature itself (Sturm und Drang), according to some French aesthetics of that time… that’s to say, a scream as you hear it in Nature.

According to a famous letter by Leopold Mozart about Wolfgang’s Mitridate premiere of 1770, the main characteristics of opera must be the representation and the expression of the chiaro ed oscuro (i.e. the lights and the shades, through progressive nuances between the two opposite sides), a term which indicates also a peculiar painting technique, we well recognize in Preti. This definition of opera writing is practically the very definition of the art of Traetta and the rendition of Ian Page and Chiara Skerath really captures all the incredible levels and tragic nuances of this masterpiece score by Traetta.

The art and the influential innovations of the Neapolitan master Traetta are so important in the history of music that Abert in his monumental life of Mozart wrote many important pages on them and about their impression on and use by the young composer prodigy from Salzburg.

Traetta and Jommelli and the Mannheim Mannerisms
The opera Sofonisba was a deluxe colossal 1762 masterpiece production for Mannheim and the compositional and orchestral emotional techniques, effects and devices of both Traetta and Jommelli were to leave a profound and enduring mark in the DNA of that famous orchestra of all generals (Burney). De facto, the characteristic music formulas, the dynamics and the notes figurations in rhythm and music you find here and in some other compositions by Jommelli of those years, and the full orchestra volume masses moving from pp to ff and vice versa as a unique body of sounds (for Reichardt, invented by Jommelli), will become that part of that collection of music emotional devices, that are generally known also as the Mannheim Mannerisms.
For a synthetical presentation of the main elements typical of the Mannheim Mannerisms, their use after their introduction (especially in Sturm und Drang) and their origin from Jommelli, Galuppi and others, you can read our MozartCircle brief paper:
MozartCircle – The Mannheim Mannerisms (October 2015)
It is a fact, that most of the most important works of research and the original documents on this subject had clearly demonstrated that the origin and first use of certain music figurations and techniques called Mannheim Mannerisms were first invented or introduced by Jommelli, Traetta and the others even in the 1740s, often with the very deliberate intent to break the old Baroque music tradition and style and to explore new expressive possibilities of the orchestra… … so well before Gluck and Mannheim style codifications: see Reichardt (1774-1776), but also Spitzer-Zaslaw (2004) among others.

Chiara Skerath on the expressionist Urlo alla Francese of Traetta’s Sophonisba 

Traetta’s Sofonisba 1762: a long lasting theatre fortune of a character
With Judith, Armida, Alceste and Antigone, Sophonisba was one of the most loved, popular and adored female characters of opera throughout the whole 18th century and well into the 19th century. Moreover, the subject was a typical 18th century revival of Renaissance and Late Renaissance prose tragedies: in particular the model of most of the 18th century Sophonisba operas was substantially the tragedy by Trissino (1514/15, but premiere only in 1556).

From 1708 to 1805 ca. 15 operas were produced and many by the most notable masters of that era (Gluck, Leo, Jommelli, Galuppi up to Paer), 1 melologue and 2 ballets. But the great fortune of this character will well last until 1914 into the first full length feature films ever!

Nonetheless, still today it is only Traetta’s Sofonisba that is considered The Masterpiece par excellence and in particular for his almost legendary masterly compositional writing of the extremely intense and emotional scenes of the main female character. Many scenes of Traetta’s Sofonisba reach a real amazing never heard before level of expressive violence (Mattei, Rome 2019). But see also Carrer (Torino 1988) and others (Torino 1999).

This female character and her tragic story was so profoundly felt by the audience of that period that Sofonisba is one of the very fewest operas which was set in music by a woman composer, who was active as a composer between Milan and Naples, Maria Teresa Agnesi-Pinottini (1765). Daughter of an important aristocratic family, she wrote also a series of vocal compositions for Maria Theresa of Austria and she was among the Milanese ladies who received and personally met the Mozarts (Leopold and Wolfgang) in their salons during the Mozart’s stay in Milan in 1770.

The Traettas in the newly born USA
Another curious fact on Traetta and which certainly reflects the atmospheres of political and social upheavals of the 1770s is that his son Filippo (after having taken some risky position during the various Revolutions) is among the very first European musicians and composers to settle finally in the newly born United States (1799) and is among those who established a well enduring classical music tradition on the East Coast between Boston, New York and Philadelphia (where he founded the American Conservatory), through many Academies, activities of promotion and public concerts.

c. Beck: the avant-garde of Mannheim

Unfortunately, Beck, like all the Bachs, Myslivecek, Pleyel, Dussek and many others, was not in the 1812 comparison list of Carpani Composers-Painters and so we have not an authoritative visualization of his art of music.

However, Ian Page’s choice for the 1759 Vernet of the CD Cover may well represent both the adventurous art and the rather adventurous life of the man, who spent great part of his life in towns near the sea and the Atlantic Ocean (Marseilles and then in Bordeaux as celebrated music leader).


Beck, pupil of Stamitz (Mannheim) and Galuppi (Venice), was a typical Mannheim composer, who used all the devices of that Mannheim highly celebrated art (built in part also on a few Jommelli’s and Traetta’s practices and innovations). Nonetheless, his personal character (apparently rather igneous: he himself destroyed most of his operas) and his extremely personal artistic independent development created a symphonic world that rapidly went beyond the teachings of the schools he belonged to.

His orchestral compositions, especially from 1762 on, reach such levels of drama, created through the continuous violent contrast of the dynamics and of the timbres and colours of his music and the unpredictability and, at the same time, the thematic correlations and connections of certain choices in both the technical structure and the musical flow, and the masterly tragic tone of his chromaticism constructions (see the very beginning of his Symphony in G)… reach such levels of drama that we are well before a sort of Sturm und Drang avant-garde man, already in the direction more of the Romanticism than anything else.

Two distinctive passages of Beck’s style


Beck’s symphonic scores are a real case of study for the scholars, because a few techniques used in them (i.e. thematic development, inversion of themes, a feverish concentration of the rhythm and all skillfully treated as if the composition were a tragic naturality) will reappear only in the late Haydn and in Beethoven.

It is a fact that Beethoven adored studying and analyzing scores of other composers, especially in search of highly peculiar, expressive, bizarre or diverse treatments: apart from Haydn and Mozart, a few well known and well documented territories of Beethovenian wandering were Kraus, P. Wranitzky, Dittersdorf, Knecht and even a few hymns of the French Revolution.

Another curious fact is that this symphony by Beck is in G minor, the same key as the most famous and celebrated Symphony No. 25 K. 183 by Mozart, usually considered modeled on a few dramatic symphonies by Vanhal, the pupil of Dittersdorf, who became, with his compositions, one of the symbols both of the Mannheim techniques and of the Sturm und Drang.

d. Haydn: the powerful creative isolation of a genius
For Carpani the style of Haydn was a combination of various great painters, where the highly emotional and dynamic Tintoretto has the predominant position. In other Haydn’s works you’ll appreciate more the Haydn Raffaello, the Haydn Tiziano and the Haydn Michelangelo, Carpani says, but the major hallmark remains that sense of powerful drive (Drang) and dynamic drama, that emerges from the compositions by the Esterhazys’ court composer.


This Sturm und Drang symphony by Haydn is certainly among those that Carpani (Haydn’s biographer, 1812) would have defined a Tintoretto Symphony. The sounds, even in the slow movements, are like cutting edges and in the fast ones you’ll physically perceive brush-strokes of music like sudden flashes of light which emerges from a stormy turmoil of sounds and colours. The magnificent and pivotal role of horns in conveying a sense of tragic culmination to the whole sound texture is here masterly rendered and directed by the wise and intense gesture of Ian Page.

It is a fact that this very popular symphony by Haydn (written in 1768 and with many 18th century copies across Europe) was formally a so called sonata da chiesa symphony. Whatever the origin of its nickname La Passione well documented since 1780s, this symphony features Haydn’s own special and personal treatment and development of the Sturm und Drang Mannheim Sigh, which characterizes the whole first movement.


The more accurate listener will recognize, already in this symphony of the 1760s, some Haydnesque musical typical devices from the use of horns to the treatment of the flowing of the sections musical discourse that would attract the young Beethoven some years later.

The extra-correct choice of Ian Page to include the Aria from Haydn’s La Canterina (1766) can be certainly defined the most Shakespearean of all of them.

Sturm und Drang music in a comedy?

But, this is the most perfect recipe of all Shakespeare’s recipes, the playwright who leads his audience to an almost orgiastic sensual rapture operated on the public by his very fine arts: while the people are crying for the most desperate and devastating tragedy, make them suddenly laugh; while the people are laughing, devastate their feelings with the most obscure and absurd tragedy.

This mixture of tears and laughter is certainly one of the truest and subtlest essences of the Shakespearean Sturm und Drang, and in La Canterina we can say that Haydn has well demonstrated that He is Shakespeare at the same artistic level as the real one.

As Ian Page has well underlined in his speeches and interviews on Haydn and the Sturm und Drang, this powerful and dynamic art which highly impressed his contemporaries (the 1768 symphony La Passione was among his most loved compositions ever) and which still impresses us so much was the fruit of very long periods of meditations, of an authentic sensorial isolation from the rest of the world and the truest listening to the voice of his own heart, that was going to speak the language that the whole world comprehends and speaks (as Haydn told Mozart in 1790), the language of music dictated by the inner Drang of your heart.

e. Jommelli’s and Traetta’s innovations and gratitude towards Ian Page and his collaborators
The musical innovations introduced by Jommelli can be summarized as follows:
• more freedom in the organization of the Opera Aria to underline the drama and the tragedy and creation of bigger and more complex opera scenes with a more complex stage action and overture thematically related to the rest of opera (see Fetonte 1768);
• the fundamental introduction of the new full orchestral dynamic performance of piano and forte passages (see on this the account by Reichardt, Briefe, Frankfurt 1774-1776), with the precise intent to emotionally impress the audience with a full and intense orchestra sound;
• the accompanied recitatives with their intense, word by word chiseled technique, which Mozart furtherly developed and reused;
• a much more vigorous and full orchestration, than the usual Neapolitan and Gluckian neat and thin tradition, with some addition even of counterpoint, another technical characteristic in common with the future production of Mozart;
• the introduction/invention of the harpsichord 4-hands duo;
• the development of the sacred motets, a model for Mozart’s Ave verum corpus.

Traetta’s innovations and which left an important impression on Wolfgang (but see Abert for a full treatment with Jommelli and de Majo):
• a strong emotional musical involvement in the drama, characterized by the warmth and intensity of the tragic musical elocution;
• the typical use of dramatic formulas and figurations in notes and orchestral passages;
• the variation of the musical elements.

Later 19th and 20th century music critics will call both Jommelli and Traetta  the Italian Glucks, however a few of their orchestral and opera innovations  predate Gluck’s works and opera reform (ca. 1763).

It is a fact that already in the 1770s and 1780s many professionals, such as Saverio Mattei, considered Jommelli and Traetta the real inventors of some technical and orchestral innovations that were then attributed to Gluck’s reform.

Nonetheless, so said, Gluck’s very strong self-consciousness in the cultural operation he was carrying on and the strong Faustian programmatic value of his work, certainly makes his Don Juan 1761 the very ideal point of beginning of the Sturm und Drang in music.

Our immense gratitude goes here to Ian Page, Chiara Skerath and the whole The Mozartists/Classical Opera orchestra and équipe for their excellent, superb and superlative job done in producing this CD, which rightly appears published in May 2020, on the very occasion of the 250th Anniversary of the 1770 formative Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang and which finally let us fully appreciate and enjoy that special intense high art of music by these great international Neapolitan masters that so much then long impressed, influenced and inspired the young genius Mozart for the rest of his life.

Ian Page in conversation with James Jolly of Gramophone Magazine: among the various subjects also the peculiar music techniques of the Sturm und Drang. 







7. Ian Page: establishing a tradition within style and aesthetics.
As we have seen in the previous parts, Ian Page proves here to have and possess a total command of the different levels of style and aesthetics behind and required by each single author chosen for this first Volume dedicated to the Sturm und Drang movement in music.

The importance of this operation by Ian Page fundamentally constitutes its foundations on the necessity of establishing a correct, solid and valuable interpretative tradition for composers, whose music, unfortunately and undeservedly, was known as being important and beautiful, but mostly remained as mute ink on paper for two centuries.

In this respect, we sincerely hope that this magnificent CD by Ian Page and that his whole collection of seven discs will become a model of style and aesthetic research.
As a matter of fact music is a very peculiar type of, so to say, aerial artistic monument: it lives only when it is masterly reproduced and simply doesn’t exist, as long as it remains on paper.
And with this CD Ian Page has revealed to us what kind of portentous, stupendous and highly influential musical masterpieces have nowadays only life on ancient papers.

And it’s exactly here that this CD Album by Ian Page shines now above the storm as a beacon in the tempest. This CD is a light and a model to look at and follow, lest a magnificent and gorgeous single note will be left, deprived of her natural life, abandoned unperformed on an old piece of paper.


     8. Conclusions.
When, in the evening, the laser light will end its brightly wandering on the plastic surface of your CD and the sounds and notes will melt into thin air as magic actors, you’ll find yourself asking for more from all this… more Jommelli, more Traetta, more Gluck, more Beck, more Haydn, more Chiara Skerath, more Ian Page and his productions.

With this CD of an astonishing beauty, Ian Page has really acted as a beneficent demiurge recalling to life the experience of the Longinian Sublime from the tenebrae of the undeservedly abandoned scores of the 18th century (you’ll find three extraordinary and breath-taking World’s première recordings in his CD!).

Thus, through the tempest of the modern and present times, you’ll love to be a cast-away on the island of Sturm und Drang Vol. 1, as a revered guest of your magnificent Prospero/CD Player, administering his spells of impalpable essence and beauty, directly from the books of art of Ian Page’s magic!

Thank you Maestro and Ad maiora!

S. & L.M. Jennarelli






Homer, Odyssey XII, 393-396 / 405-444
The Sturm und Drang punishment of Ulysses by the gods.

[Some time after the Nekya episode with its visions of the World of the Dead (which have certainly some Sumerian model) and of the remunerations in the Afterlife, Ulysses discovers the profanation dining of his men (see Faust 1587 and Don Juan/Don Giovanni) with the sacred meat of the cows of the god Sun, driven his men by a senseless will to acts of wrong doing. And the gods make their appearance with consequent ominous supernatural prodigies.]

The cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at once to show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the cattle crawled about, and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows, and the meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a noise just as cows do.

[divine punishment for the act of profanation of eating the meat of the sacred cows and the shipwreck]

The son of Kronos raised a black cloud over our ship,
and the sea grew dark beneath it.
[…] we were caught by a terrific squall the wind Zephyrus, that snapped the forestays of the mast so that it fell aft, while all the ship’s gear tumbled about at the bottom of the vessel. […]
Then Zeus let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went round and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were carried about in the water round the black ship, looking like so many ravens, but the god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home again. […]
Charybdis was then sucking down the salt sea water, but I was carried aloft toward the fig tree, which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. […]
so I hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge my mast and raft again […] At last I let go with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the sea, hard by my raft from the shattered pieces of my ship and on to that raft I then got, and began to row with my hands. […]

[Ulysses will end as a cast-away on the remote magic island of the nymph Calypso]

In these powerful Homeric pages of ca. 3200 years ago, we find the ancestral dimension of the Sturm und Drang’s Odyssiac elements: sea voyages towards the Unknown and the Undiscovered, magic and supernatural, senseless acts and wrong doing, profanation dining against the gods, diis iniuria and divine punishment, shipwreck and cast away, life on remote islands of magic, lands of supernatural creatures, contrasted loves, visions of the Afterlife and the remuneration for Good and Evil acting…

from Odyssey, Book XII, 393-396 / 405-444
Core narration: ca. 1235-1184 BC
Homeric Greek form: ca. 9th/8th century BC
The themes of the visions of or of the descent into the realms of the Afterlife, of the shipwreck and the cast-away, of the mistake and the punishment were already in the even more ancient Sumerian literature, which, in part, was a model for Homer.

The Longianian treatise On the Sublime and the Late Renaissance and Elizabethan Age theatre plays carried the story of Ulysses with all its very distinctive Odyssiac elements well into the Sturm und Drang of the 18th century up to the Shakepearean The Tempest libretto to be set in music by Mozart in 1791.

Alcaeus, fr. 34
The sea tempest and the Dioscuri.

… and, jumping from the masts of ships of beautiful benches through the sea tempests, you, two Dioscuri gods, run up along the forestays bright and the light beneficent to the black ship bearing in the darkness of the night… (Alcaeus, Fragment No. 34, ca. 620 BC)

One of the many ancient poems and literature passages, based on the archetypal Odyssey.


Interview June 2020: 10 Questions with I. Ilić


Ivan Ilić: Official Sites
Ivan Ilić Site: Ivan Ilić Official Site
Ivan Ilić: Ivan Ilić (Chandos Artists)
Ivan Ilić: Ivan Ilić (Twitter)
Ivan Ilić: Ivan Ilić (YouTube)

Ivan Ilić: CD Albums
Ivan Ilić: Reicha: Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1
Ivan Ilić: Haydn/Stegmann: Symphonies 92, 75, 44 transcribed for piano
Ivan Ilić: Haydn & Beethoven: Vitality & Virtuosity

Antoine Reicha 250th Anniversary

Reicha: From Bach’s fugues & mathematics to the visionary creation
of contemporary music foundations in 1799/1803

10 Questions with
international pianist Ivan Ilić
author of the Chandos Records Series Reicha Rediscovered

Introduction: Chandos/Ivan Ilić’s film Reicha Rediscovered (2017)

Episode 1: Introduction                      Episode 2: Bonn 

Episode 3: Hamburg                          Episode 4: Vienna 


1. (a) When did your passion for Reicha’s music begin? When did you think for the first time to create this exclusive and organic CD Series on Reicha’s piano music, Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos)? How did you conceive and develop the whole project?

(b) Can you tell us about the life of Reicha as artist and composer, but seen mainly through his piano works, especially those presented in your CD Series Vol. 1 & Vol. 2?

I became aware of Reicha’s 36 Fugues during my studies at university, twenty years ago. They are kind of famous among musicology geeks,…

… because they combine the language of late 18th century Vienna with an experimental approach akin to that of many early 20th century composers, which is truly a unique combination.

Fugue no. 20 is a good example: it is entirely in 5/8 time, which was extremely unusual. But to me these fugues were curiosities of music history, not pieces I seriously considered studying alongside Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes.

I only began learning and performing them years later, around 2014.

When I examined them closely, I couldn’t believe no one was playing them. When I was in college, I was too inexperienced to take the full measure of his achievement. His musical personality is authoritative, but also fun. Some works are obsessed with meticulous counterpoint, whereas others break all the rules of conventional fugue writing…

… But there are also substantial Sonatas, virtuosic Theme and Variations, and disarmingly charming Preludes reminiscent of Händel and JS Bach.

As I began to perform the Opus 36 Fugues, audiences reacted warmly. After the concerts, at CD signings, audience members always talked about the Reicha and what a wonderful discovery it was. So I began to play them more often. Whenever I could, I would slip the fugues into my concert programmes. The pieces are accessible, and include a wide range of affects lyrical, theatrical, dramatic… And practically speaking, they fit well next to Beethoven’s and Haydn’s works.

The origin of the CD series was actually a radio series I co-produced with Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2 about Reicha’s solo piano music. This led to the radio supporting the recording of Volume 1 at their gorgeous concert hall, the Studio Ansermet in Geneva. Discussions with Chandos Records to release the recording led to the idea of doing a series, since that is their signature approach to repertoire. Although I wasn’t originally planning to do several CD’s of Reicha, I realized that it could be worthwhile. By coincidence, the Palazzetto Bru Zane Foundation in Venice was planning a Reicha Festival and they invited me to participate, which led to their support of Volume 1. So everything came together naturally.

The final piece of the puzzle is the tireless work by French music publisher Editions Symétrie, and their Reicha specialist Michael Bulley, who are in the process of preparing new editions of Reicha’s piano music. This allowed me to prepare works which were previously only available in manuscript.

So I knew that Reicha had written much more piano music that had never been recorded, but I didn’t know how much of it was worthwhile. However, I guessed that the Opus 36 Fugues, two hours of extraordinary music, could not have been a fluke. So we launched into the series with confidence, and that has been rewarded many times over.

Ivan Ilić performs Antoine Reicha’s Fugue no 32 [live] 

agint20daaaxfc                                   _______________________

(b) Can you tell us about the life of Reicha as artist and composer, but seen mainly through his piano works, especially those presented in your CD Series Vol. 1 & Vol. 2?

Life and Works of Antoine Reicha with Ivan Ilić
Reicha had an important historical role in music, as he brought the tradition of Viennese instrumental writing to the Paris Conservatory.

You could think of him as the direct link between Haydn and Reicha’s Parisian students, which included Liszt, Franck, Berlioz and many others.

I emphasize this because it’s important to understand when he was alive and who he knew, in order to understand how his pieces fit into the core repertoire.

He grew up near Prague, and his music teacher was his uncle Josef Reicha (1746-1795), a musician much appreciated by Leopold Mozart himself and by Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph.

Then Reicha moved to Bonn when he was 15, where he met and befriended Beethoven. There Reicha and Beethoven started studying J.S. Bach’s works and composition, under the Bonn composer Neefe. The two friends studied at the University together and had similar interests and ambitions, with Reicha attending, in particular, also the lectures in mathematics, beside those in Kantian philosophy. But whereas Beethoven was what we would call a networker today, making friends with wealthy aristocratic patrons, Reicha was a loner, and made his living teaching throughout his life.

From his autobiography we have learned that he was bitterly disappointed by failures early in his career, and resigned himself to quietly making a living, composing as much as possible, and leaving it to future generations to decide if what he composed was worthwhile. He spent time in Hamburg, Leipzig, Paris, and Vienna, before settling permanently in Paris at the age of 38 and becoming one of the most sought-after music teachers in France.

In terms of his piano music, it’s possible to split Reicha’s production into three periods:
• Hamburg (1794-1799)
• Vienna (1802-1808)
• Paris (1808-1836)

In Hamburg he wrote his first treatise on composition and many short, experimental pieces. In Vienna he wrote big, ambitious works including sonatas and theme and variations, in addition to string quartets and symphonies and the revolutionary series of fugues Op. 36 dedicated to J. Haydn (ca. 1803/1805; a first shorter version, which belonged to the Hamburg period 1797/1799, was dedicated to Mehul, Cherubini, Gossec, Le Sueur, Martini). In Paris he became a respected professor of counterpoint, and wrote an extraordinary set of 34 Preludes and Fugues (which he called Etudes dans le genre fugué, Opus 97), which are more conventional but sparkle with wit and craftsmanship. During the Paris period he published his fundamental works on musical theory, which inspired an entire generation of new composers: five famous treatises on the arts and techniques of musical composition (1814-1833).


All told there is something like 15 hours of music, which is a tremendous amount considering that Reicha was not a piano virtuoso and that he was writing operas and works for many other instrumental combinations all the while. Determining the pieces’ chronology is tricky, which frustrates our ability to understand his artistic development. For example, there are early works he only published decades later. With works that were not published during his lifetime, establishing when they were written can prove to be difficult, sometimes impossible.

Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1
In terms of my CD series with Chandos, Volume 1 presents two Sonatas from the Viennese period, and an array of works likely written in Hamburg. For those that are familiar with the Piano Sonatas of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, you owe it to yourself to listen to Reicha’s Sonatas too, just as you should listen to Dussek, Clementi, Hummel, Wölfl and others. Remember Beethoven was interested in these works, and was familiar with them. Can you really be confident that there is nothing of interest there?

The other works were originally written as musical examples for a textbook, and they are some of the most surprising works from the period I have encountered. I made a video of one of them, Capriccio. The others include a 4-minute Fantasy on 3 notes, and a 9-minute Theme and VariationsHarmonie, which is unbelievably rich and dense, and should be studied by piano students everywhere.

Ivan Ilić performs Antoine Reicha’s Capriccio 

Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 2
Volume 2 presents the first 13 pairs of Preludes and Fugues from the book of 34 written in Paris. The preludes range between character pieces reminiscent of Schumann to hymns in the style of Händel. The fugues are tricky little pieces, which give both your brain and your fingers a workout…

…Ironically, the score for the pieces in Volume 2 has been accessible for free via IMSLP for years, and no one was interested. Once my recording was available, the very first piece was streamed more than 1 million times on Apple Music!!!…

…It makes you wonder how much more music is waiting to be discovered.

Ivan Ilić plays Antoine Reicha’s Etude no 1 


• Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 3: L’Art de Varier (coming soon)
• Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 2
• Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1

Ivan Ilić’s complete Discography:
at Chandos
at PrestoMusic
at AllMusic
at Magnatune

RTS Espace 2 Podcasts
Ivan Ilić’s Classical Music instalments for the Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2, which are downloadable as podcasts (.mp3, ca. 30); see, in particular, the series on the art of piano of Beethoven and Haydn:
Ivan Ilić’s Classical Music podcast series










Ivan Ilić performs Reicha: Etude Opus 97 no 8 in G major (Fugue) 

Ivan Ilić performs Reicha: Etude Opus 97 no. 11a 

2. (a) The year 2020 is the 250th Anniversary of the birth of both Beethoven and Reicha (1770), two friends and really two revolutionary figures in music composition and both also linked to Haydn and Albrechtsberger. For someone, Reicha can and must be considered even the very first act, de facto, of Contemporary Music and, in particular, thanks to his fundamental piano production of the beginning of the 19th century: do you agree with this interpretation? What’s your technical and artistic vision of Reicha and of his music and of his pianism in the then context of an important piano production by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven? What are the similarities? What the differences?

(b) You will soon publish the 3rd CD of your Series Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos). In this Album you’ll present Reicha’s Opus 57, L’Art de varier: what the position and the importance of this work in Reicha’s music production? Do you think Reicha’s Opus 57 is somehow a crucial work? Why?

A book could be – and should be – written about this subject!

Reicha wrote his most experimental compositions when he was in his twenties. In this early period he seems to have anticipated many of the concerns of 20th century composers, be it with asymmetric meters, imagining new abstract combinations of harmonies, or the use of quarter tones. If someone as iconic as Beethoven had done any of these things, they would be in every single music history textbook. But today awareness of Reicha’s maverick streak is limited to a handful of specialists.

In his middle period his works point more towards Romanticism. His L’Art de Varier, a 90-minute set of 57 variations on an original theme, has variations which sound just like Schumann, Liszt, and Alkan, although none of these composers was born when it was written (in 1803). When he moved to Paris and became professor of counterpoint at the Paris Conservatory, his compositional style became more conservative, perhaps more didactic.

So he doesn’t fit the mold of the way a composer is supposed to evolve, and it’s hard to know how to weigh the importance of these distinct styles within his output. Some historians, who are only interested in who does things first, are only interested in his 1st period, and perhaps certain elements of his 2nd period. And there are musicians who regularly perform pieces from his 3rd period who are completely unaware that the experimental music exists.

What I am trying to articulate is that in order for a composer to have a place in music history, we need to understand how they fit in with the other composers we already know. And I think the answer with Reicha is that today, in June 2020, it is too early to know. We are far from reaching a consensus because…

there are still many works which are in manuscript, and haven’t been played, or others which are published but only have 2nd-rate recordings, which may do more harm than good…

What seems clear to me is that Reicha deserves a place alongside Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, in terms of both the size and ambition of his solo piano writing.

Beyond that, it really depends on the intellectual curiosity of who you’re speaking with. Even in Haydn’s output for piano, you hear the same 5% of the works, to the detriment of the rest. For example, if you glance at the complete list of Haydn’s works, there is a Capriccio in G major which is rarely performed, but which is more inspired than many of his sonatas. Often, people don’t want to decide for themselves, they prefer to trust an expert’s judgement about which works are the best.

Zoltan Kocsis performs Haydn’s Capriccio for keyboard in G major  

There is one lucky aspect of programming Reicha side by side with Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven historically there is a strong link, but there is enough contrast to hold the interest. Reicha wrote a few big sonatas reminiscent of Beethoven, a few Haydnesque smaller ones, but the Opus 36 fugues sound like nothing either wrote, nor do the larger variations pieces. Reicha wrote that he perceived Mozart and Haydn to be the pinnacle of instrumental music, but that doesn’t mean he imitated them. I find that when we hear their works side by side, we learn more about Reicha, but we also learn more about the more famous composers, because we can understand more clearly what they didn’t choose to do, and the wide array of possibilities they had before them.

(b) You will soon publish the 3rd CD of your Series Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos). In this Album you’ll present Reicha’s Opus 57 L’Art de varier: what the position and the importance of this work in Reicha’s music production? Do you think Reicha’s Opus 57 is somehow a crucial work? Why?

Along with the Opus 36 Fugues, the Opus 97 Etudes, the Opus 102 Variations, and the experimental works I mentioned earlier, the Opus 57 Variations are among Reicha’s indisputable masterpieces for solo piano. I was not initially planning on including them in my CD series for Chandos. Although I had the score, I couldn’t make sense of it. But with the big 250th anniversary year looming it made sense to do something monumental, so we went ahead.

It’s important to keep in mind that when the piece was written, in 1803-04, it was by far the longest composition for solo piano after J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. So it has a unique place not just in Reicha’s opus but in music history. It predates Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations by a good 15 years, and once you’ve heard Reicha’s L’Art de Varier, the Diabelli Variations sound compact in comparison. Beethoven and Reicha’s friendship seems to have morphed into a rivalry during this period (1802-1808), and scholars have begun to find correspondences among the works they were writing, especially the string quartets and symphonies. A detailed comparison between the Diabelli Variations and L’Art de Varier would undoubtedly shed light on both works, but I don’t plan to be the one to do it.

Reicha seems to have had an obsession with self-improvement, and this may explain part of the motivation behind the way he composed L’Art de Varier. He wrote in his autobiography that he was at his best when he gave himself a compositional challenge, especially limitations which forced his imagination to invent solutions. This piece is the epitome of his ability to produce a cornucopia of variety out of small musical building blocks. What surprised me most, in contrast to other works of his that I have played, is the extreme, sometimes impractical technical demands. The frantic jumps spanning the entire keyboard, the thick chordal textures at breakneck speeds, the broken octaves, much of it is reminiscent Franz Liszt, who only studied with him twenty years later. Above all, it’s the piece’s relentless intensity. He was clearly not thinking about pacing the work to give the performer a break once in a while.

From a stylistic perspective, it’s difficult to know how to approach L’Art de Varier, because as you’re playing it you are reminded of music which was written 40-50 years later. Also, he was not a composer who actively performed his works in public. His approach to composition is closer to what many composers do today in the absence of a commission, or a specific situation or performer, the composer composes for themselves, and doesn’t have practicality in mind. I sometimes wonder if Reicha really imagined someone to perform a 90-minute solo piano work in public It seems unlikely. Even today, it is a difficult piece to programme.

Surprisingly, my experience researching and performing Morton Feldman’s music has been helpful. Learning how to pace a single 90-minute piece is utterly different from playing a 20-minute sonata, or even a 75-minute programme of varied works. In such a huge work, you have to patiently let events unfold, and trust that they will fall into place. The structure reveals itself in retrospect.



3. In August 2019 you published a magnificent, very special and unique CD Album, dedicated to Haydn Symphonies transcribed for piano by the German singer, conductor and composer Carl David Stegmann (1751-1826). It may sound incredible, but also this CD has a strong Bonn Music Circle background (like the friendship Beethoven-Reicha-Haydn in the 1790s), with Stegmann and the publisher Simrock all strictly linked to Bonn and Beethoven and with a common interest in Haydn! Moreover the very discovery of this series of Haydn-Stegmann’s works by you was particularly amazing: can you tell us the story? How did you choose then the 3 works (92, 75, 44) for this recording? What your experience of the audience enthusiasm in listening to your public performance of this Series of Haydn’s Symphonies transcriptions by Stegmann?

The transcriptions came to me as the result of an improbable sequence of events. A friend of mine, Veronika, moved to Cologne for work. She knew no one there, and one day, at the supermarket, she struck up a conversation with a woman in the vegetable aisle. They later met for drinks and became friends. Soon afterwards, the woman said that she had a present for Veronika, and drove to Veronika’s office to drop it off.

Upon her arrival, Veronika’s new friend unloaded two boxes, full of scores. She explained that she used to help an elderly neighbor carry her groceries. When she passed away, in her 100s, the woman left her younger neighbor a surprise. But Veronika’s friend couldn’t read music and was at a loss over what to do with the gift.

A few days later, in December 2015, Veronika called me and told me the story. She invited me to visit and dig through the scores, to see if there might be something worthwhile. I was skeptical, but we had not seen each other for some time. So six weeks later I traveled to Cologne.

The boxes had not been opened for decades, and they were full of thick, black dust. I’ll never forget having to wash my hands three times in a row after sifting through the scores, unable to get my hands clean. The collection was more eclectic than I had expected. The elderly woman – Anny Gries – had studied piano at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik, but gave up a career in music when she met her future husband, who needed help with his family’s pastry business. Still, Anny continued playing and bought a wide variety of scores, including contemporary music, Kölsche Lieder, and transcriptions.

When I noticed the transcriptions for solo piano of symphonies by Haydn, my interest was piqued. I knew Liszt’s transcriptions of Beethoven’s symphonies, but I was unaware of solo piano versions of any of Haydn’s symphonies. Veronika and I took a selection of scores to a local piano store, where I tried them out.

One of them was Stegmann’s transcription of Symphony No. 44. It sounded fantastic on the piano, despite my clumsy sight-reading. Two months later, I gave what was probably the first modern performance of that transcription, maybe even the first ever public performance. It was so well received that during the next eighteen months I played it often.

It’s unlikely that the transcriptions were meant to be played as concert repertoire in public. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm I encountered wherever I have played them persuaded me to make the recording, to allow more people to hear Stegmann’s wonderfully idiomatic arrangements.

I’m glad that you emphasize the Bonn connection between these projects, because if it wasn’t for my Reicha research, I never would have found the scores for the other two symphonies I needed to make the recording (nos 92 and 75). I was at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn recording a documentary series about Reicha, and because I knew that Stegmann was living in Bonn when he made the arrangements, and that he was published by his friend Simrock, also in Bonn, that it was possible that they might have some of the other transcriptions, as they have a fantastic music library. To my delight, they immediately found 20 out of the 30 transcriptions in their collection…

…It was lucky for me, because this is by far the greatest collection of Haydn/Stegmann transcriptions in Europe, and locating them would have been so difficult otherwise that I probably never would have pursued the recording!…

Out of those 20, I picked 92 and 75 because they were the other two most successful on the piano besides number 44. By coincidence, that means that the CD includes one really famous Symphony (92) and another which is almost never performed or recorded (75), which was an unintentional bonus!

Ivan Ilić performs Haydn/Stegmann: PRESTO from Symphony No. 44 Trauer





4. You are a great admirer, promoter and interpreter of Reicha, a revolutionary and fundamental music composer and theorist: so, what’s your relationship with modern and contemporary music/composers? What are your projects in this field? 

You have also a great interest in Multimedia & Cinema productions: what did you lead to work and produce this kind of projects (Radio Series, Website articles, Documentary Series on Reicha, 2 short films, etc.)? What’s your activity as Ulster University’s International Musician in Residence? What are your projects for the future?

The audience for modern and contemporary music is small, so it means I can only devote 15-20% of my time to it. But there are living composers who write music I feel an immediate connection to, and as a result I squeeze their pieces into programmes whenever I can. A few examples include Keeril Makan, Scott Wollschleger and, more recently, Melaine Dalibert. Most of what they write for piano attracts me, and I feel I can play well. But that kind of connection is rare.

Ivan Ilić plays: Music without Metaphor by Scott Wollschleger 

Another recent example is Hans Otte’s The Book of Sounds, which I perform live from time to time. The piece, written in the 1980’s, is about 70 minutes long, and learning it have a big effect on my musical life and outlook. Every time I play it live feels like a present I am giving to myself, like a big warm bath of sound. As you play it, it feels like you are playing the acoustic, not the piece.

Hans Otte : Le Livre des sons (Ivan Ilić) 

One of the reasons I began branching out into extra-musical activities is because when you play unusual music, curious audience members have so many questions: Who was the composer? Why are you playing this music? Why isn’t this music more well-known? How did you find out about it? Sometimes the questions come from people who enjoy the music and want to learn more. Other times people want to learn something before giving the music a chance. Either way, this popularization of little-known music demands a combination of pedagogy and advocacy which allows me to develop a direct rapport with listeners.

A key influence is my relationship with Swiss Radio, RTS Espace 2. For several years now I have been invited to participate, then co-produce long in-depth radio documentaries, which has led, more recently, to a series of videos. In fact I am about to travel to Lausanne to record 4 or 5 more, at the end of June. It’s a lot harder than it looks, because you have to combine playing and speaking, which is nerve-wracking, and find a way to present complex things in an accessible way which doesn’t oversimplify the truth. For example, how does music console us?

Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2: Why do we enjoy listening to sad music? (with Ivan Ilić) 

In order for someone like Reicha to develop a place in the repertoire, and in people’s minds, someone has to constantly campaign on his behalf, both behind the scenes and in public. And while I would love to just spend all my time at the piano, if I do that, only a tiny number of people will ever hear the music. Luckily, it feels doubly rewarding, because I know that I am honoring Reicha’s remarkable musical legacy, and bringing worthwhile music to so many people who otherwise would never have heard it.

Writing texts is important because in 2020 people spend so much time reading, especially online…

More than ever, texts are an essential vector for sharing information…

… But increasingly I find that short videos are an even more effective way to share unfamiliar music. The documentary series I wrote about Reicha had a tremendous impact, bigger than I anticipated. And part of that was the fact that I had access to hundreds of pages of information about him, but the format forced me to distill what I thought was the most important. And the beautiful filming by Martin Teschner made people want to watch and learn more.

My residence at Ulster University is related to this kind of work, because I am trying to embody a certain approach to music, and to inspire the next generation. The students are brilliant and all use technology to learn and share their music-making.

When I was their age, I dreamed of narrowing my focus, whereas they already have such wide musical horizons.

I visit the school a few times a year, and in addition to masterclasses, concerts, and individual lessons I am working on ways to crystallize what I have learned into pedagogical shortcuts so they can skip some of the hard lessons I’ve learned over the years. For example, there are several famous manuals for piano technique from the 19th century, that most teachers assign to their pupils. But few teachers have designed specific, structured ways to practice them, which help students gradually progress, while keeping their minds engaged. So I ended up doing that for myself, and am now about to share documents and videos with the students. For those motivated enough to do the hard work, they will improve dramatically.

But I’m also hoping they will criticize the method I’ve designed, and improve upon it.







5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

Some of Mozart’s best piano writing is hidden in the Sonatas for Piano and Violin, and I enjoy listening to those.

As for Haydn, I love the pieces on the margins, like the pieces for mechanical clock, the combination of joy and ingenuity they demonstrate. As it happens, I listen to Haydn much more often than I listen to Mozart.

An extra-rare fully restored clock with organ built by George Pyke (1766): in the video, towards the end, you can hear the organ clock performing Der Wachtelschlag (i.e. Call of the Quail) written by Haydn for organ clock. 





6. With Haydn’s compositions for mechanical clock, we see also a very peculiar phase of the development of the Art of Fugue (now applied to an automatic kind of interpretation), before the innovations introduced by Reicha in the period 1799/1803. And it is sure that this type of production by Haydn and Mozart somehow can be considered a forerunner of the modern digital treatment of the music…

It is a fact that Reicha’s revolutionary Op. 36 fugues were dedicated to Joseph Haydn with a poem (see supra)!

And also Mozart’s Violin Sonata K481 brings us towards the world of Mozart’s Jupiter famous Fugue/Fugoid of the last movement and the world of Haydn’s and von Dittersdorf’s own symphonic Fugue Sonatas and Fugoids!
Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

There are many, but one which comes to mind is Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer.

Fischer’s organ and harpsichord collections, in particular his Ariadne musica Neo-Organoedum (1702), were a fundamental model for J.S. Bach. From them J.S. Bach derived many themes and models reused and developed in his Wohltemperierte Clavier.

And here is a shortcut to finding interesting music read any biography of a famous musician, and every time their path crosses a musician you haven’t heard of, go straight to Wikipedia, YouTube, and IMSLP.

It’s always fascinating what you can discover.




7. And certainly, as you have just demonstrated, with these compositions by Fischer we’ve gone back, so to say, to that very authentic origin of a certain tradition of the Art of Fugue, that, through J.S. Bach’s great development, reached Reicha and his visionary masterly work of innovation!

Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Many works were written for Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772-1806), including Reicha’s L’Art de Varier, dedicated to the heroic soldier/composer.

He was an important musical patron and excellent amateur musician.

He also wrote several works which are well worthwhile, including Piano Quartets. I’d love to hear them live.






8. As you wrote in your Reicha Rediscovered Booklet No. 2:
«Like J.S. Bach, Reicha considered counterpoint to be the most noble, enduring style of composition».

We can complete, therefore, this parcours through the Art of Fugue from Fischer to Reicha with the score of the Fugue by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, to whom Reicha had dedicated his L’Art de Varier, your next CD Album soon to appear in the Chandos Records Series Reicha Rediscovered.

Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

Richard Taruskin’s The Oxford History of Western Music (online Site: Link) changed the way I understand the connection between the Viennese symphony and the Italian opera overtures which preceded it. He was my music history professor in college, and I always find his viewpoint thought-provoking and well-documented.

Another more indirect source of information is that whenever I see old used copies of composer biographies, especially old ones here in France, I always buy them. There are always unexpected anecdotes you don’t find online.


9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

There is a wonderful YouTube channel called EuroArtsChannel which hosts a huge archive of video recorded performances.

One video which comes to mind is the Hagen String Quartet performing Mozart’s K. 387.
You’ll find works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bach, von Weber, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Pergolesi, Handel, Cimarosa, Schubert, Liszt, Boccherini, Cherubini, Vivaldi, Stravinsky and many others…

… and great interpreters: Barenboim, Argerich, Solti, Lars Vogt, Mullova, Hagen Quartet, Sandrine Piau, René Pape, Raimondi, Pavarotti…


Euroarts: Mozart/Hagen Quartet, String Quartet K.387 Spring

Euroarts: Mozart, Ruth Ann Swenson in Martern aller Arten (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)

10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

I recommend Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, as they have a wonderful collection of instruments.

But just as important is to stroll the streets and contemplate the fact that Vienna’s population used to be 200,000 which would have allowed Beethoven and Schubert to run into each other on the street, or in a cafe…

… Just imagining that, while in Vienna, is magical.





And it’s sure that, if Beethoven and Schubert really did so, that will provide the scholarly discussion with a great amount of nourishment!

Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!



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Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.


Interview July 2019: 10 Questions with T. Hakkila


Tuija Hakkila: Official Sites
Tuija Hakkila Site: Tuija Hakkila Official Site
Tuija Hakkila: Tuija Hakkila (Twitter)
Tuija Hakkila: Tuija Hakkila (SoundCloud)
Tuija Hakkila: Tuija Hakkila (UniArts)
Tuija Hakkila: Tuija Hakkila (Nurmes)

Tuija Hakkila: CD Albums
Tuija Hakkila: Dussek: Piano Sonatas Vol. 4
Tuija Hakkila: Mozart: Complete Fortepiano Sonatas
Tuija Hakkila: Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello

1. After having already produced the critically acclaimed 6 voll. of Complete Mozart Sonatas for Fortepiano and 3 voll. of Complete Beethoven Sonatas for Fortepiano and Cello, in November 2018 you have released a CD Album with Piano Works by J.L. Dussek. What’s the origin of your interest in this MozartEra composer? How did you prepare yourself for this CD Album and how did you work to record it? What kind of choices you made to perform the music by this composer? Thanks to your special and exclusive experience, can you tell us how you see the music and pianism of Dussek among the works by Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven, also within a possible influence/difference game?

a. What’s the origin of your interest in J.L.Dussek, this MozartEra composer?

I have been fascinated by the 18th century music since more than 30 years ago. My interest first revolved around Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, but it very quickly broadened into the music of his contemporaries such as Emanuel and Christian Bach, Dussek, Hummel, Vanhal, Clementi, Schobert, Boccherini, Galuppi and others. The point is really that no composer develops in a vacuum, and that understanding the undercurrents in musical thinking of an era crystallizes ideas about a specific composition as well, through enlightening its context.

Jan Ladislav Dussek’s music is expressive and exciting, full of bold ideas and with a lot of musical drive. Some years ago I performed Dussek’s E flat major Piano Concerto with a Finnish period orchestra (it can be listened to on SoundCloud), and was overwhelmed by this inspired music and its wealth of ideas.


His music seems to be a mixture of gallant and Empfindsamer styles, and it uses operatic melismas and effects in adagios, thus extending its tentacles into the romantic era. Anachronistically his slow movements sometimes make us think of Chopin’s cantabile movements.

b. How did you prepare yourself for this CD Album and how did you work to record it? What kind of choices you made to perform the music by this composer?

As to my recent Dussek recording, I am grateful for the invitation by the Brilliant Classics to participate with one CD in the recording project of Dussek’s complete fortepiano sonatas. For the selection of the four sonatas on my CD, I went through tons of his fortepiano music, and picked up my favourite sonatas, which were quite a few, of course. I thought about the design of my program, and opted for covering many different periods in Dussek’s life and output. This was the most challenging option for myself, and I hope this proves to be gratifying for the listener as well. Dussek’s life’s story is an account on its own right, full of adventure, escapades, love stories and what not. I read accounts of his doings, and got some insight to his entourage and the ideological background of that tumultuous period.

My sonata selection on the CD starts in the period Dussek spent in Paris just before the French Revolution… I see him dashing from one salon to the next, performing and networking, and getting perhaps inspired by the revolutionary Zeitgeist, though at the same time socialising with the Queen Marie Antoinette. I have the chance to own an original, anonymous Viennese instrument from the 1790s, which I used for this early French sonata in A flat major (Op. 5 No. 3). The sonata, albeit in just two movements, is pure fireworks of liveliness and ideas, much in the vein of Mozart.


My fortepiano was imported to Finland sometime in the early 19th century by Bureau de musique in Leipzig, the music business of the composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister, a friend and publisher of Mozart’s among others. The soft sound colour, the resonance and the rich spectrum of overtones of this Walter type fortepiano are very special and inspiring.

I used this instrument also for the A major sonata (Op. 43), which represents the burgeoning virtuoso style of the time, and was written relatively late in Dussek’s English period (he fled his debtors to the Continent some time in 1799 or 1800).

Dussek’s earlier London period (he probably escaped to London to save himself from the turmoil of the French Revolution) is represented by a light divertimento sonata in B flat major (played on a replica of a Clementi fortepiano of 1799). To wrap up the program I chose the tragic and highly moving F sharp minor sonata, which sounds like an intimate confession of Dussek’s sorrow over the death of Prince Louis Ferdinand, for whom Dussek worked for several years in close personal interaction.

c. Thanks to your special and exclusive experience, can you tell us how you see the music and pianism of Dussek among the works by Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven, also within a possible influence/difference game?

I have the impression that the composers of that period, as any artist today would be, were influenced by anything they heard or played, anything, I say, that they considered, for various reasons, of some particular inspirational value. Musical scores were not only circulating in manuscript copies, but more and more frequently music was being printed and published through professional firms, and it was easier then to stay tuned about the state of music than at earlier times.


Thus one can imagine to hear echoes of Mozart’s melodic lines, Haydn’s richness of ideas and Clementi’s use of colours in Dussek’s compositions, if one wants, but nevertheless Dussek also comes out as a talent on his own right…

… in his works, when he reaches his best, he is always witty, emotional and charges his pieces with a lot of musical drive.

The typical trademarks of his music are the never-ending flow of new ideas and themes, his beautiful melodic ideas and the thrilling swing in his instrumental passages.

It is less discursive and operatic than Mozart, and he develops his ideas differently from the surprising Joseph Haydn, but he is personal, sincere and touching. Dussek was himself a virtuoso player and put this quality into display in his sonatas much more than Haydn or Mozart had ever done in their own ones. Muzio Clementi’s pianism in his serious sonatas is more in line with the way Dussek treats the instrument, and Beethoven of course rivalled anything written before him from the very beginning of his piano music production.



 • Mozart: Complete Sonatas for Fortepiano vol. 1- 6

• Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Fortepiano and Cello vol. 1 – 3

• Haydn: Flute Trios

• Dussek: Piano Sonatas

• Lithander Brothers: Piano Music

• Byström: Sonatas for Violin and Piano



2. You have released another two extremely interesting recordings with music by Haydn and with music by the Finnish Lithander Brothers, early Finnish 18th/19th centuries music which was in part also inspired by Haydn himself (i.e. Variations on a Theme by Haydn in A major). What led you to rediscover and produce this world premiere and critically acclaimed recording? How did you work to prepare this recording? Can you tell us about the Lithander Brothers? And what about the CD with Haydn trios? What’s your relationship with Haydn’s music? In your opinion, what was and what is the influence of Haydn on Finnish composers and music?

a. What led you to rediscover and produce this world premiere and critically acclaimed recording? How did you work to prepare this recording? Can you tell us about the Lithander Brothers?

If one is born in a small country outside big musical centres, like I was, one easily gets curious about the past music life in one’s own region as well. Thus I have done some digging into the repertoire of the turn of the 18th and the 19th centuries. The Lithander brothers are among the important exponents of this period. Other names worth mentioning would be Bernhard CrusellThomas Byström and Erik Tulindberg. They all are composing in the style of their international contemporaries, in all types of music, serious sonatas as well as lighter pieces, sets of variations, with a more or less prominent personal touch. As a matter of fact, I recorded the three exquisitely beautiful sonatas for violin and fortepiano by Thomas Byström with the violinist Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pilch… a fine addition to the duo repertoire for these two instruments.


As to the Lithander brothers, they were born in the 1770s, on Estonian ground. to Finnish parents. Carl Ludvig made a career for himself internationally in Sweden (Finland was until 1809 a part of the kingdom of Sweden), England and Germany, and his works were published even by Clementi himself. Fredrik, on the other hand, was active in Russia, St. Petersburg, which was a major musical capital, and nearly attached to the Finnish territory. Their music is inspired also by Mozart, Haydn, Clementi and probably even Dussek himself. They all were acquainted with a lot of repertoire by their contemporaries all that available as published and performed internationally.


In my mind, playing music by these lesser known composers sheds light on the aesthetic currents of the whole period. One starts making a clear distinction about what is conventional and what is more original in each composer’s thinking. And honestly, much of this now forgotten music is really musically valid and well worth to be performed, rediscovered and reproposed to the great public. In a certain way, I might add that for a performer it is a thrilling challenge to make this dormant music alive again.

Back in 2001, I was asked to make a recording with Lithander brothers’ music by a society promoting Finnish music. I spent one whole summer getting acquainted with their music production and choosing the pieces for the CD, with the idea of shedding light on different types of music, and making the CD program the most valuable, charming and fascinating possible.

b. And what about the CD with Haydn trios? What’s your relationship with Haydn’s music? In your opinion, what was and what is the influence of Haydn on Finnish composers and music?

Joseph Haydn – what a musician! What a composer!

In his time Haydn was the most famous composer in the world. His music was published everywhere, and his scores also landed in the far-away eastern provinces of Sweden (today’s Finland) through Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Reval (Tallinn). Stockholm and St. Petersburg were big capitals and melting pots of cultural thinking, and their influence radiated on the Finnish ground, Turku, Oulu and Kokkola being the most important towns in this regard.

Our old Haydn Trio CD of the 1990s is one of my darlings, a production which was inspired by the collaboration with the flautist Mikael Helasvuo and the cellist Anssi Karttunen. I had started the festival for early music in Hämeenlinna, Finland, which at the beginning focused on the many facets (and also lesser known composers) of the classical period. Our trio with flute was the core house band in the festival, and we played in all possible combinations, with other instruments too. The collaboration culminated in the recording sessions of this Haydn CD.

Last spring I came back to Haydn, and had a marvellous time playing and enjoying his music for months as I was preparing my recording for a double CD with eight of Haydn’s fortepiano sonatas from the 1760s (possibly 1750s sonatas included) and very early 1770s. The Finnish Ondine record company is going to publish it in 2020, and I am currently working on the text for the leaflet book.

Many recordings of the later sonatas of Haydn are published, but I wanted to challenge my thinking and musicianship with this a bit less played repertoire in the chiasm of an earlier gallant style, still pregnant with older elements and the more mature Viennese style of the burgeoning 1770s. The exquisite way of Haydn’s composing enthralled me completely. There is such a difference in the musical language between Mozart (whose music I find so easy to approach and to understand) and Haydn! Haydn manipulates his material in a more surprising and instrumental way; it is full of tension building, turns of mood within musical periods, witty twists for effect and such pure beauty, good-heartedness and love of music. Yes, he has now become a close friend, I dare say.



3. You have dedicated to Mozart and Beethoven two marvellous CD cycles: the 6 voll. of Mozart’s fortepiano sonatas and the 3 voll. of Beethoven’s Fortepiano and Cello. When did your passion for Mozart’s music start? And when did you think for the first time to perform Mozart’s music through a period instrument, a fortepiano? What’s the origin of your interest in Beethoven’s Sonatas for Fortepiano and Cello? Is there a different approach to treat Mozart’s and Beethoven’s music on an original Fortepiano?

a. When did your passion for Mozart’s music start?

My passion for Mozart’s music started early on, with the first touch at the age of five or six. I must have been twelve when I heard Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in a live performance for the first time, albeit with an amateur orchestra… and this was a true revelation for me.

Until then, even if my piano studies always were around conventionally classical repertoire, my main passion had been J.S.Bach and rock music… but suddenly there was this jive and swing of Mozart’s music, with its fascinating textural richness.

For some reason playing Mozart always came easy to me, and I performed a few of his piano concerti with orchestra already during my study years, and got smitten by this marvellous experience.

Tuija Hakkila
Mozart, 12 Variations for violin and piano KV359 in G major,
 La Bergère Célimène (Wien 1781)

b. And when did you think for the first time to perform Mozart’s music through a period instrument, a fortepiano?

As to the fortepiano, the story goes back to my early interest in the music of the Baroque era. As I sweated over performance practice questions when playing Bach on the modern piano, I finally felt some real relief in hearing Early Music Orchestras play that repertoire – this was in the late 1970s. I played a bit of harpsichord early on, but unfortunately did not pursue. During my Paris years then, in the 1980s, I followed radio programs on France Musique, and at one time the pianist/fortepianist Paul Badura-Skoda was invited to speak and play his recordings every morning during a whole week. He woke up my sleeping interest in the early pianos. Some time later I heard Malcolm Bilson’s Mozart fortepiano concerto recordings, of great importance, and had the occasion to play on a Stein fortepiano replica that my Finnish colleague Olli Mustonen had acquired. All that had a real huge impact on me. I ordered an instrument, a Stein copy, from the same Dutch-born maker, Henk van Schevikhoven, who had made Olli’s instrument. This led to my writing a letter to Malcolm Bilson, to take lessons with him… and I visited Cornell in Ithaca, NY, for lessons for different lengths of time. I also started to follow the discussion around the performance practice questions of the Mozart era, including the problematics of the choice of instruments. The artistic director of the Finlandia Records then called me at the beginning of the 90s, and offered me to record a complete Mozart fortepiano sonata set… what a strike of luck this was!



c. What’s the origin of your interest in Beethoven’s Sonatas for Fortepiano and Cello?

As to my Beethoven recording with the cello, the story goes back to my teen years, when I collaborated closely with the cellist Anssi Karttunen playing both modern and older repertoire for cello and piano. Thus I was tinkering with Beethoven’s sonatas for piano and cello from early on… at first of course on modern instruments. When we were offered the occasion to make a recording of his complete works on period instruments, we added the variation sets and the arrangement sonatas to the repertoire… what a treat again! Such declamation, such rhetorical music at times, so full of invention, power and surprises… just along the lines of thinking of C.P.E. Bach and Haydn.


d. Is there a different approach to treat Mozart’s and Beethoven’s music on an original Fortepiano?

The emotional expression in music is not really dependent on the instrument. The choice of an instrument and all the knowledge one can learn in books will never overrule the good taste that one can develop only with sincere feeling. However, many musical things change when playing on period instruments. The texture, which is such an important quality in the music of this period, becomes fuller and more expressive, as it were. The presence and liveliness of the accompanying figures can sound more natural. And, in chamber music context, it is a staggering experience to play with period instruments and hear the balance problems disappear: the massive sound of the modern piano is not overpowering the string instrument, even if the music is fierce and powerful. Suddenly the texture is heard in all its nuances. This is true of the performance of Beethoven’s music as well as Mozart’s and any other composer’s. Even the most dramatic texture can be rendered up to its full emotional energy without it becoming ridiculously out of scope.



4. You regularly organize International Masterclasses. You have been also the Artistic Director of various Music Festivals, Academies and Concerts Series, in particular of the Early Music Festival in Hämeenlinna, the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius. How do you think such experiences influenced, enriched and modeled your vision of MozartEra Music? What’s your very first technical advice to the musicians who want to begin playing 18th Century Music on a period instrument and in a more historically informed way? What your projects for the future?

a. How do you think such experiences influenced, enriched and modeled your vision of MozartEra Music?

The festivals and masterclasses have always been an integral part of my artistic work. Organizing events is a wonderful way to share your music with your community, to share ideas and questions you might want to raise. Festivals also offer an occasion to collaborate with colleagues and expose yourself to new ways of thinking around music. The way these experiences have influenced my understanding of the Mozart era is probably simply by setting myself high expectations for the performances and gaining musical understanding through these experiences.


b. What’s your very first technical advice to the musicians who want to begin playing 18th Century Music on a period instrument and in a more historically informed way?

My first advice for someone who wants to play on a period instrument and to work in an historically informed way would be just to start playing, to start exploring the repertoire and to start reading the sources of the past – preferably on a regular basis. Doing all this, one slowly develops one’s own musical TASTE. And taste is only built up through experience and honesty – honesty towards one’s own listening and one’s own musical feeling, with the risk of every now and again coming up with not such a great solution. This sort of “stumbling” is the tasty part of artistic experimentation and the source of any creative process.

I would start by learning about the conventions in notation of the 18th century. Then I would try to understand the hierarchy inside a bar and between the measures, I would experiment with the changing lilt in more danceful sections, look for the heavy and the light parts of the texture, try out effects, expression and timing in each section, and the list goes on, of course.

For wanna-be-fortepianists I would also strongly advice to acquire performing skills in continuo playing and in performing the music of the early 18th century, in its international styles. The fundamentals for the later repertoire can be found there. For this passion of mine, I had a copy of a Silbermann 1740s fortepiano made a few years back. I am thrilled by the possibilities it offers not only for the music of the likes of Emanuel Bach and Haydn, but it also works perfectly as a continuo and solo instrument in the repertoire of the early 18th century.

As to the period instruments, each instrument will communicate its potential only through sensitive and mindful practice. Each piano with its resonance is the most important guide to acquiring a sensitive touch. Each musical texture will also reveal its nature, and its role in the context of the piece and the period through experimentation and knowledge.

Finally, in my own learning path, getting advice from and playing with more experienced colleagues has been crucially important. It is especially rewarding when preparing solo repertoire, as what is de facto a lonely practice is, in this way, counterbalanced by another person listening and, hopefully, also with a sympathetic ear.


c. What your projects for the future?

For my future projects, besides my concert and recording sessions, I must say that teaching remains a fundamental centre of activities. Teaching can be a truly artistic activity, often tied with the psychological challenge of individual mentoring. The question is how to pass your vision to another person clearly but without imposition. How to give the student tools to find their own way of thinking and tools to cultivate their own musical sensitivity.

I have an intense activity of teaching as a Professor of Piano at the Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts in Helsinki, Finland. I teach modern piano to pianists and give performance practice workshops on historical pianos. Our University offers a Masters Program in Fortepiano, in collaboration between the Piano Department and the Early Music department. Thus we can flexibly tailor the curriculum of studies for each student.

As to my future recording projects, my Haydn double CD with early fortepiano sonatas will come out with Ondine next spring. A project on contemporary piano works is coming up, and hopefully a CD with Franz Danzi’s quintets for fortepiano with winds. I would love to record Schumann’s music, as well Lied and chamber as solo works, but these projects are still to be negotiated. We all know just too well in what kind of a turmoil the record companies are in these days.



5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

This is a tough but funny question!

There is so much music to be loved in the production of these two fellows!!!

In Mozart’s case, I immediately say Clemenza di Tito: but now all the other operas are shouting: «And why not me?»!…

… then the Symphony No. 39, the E flat major Piano Concerto K482, and so many chamber works which are just a miracle in music!

And what about Haydn?

I love his Piano Trios and The Seasons and his A flat major fortepiano sonata,… and those pieces just to name the first works I have in my mind now at this very moment…

Ah! It is impossible to choose!




6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

A good question!

I think Emanuel Bach (Haydn and Mozart revered as their music teacher/father) still today has not that great popularity he certainly deserves among the main audience, if we consider the great level of his importance in the history of music, both as a highly influential theorist and a highly influential beautiful composer.

Gottfried Müthel, a late student of J.S. Bach, is interesting, as Zelenka is, but the latter is of course of a slightly earlier period.

The significance of several neglected and forgotten female composers, among others the dedicatee of Dussek’s A flat major Sonata, Hélène de Montgéroult, is yet to be established, studied, discussed and re-evaluated…

In that period only very few female composers used to hit the public music scene, with main public works such as operas or symphonies: Haydn’s and Mozart’s friend von Martinez was certainly one of them. They were usually more active in a chamber music context, and there might be some music works of a certain value which are still hiding from us.




7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Gottfried Müthel’s Sonata for Two Fortepianos is certainly a first piece, I have in my mind now, and then Boccherini’s chamber music works.

However, I think that also Haydn’s Piano Trios, which are, without doubt, the cornerstone of the chamber music repertoire, should be performed and studied much much more…

And I think that also Beethoven’s String Quartets should be played with the same urgency.



8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

One should follow two principal ways…

One should try to directly read the source literature of the period, including, for instance, Emanuel Bach’s and Quantz’s treatises, both fundamental works in their genre.

On the other hand, there are various interesting modern books, which are based on a selection from original historical sources. Under this respect, a good handbook useful to keyboard players is Sandra Rosenblum’s Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music. And I’ve really loved also Leonard Ratner’s Classic Music: Expression, Form and Style from the 1980s.


9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Malcolm Bilson’s video Knowing the Score can be a good introduction to understanding the performance challenges one can find in the works written in the classical style.

The understanding of each composer’s notational practices is crucial to being free to interpret it.



10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

So many European courts, castles and palaces are really inspiring in this regard, be it in German lands, Italy, France or England!

    A) Potsdam
There is the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam near Berlin, where Frederick II was reigning from the 1740s onwards, and where C.P.E. Bach and J.J. Quantz, among others, were hired as court musicians. The Berlin Aufklärung circles incited them to write their important treatises, which both of course had a huge impact on the future generations of composers and musicians. Haydn for instance credited Emanuel Bach to be his sole mentor, and Mozart was generous in his remarks on Bach, and so was Beethoven.



    B) Dresden
The Dresden court was crucially important of course, having many Italian musicians among the court musicians (and Italian fortepianos too, by the way), and being a melting pot of musical ideas of the period. J.S.Bach and Gottfried Silbermann, among others, were closely in contact with the court.


    C) Eisenstadt
And there is Eisenstadt with the fabulous Eszterhazy Palace and gardens. They managed to hire the Big Shot talent that Haydn was already early on, and the place became, thanks to Haydn and his orchestra, a town well worth the visit for anybody interested in music.


    D) Vienna
However, the city of Vienna continues to be the greatest inspiration for my love of the late 18th and the early 19th century. If you get acquainted with the palaces and the churches where musical performances took place, and if you visit the homes and the cafés where the artists lived and loved, you might get an idea of the context the music of that period was written in.




Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!


Copyright © 2018 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

CD Spotlight July 2019: Haydn on the Moon: 1969-2019 50th Anniversary


Haydn on the Moon

Haydn on the Moon.
One of the funniest and most
brilliant operas by Haydn!

July 1969-2109
50th Anniversary
First man on the Moon.

Philips Classics



Impossible Interviews March 2019: F. Danzi


Who is Franz Danzi?

Mozart’s 1778 Mannheim-Paris Tour (240th Anniversary 1778-2018/1779-2019) is an important turning point in Mozart’s life. Even though Mozart’s main target was apparently that of finding a solid music job position (at least, this was the intention of Leopold), Mozart seemed more interested in following other different paths, among them, to build a strong personal liaison with the Mannheimers… and probably he was right.

Mozart wants Mannheim instead of Salzburg (1777-1781)

A part from the dispute with Colloredo about Mozart’s violin playing at court (which de facto caused Mozart to leave Salzburg for his Mannheim-Paris Tour), Mozart’s choice to reach and stay in Mannheim and to cultivate the friendship of the composers and musicians there (even against the opinion of an extremely angry and irritated Leopold), according to his own letters, was also due to the provincialism of Salzburg cultural environment.
Beside Michael Haydn and Eberlin and a few great virtuoso players, Salzburg, at that time and under Colloredo, had not much to offer in terms of real State-of-the-Art musical practice. That’s why Mozart’s necessity to find an environment of like-minded people and of people on a similar professional level was a fundamental target of his 1777-1779 Tour across Europe… unfortunately more fundamental than a solid job position.
It is a fact that Leopold’s own account about the concerts organized in Salzburg, out of the strict Court-life, is really rather gloomy with its description of an arena of semi-professional and amateurish individuals performing (almost always badly) good music, now practically disfigured. And we can image how harmful such a provincial environment would have been if the natural talents of Mozart had got accustomed to nourishing his soul with such low level daily practices.
If we see Mozart’s 1777-1779 tour through his eyes and in this way, we well understand why Mozart (against his own father’s will) preferred to stay and live in Mannheim (and then in Munich) also without job and gratis et amore rather than to live in a culturally and professionally harmful environment, like the Salzburg of Colloredo’s years.
Even though the Cannabichs, Wendlings, Ramms and the other Mannheimers really belonged to a bad genre of friends (as Leopold wrote many times in his letters from 1777 to 1781: according to Leopold the old Cannabich was probably the real person responsible for the failed appointment of Mozart as Mannheim Kapellmeister in those years), Mozart knew that the cultural and professional level of those composers, of those musicians, of those conductors and that of their families was much higher than that that could be found in Salzburg at his time…
Mannheim orchestra was considered one of the best ever in Europe and the compositions and the music style of the Mannheimers were considered the cutting edge of their period… and Mozart wanted to stay with the avant-garde… wanted to study the avant-garde… wanted to master and further develop the avant-garde at any cost (i.e. also without money and without job)… and, in the end, he really did it… and, after all, if we consider the quality of his masterpieces imbued with so many Mannheim theories and ways of musical practice, Mozart was right and his father was wrong…
Probably Franz Liszt would say that it is exactly this kind of tragic choice that made Mozart a great artist.

Another aspect about the Mannheim Tour, which is usually not sufficiently investigated, is the fact that Mannheim, being a great orchestra, was considered also a great school for conductors. As a matter of fact, one point of dispute with Colloredo in 1777, before the Mannheim Tour, was that Mozart was treated in Salzburg only as a first violin, and this caused quarrels of any kind. After his Mannheim Tour and experience, in 1779 Mozart (at least!) managed to get a position in Salzburg through a brand new job contract and, apart from a better salary (but burdened with heavy debts), Mozart, finally, managed to be treated (and considered) as a conductor from the keyboard…
The fact that the old Cannabich and his son Carl and also then the other Mannheimer Franz Danzi were all considered important conductors is somehow fundamental.

The Mannheim Triangle: Mozart, Vogler and their Pupils

Franz Danzi was a young cellist of Mannheim orchestra in 1778 and a great admirer of Mozart. Aloysia Weber was both a pupil of Mozart and a love interest of Mozart. von Weber was a close relative of Mozart through his wife Constanze Weber (sister of Aloysia). All these people around Mozart were Mannheimers.
A curious aspect of this story is that Franz Danzi, Aloysia Weber and von Weber were all, at the same time, pupils of that Abbé Vogler (founder of the music school of Mannheim) that Mozart considered a personal enemy (!?).
However, it is a fact that Mozart disliked Abbé Vogler publicly and in his letters, but studied Vogler’s music theory manuals and further developed his own music style by following the instructions of Abbé Vogler and by further developing them through an important practical application.
Moreover, Leopold Mozart, as a music theoretician himself, liked and supported Abbé Vogler and his theories.
But still in 1781 the most important Mannheim pupil of Vogler of that period, another Mannheimer called Peter Winter (1754-1825), was in Vienna, now as a pupil of Salieri, and started a violent defamation campaign against Mozart and the other Mannheim child, Constanze Weber. By spreading the false word of mouth that Mozart was going to ruin Constanze, by making her his personal slut, forced Mozart to prepare, in December 1781, even a written marriage contract for Constanze… Peter Winter caused many problems to Mozart, who had many quarrels with Constanze’s mother and Constanze’s own guardian. In his important letter Vienna 22 December 1781 Mozart wrote: «I may say that on account of Vogler [Peter Winter] has always been my worst enemy». So one may wonder why the Danzis and the Webers, instead, are friends of Mozart…
In 1797 the Mannheimer pupil of Vogler Peter Winter will be the only composer who accepted to write the sequel of The Magic Flute for Schikaneder, Das Labyrinth: Paul Wranitzky refused the offer, as a form of respect for Mozart and his family.
This story is an example of how Mozart’s relationship with Mannheim environment was, somehow, a strange triangulation of music professionalism, Freemasonry connections and wild music rivalry.

Another Mannheim Family of Musicians: the Danzis
Nonetheless, we can say that, after all, Mozart liked the Mannheimers more than the people in Salzburg: the Mannheimers were, in any case, real music professionals, while most of the Salzburgers were just semi-professionals or simple amateurs, often even of bad level.
So the Mannheim family of the Danzis was that kind of family of music professionals of high level Mozart wanted to be in connection with.
The old Danzi was Innocenz Danzi, the famous first cellist at the Mannheim Court since 1754 and whose playing Mozart admired very much. Old Danzi had three children: Johann, who became violinist; Franziska, who became an important international Opera singer (better known as Lebrun, the surname of her husband, the famous oboist Ludwig August Lebrun, another Mannheimer); Franz, an important cellist, who became an important conductor and composer and a great promoter of Mozart and von Weber.
To understand the kind of relationship that existed between the Mozarts and the Danzis one must read a fundamental letter by Leopold Mozart: Vienna, 21 February 1785.
«We lunched on Friday, the 18th, with Stephanie junior, just the four of us and Herr Le Brun, his wife, Karl Cannabich [i.e. son of the old Cannabich, director/conductor of the Mannheim orchestra, who became also a famous conductor and who wrote also a famous Cantata in memory of Mozart] and a priest. Let me tell you [i.e. Nannerl] at once that there was no thought of a fast-day. We were only offered meat dishes. A pheasant as an additional dish was served in cabbage and the rest was fit for a prince. Finally we had oysters, most delicious glacé fruits and (I must not forget to mention this) several bottles of champagne… The two concerts which Herr Le Brun and his wife are giving in the theatre are on Wednesday, the 23rd, and Monday, the 28th. All the boxes for the first concert were sold out on the 18th. These people are going to make an enormous amount of money.»
Furthermore, in 1790 Franz Danzi married a famous music pupil of Leopold Mozart himself, the excellent opera singer Maria Margarethe Marchand, and, just as a curiosity, let us remember that Franziska Danzi Lebrun was born and died in the same years as Mozart… 1756 and 1791!

Munich, before 4 November 1790
Mozart to his wife
«You can well imagine that I have had a good time with the Cannabichs, Herr Le Brun, Ramm, Marchand and Brochard, and that we have talked a great deal about you, my love. […] PS. Gretl [i.e. Maria Margarethe Marchand former pupil of Leopold] is now married to Madame Le Brun’s brother [i.e. Franz Danzi], so her name is Madame Danzi.»

Franz Danzi as Composer
Danzi wrote a great number of Operas, Ballets and Theatre Music Works (Incidental Music). Unfortunately most of his Opera/Theatre works went completely lost and, furthermore, those few still extant scores are presently incomplete or in a miserable state, in most cases… And this is a great loss, because, as far as we know from the surviving fragments, Danzi’s Music Theatre creativity was really original and innovative to such an extent, that various scholars consider Danzi the actual forerunner of his friend von Weber’s musical world, in particular the von Weber of the Freischütz.
As a matter of fact, Danzi started working on Operas, as a pupil of Vogler (who preferred the highly dramatic theatre music, as a musical incarnation of the spirit of Shakespeare: see also Vogler’s 1777-1779 theory works), following in the footsteps of a few experiments on the Singspiel by conjugating the approach of Gluck with that of a few Mannheimers like Holzbauer (and before Mozart’s Serail). Then a fundamental interest of Danzi in Opera Music themes like scenes full of Magic and the rendering of horrendous supernatural situations was, without doubt, an important cause of inspiration for his close friend von Weber (another Mannheimer of Freemasonry descent, relative of Mozart and of his wife Constanze Weber): both friends, Weber and Danzi, were pupils of Vogler and, at the same time, strictly connected to the family of the Mozarts.
Other peculiarities of Danzi’s Opera music certainly reveal the truest pupil of the school of Vogler: pre-romantic atmospheres (based on the musical rendering of the Shakespearean drama), the large use of the minor keys in his compositions, the large use of chromaticism techniques (typical of Vogler and of the second period Mozart and Haydn, probably derived from Vogler himself and from his theory books), the use of dissonant harmony techniques.
Other characteristics of Danzi’s music can be found also in his Orchestral works and in his Chamber music: a throbbing rhythm full of vitality and energy, great beautiful melodies rich also in virtuoso passages and a great passion for the study of an accurate orchestration, based of a full charming sonority which can underline well-built and well-studied nice contrasts of the various instruments chosen for the compositions.
Most of the modern listeners know Danzi only from his marvellous Chamber Music and Concerto works, which, though full of an original and very personal interpretation of the Mannheim tradition and of Mozartian/Hummelian spirit, usually tend to less reveal the dramatic strength of Danzi full-orchestra creative genius. And that’s why the 2nd movements of his Chamber Music/Concerto works always deserve particular attention, for their meditative and sometimes a bit melancholic atmospheres, and that’s why also the musical treatment of the single instruments, as solos, and the odd and rare combinations of instruments are extremely interesting: Danzi’s Chamber Music has certainly an Orchestra perspective.
Among his most remarkable works: the many works for cello, those for bassoon, the works featuring rare combinations of instruments, like those for viola, basson and horn, his Chamber Music for various combinations with Winds.
The fragments and what remains of his Operas practically are not available yet… Nonetheless some good recordings of Danzi’s Symphonies (for example, especially the remarkably dramatic Symphony P. 221, which was written before 1804, that’s to say before Beethoven’s Eroica) may give an idea of his style… his powerful orchestra style, which can be defined, in some ways, full of proto-romantic nuances and musical ideas, which will re-appear much later in the symphonies by Schumann, Schubert and Mendelssohn: most of Danzi’s symphonies belong to the period 1790-1803!
Just to begin with, here 6 CD Albums to build an approach to Danzi’s pre-Weberian music world: The Complete Symphonies (cpo), The Revolutionary Flute Quartets (Uppernote), Psalms (cpo), the highly critically acclaimed Ouverture – Piano & Cello Concertos (Sony; see BBC Magazine), Overtures & Flute Concertos (Coviello), J. Galloway & S. Meyer Danzi’s Concertos (RCA Victor)…
… And then the brand new magnificent series of Danzi’s Chamber Music Music for Piano and Winds performed by the great Ensemble F2 (S. Devine, J. Booth, A. Scott, et alii): the first 2 voll. are already available at





Franz Danzi as the Mannheimer Promoter of Mozart and Weber
In a world without radios and recordings, the promotion of music composers and of their works followed various paths: more concerts, more operas on stage (even though sometimes highly manipulated) and the art of transcriptions, arrangements and variations.
Danzi was a great promoter of Mozart and of his music and involved his friends in this activity, i.e. in particular Spohr and Weber (who was closely linked to Mozart and his wife Constanze Weber through a Mannheim family of Freemasons: the Webers).
Thus Danzi carried on an intense activity of production of Mozart’s operas and of Mozart’s works with the precise intent to reach the largest audience possible through his cultural events on Mozart, in particular across Germany, Northern Italy and Bohemia.
Among such activities, there was also Danzi’s interest in transcriptions of Mozart’s works: the most famous one the arrangement of 16 nos. of The Magic Flute for a String Quartet (ca. 1800).
Like another Mannheim friend of Mozart (the young Cannabich), Danzi wrote also a secular cantata to be performed on 5 December in memory of Mozart (1805). The Mannheimer Constanze Mozart usually adored such works, in particular the 1790s cantata by the Mannheimer young Cannabich, a composition which may have highly influenced also Beethoven in his writing his Choral Fantasy and his 9th Symphony.
Great friend of Weber (another pupil of Vogler and relative and great admirer of Mozart), Danzi worked a lot to develop the style of Opera and the masterpieces by von Weber were largely based also on Danzi’s theories on Opera. And Danzi, then, became a great promoter of Weber’s own operas by producing them in German theatres, in particular PreciosaDer Freischütz and Euryanthe, so to get the widest diffusion possible for Weber’s music.

Franz Danzi, Cleopatra Duodrama, Overture (1780) World Premiere Recording: here some similarity to Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music K477 (1785).

Franz Danzi, Flute Concerto D Minor, 3rd Mv. Polacca (1805)


In 1997 Dr. Hans Schneider has published the Correspondance of Franz Danzi (1785-1826, 339 p.).

Various works by Franz Danzi are available at IMSLP:
Franz Danzi: Scores

A) Compositions by Franz Danzi:

• Various Arrangements of Works by Mozart, in particular 16 nos. from The Magic Flute for String Quartet

• Operas (many lost)
•  Azachia (1780)
•  Cleopatra (duodrama, 1780)
•  Laura Rosetti (Singspiel, 1781)
•  Der Sylphe (Singspiel, 1788)
•  Die Mitternachtsstunde (comic opera, 1788)
•  Der Triumph der Treue (grosse Oper, 1789, lost)
•  Der Quasi-Mann (1789, lost)
•  Deucalion et Pirrha (ca. 1795)
•  Der Kuss (Singspiel, 1799, lost)
•  El Bondocani (1802, lost)
•  Iphigenie in Aulis (1807, lost)
•  Dido (melologue, 1811, lost)
•  Camilla und Eugen (Singspiel, 1812)
•  Rubezahl (1813, lost)
•  Malvina (1814)
•  Turandot (Singspiel, 1817, lost)
•  Die Probe (1817)
•  L’Abbé de l’Attaignant (grosse Oper, 1820)

• Ballets & Theatre Music (many works, most of them lost)

• Sacred Music
•  Preiss Gottes (cantata, 1803)
•  Abraham auf Moria (oratorio, 1808)
•  Der 6. Psalm op. 60 (1823)
•  Der 128 Psalm op. 65 (1823)
•  9 Psalms
•  ca. 10 Masses
•  variousSalve Regina
•  various works:Te DeumAve Regina etc.

• Vocal Music not Sacred
•  Das Freudenfest (cantata, 1804)
•  Kantate am Jahrestag von Mozarts Tod zu singen (cantata, 1805)
•  ca. 100 Lieder (among them Opp. 14, 15, 19, 69, 70)
•  Balladen und Romanzen Op. 46
•  8 Volkslieder
• Vocal Music with Piano (among various pieces):
•  6 dreistimmige Gesänge Op. 16
•  8 vierstimmige Gesänge Op. 17
•  3 Soldatenlieder Op. 58
•  Gesänge der Hellenen Op. 72

• Piano Solo
•  3 Sonatas 4-Hands (among them Op. 2, Op. 9)
•  Sonatas Op. 3, Op. 12, Op. 33
•  Various pieces 4-Hands Op. 11
•  Délassament Musical 2-Hands & 4-Hands 8 voll. (1807)
•  6 Pièces Faciles Op. 73 (ca. 1824)
•  Marches des Chevaliers
•  Marsch aus Agnes Bernauerin
•  6 Monferrine (dubious)

• Symphonic Music
•  7 Symphonies
•  Various Sinfonie Concertanti

• Concertos
•  1 Concerto for Harpsichord
•  2 Concertos for Piano (among them Op. 4)
•  5 Concertos for Cello
•  Concertino for Cello Op. 46
•  5 Concertos for Bassoon
•  4 Concertos for Flute
•  Concerto for Flute & Clarinet Op. 41
•  Concerto for Clarinet & Bassoon Op. 47
•  Concerto for Horn
•  Andante for Harpsichord & Strings
•  3 Pots-pourris for Clarinet
•  1 Pots-pourri for Violin Op. 61

• Chamber Music
•  Sextet Op. 10
•  Sextet Op. 15
•  3 Quintets Op. 66
•  3 Quintets for Piano & Winds Opp. 41, 53, 54
•  9 Quintets for Winds Opp. 56, 67, 68
•  3 Quintets Op. 50
•  19 Quartets Opp. 5, 6, 7, 16, 29, 44, 55
•  3 Quartets with Bassoon Op. 40
•  Pièces détachées
•  Trio with Piano
•  3 Sonatas with Piano
•  3 Trios Op. 7
•  Trio Op. 23
•  Sonata for 2 Pianos & Violin Op. 42
•  6 Sonatas for 2 Cellos Op. 1
•  24 Petits Duos for 2 Cellos
•  3 Duos for Viola & Cello
•  3 Duos for Viola & Cello Op. 9
•  2 Sonatas with Piano Opp. 28, 44
•  2 Sonatinas with Piano
•  Variations with Piano onO Clori, lass ihn schwinden
•  Sonata for Cello & Piano
•  3 Petits Duos for Cello & Flute Op. 64
•  Sonata for Basset Horn or Cello Op. 62

• Manuals for the singers
•  18 Exercises pour le chant (s.a.)
•  Leçons de vocalisation (s.a.)
•  Singübungen für Sopran 2 voll. (s.a.)
•  Neue Singübungen editio aucta of previous one (s.a.)

Copyright © 2018 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

CD Spotlight March 2019: Rossini Edition 2018: A Gift for the 150th of a Great Mozartian


Rossini Edition 2018

Just few know that Rossini
has been one of the greatest
Mozartians ever… and also
a great Haydnian.
On the occasion of the 150th
Anniversary 1868-2018,
Warner Classics has released this
beautiful 50 CDs Box
featuring great & legendary Rossini
performers: 13 complete operas,
3 sacred works, 5 complete recitals,
many rarities & much more!

Warner Classics



Interview January 2019: 10 Questions with L. Woodruff


Lucy Woodruff: Official Sites
Lucy Woodruff Site: Lucy Woodruff & Divas & Scholars Official Site
Lucy Woodruff: Divas & Scholars (Twitter)
Lucy Woodruff: Lucy Woodruff (LinkedIn)
Lucy Woodruff: Lucy Woodruff (Facebook)
Lucy Woodruff: Divas & Scholars (Facebook)

1. Last December you presented, for Divas & Scholars, a special soirée entirely dedicated to Mozart and his masterpiece opera, Le Nozze di Figaro 1786, a soirée in company of rising star soprano Sky Ingram and ENO repetiteur Richard Peirson. Can you give a detailed account of that very special all Mozart soirée to our readers?

Divas & Scholars’ evening in December at the elegant Club at The Ivy was dedicated to Mozart’s great opera buffa Le nozze di Figaro. We began the session with a recording of the overture while everyone took their seats. I featured the soprano Sky Ingram and paired her with the English National Opera repetiteur Richard Peirson. Richard has worked on Mozart’s operas during his career at the ENO and Scottish Opera, so I felt he was well qualified to impart some interesting insights as well as successfully accompany our singer. Sky is described in her Royal Opera House biography as a rising star and she has performed with them several times to critical acclaim in both an early opera and a new work. Her repertoire includes La Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze and this event was a great opportunity for her to sing Countess’ two exquisite arias and to talk about her experiences playing this intriguing role. She captivated the audience with her performances.


Richard gave some interesting background information on Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s adaptation of the Beaumarchais source. The story contains an incendiary concept, of servants standing up to their masters and being impertinent and familiar. With revolutionary ideas abounding in Europe before the French revolution, this was a daring theme for performances largely attended by the wealthy and the aristocracy. Sky brought out in her singing and contextual commentary that the Countess is the most serious character in the farce. Her longing for the true love and fidelity of her errant husband is evident in her lovelorn Porgi amor and plaintive Dove sono i bei momenti (Sky’s favourite aria by Mozart!). Sky talked about her character being crushed by the lecherous activities of the Count. She pointed out that the excited young Rosina of Beaumarchais’ previous play about The Barber of Seville is now almost unrecognisable, although she recovers some of her old joie de vivre plotting with the servants to expose and ridicule the Count.


As the evening progressed Richard covered the twists and turns of the complicated plot while playing on the piano snippets from the score of interesting moments to listen out for. We discussed productions values, how directors bring out the comedy and develop characters. We then presented a very interesting session where Richard coached Sky as in a rehearsal. They worked on some recitative which she knew well in the original Italian but if she was cast at the ENO would have to learn anew in English. The Countess’ recitative reveals her fluttering emotional state in addition to moving the story forward.

I thought it would be interesting to play a recording of Sull’aria and to mention how Mozart crops up in contemporary culture. This beautiful duet was used movingly in the popular film The Shawshank Redemption.

In all our events we also focus on our singer. So we learnt about Sky’s vocal technique, how she approaches the singing of a Mozart role and other aspects of the demands of her life as an opera singer. Then as a grande finale she sang Susanna’s aria Deh vieni, non tardar written for a soubrette soprano and not therefore ordinarily a role that Sky, a lyric soprano, would be cast for.

After the fascinating talk and recital members of the audience were able to continue the conversation about Le nozze di Figaro with our performers over dinner.

December 2018 Divas & Scholars’ Soirée dedicated to Mozart’s
Nozze di Figaro with rising star soprano Sky Ingram











2. Can you tell us about the origin of Divas & Scholars? And what the mission and the achievements of Divas & Scholars through the years since its birth? Can you tell us about some marvellous moments during the various soirées and events organized by Divas & Scholars?

Divas & Scholars started like many good ideas with a conversation at a party. I was telling a Royal College of Music professor Jean-Philippe Calvin about the passion I had developed for opera when I lived in Vienna. We thought it would be fun to hold soirees in my home and Jean-Philippe suggested an acquaintance of his who might enjoy performing. Later that year in 2011 the soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and accompanist Alice Turner came to my house and gave a wonderful performance of opera arias to an invited audience of around thirty people. She performed some Mozart of course – Fiordiligi’s aria Come scoglio from Così fan tutte. It was some time ago but I still remember everyone who attended was very impressed. I think I may have charged a small entry fee and served champagne. It was a success and Alice Turner asked another of her colleagues, soprano Natalia Romaniw to do another recital in my house. This time we included some contextual information about the operas and some Q&A and it was clear that the guests very much enjoyed talking to the performers over drinks. I continued organising more events like these and introduced a speaker into the mix. Our first speaker was Mel Cooper the former Classic FM presenter and founder. He was extremely knowledgeable, and we worked together for some time in this format and Jean-Philippe also gave a few lectures. After a while it became clear I needed to find a more professional venue with some catering, so I moved D&S to the prestigious Cadogan Hall and started offering both lecture-recitals and also masterclasses for young performers with some very established opera singers such as Nelly Miricioiu with David Gowland from the Jette Parker ROH Young Artists programme and with Rosalind Plowright. Thanks to my personal connection with Nick Prettejohn (Chairman of the RNCM) I teamed up with the Royal Northern College of Music and we took to the main stage with a three-day course focusing on early opera and in particular Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse.

Young artists from the conservatoire sang and Lynne Dawson (famous for singing at the funeral of Princess Diana), director Stefan Janski and others gave an interesting commentary about performing early Baroque opera. Subsequently I offered many performance opportunities in a prestigious London venue for Manchester-based young singers on the RNCM opera course.

Without sounding too pompous I suppose the mission of Divas & Scholars is to promote the art form, opera, to a wider audience but in intimate surroundings. People love meeting and interacting with the singers who ordinarily they would only see at a distance on stage. The events offer a platform for established opera-insiders, whether they be directors, conductors, repetiteurs or opera singers to talk about what they do. And I team up young as well as rising star singers with more well-known artists. Divas & Scholars is a network and so many useful connections have been made at the events. One important part of what we do is give some useful publicity for up-and-coming opera singers too. Another exciting element of the events is the intimacy and proximity to the performers, and feeling the vibrations of these powerful voices is a visceral thing. It is fascinating to observe their vocal technique close-up.







3. How your many cultural activities (i.e. Thailand, the University of London, recitals and masterclasses at Cadogan Hall) led you to develop the project of Divas & Scholars?

My background in the arts and interest in culture of all kinds lead me to this project. Operas are stories taken from ancient mythology, bible stories, Shakespeare and other playwrights, history and contemporary issues. I studied both Classical Civilisation and History of Art at the University of London and these subjects are so linked to opera. Visual arts are very important in my life and operatic productions use elements of material culture combined with some of the greatest music. Singing has always been a feature of my life from an early age. I have always sung in choirs, from my school days until now and singing lessons have given me an insight into the voice. Although I might not be good enough to be a soloist myself, I have an informed appreciation of really good singers. Thanks to my husband’s career in Finance I lived in Thailand for a few years and studied South East Asian art while I was there. This culminated in my doing a Master’s degree at SOAS. I was subsequently invited to lecture on some of the short courses they run for external students. This was something I enjoyed and inspired me to someday run a similar programme for people interested in learning about opera!





4. Divas & Scholars has collaborations with many important groups and associations, in particular Opera RaraThe Grange Festival and the National Opera Studio. Can you tell us about your work with such institutions? And what your projects for the future?

Divas & Scholars is delighted to be associated with various important institutions and companies.

A) National Opera Studio
I was very excited when the renowned National Opera Studio agreed to collaborate on an Opera Studies course throughout 2018. They gave quasi-academic accreditation to the course and their Young Artists performed at each of the sessions. We did this series of ten evening sessions in the glamorous ballroom at the Lansdowne Club, Mayfair. Our lecturers included the star soprano and Glyndebourne chatelaine Daniel De Niese who we teamed up with a young mezzo-soprano and they talked about Singing Handel and the trouser roles. Another amusing evening was spent in the company of the veteran baritone Donald Maxwell who talked about Acting in Opera and directed performances by Angela Simkin. Angela has since made a successful debut with the Royal Opera House. Perhaps of most interest to your readers would have been the lecture given by the opera writer and Telegraph critic Rupert Christiansen on A personal journey through Mozart’s operas. Illustrating this talk with a lovely recital of Mozart’s arias was the Chinese soprano He Wu who recently performed with Joseph Calleja at the Royal Festival Hall. Marianne Cornetti, the spectacular American mezzo gave the most wonderful talk on her roles: Witches, bitches and queens!. She also generously sang an aria from almost all of them! We teamed her with the heldentenor Neal Cooper who on the night after had to step in at the last minute at the Royal Opera House to sing Tannhauser. He has since debuted at the Met. Nadine Benjamin also sang with Marianne Cornetti and recently she has been enjoying great reviews for her role in the ENO Porgy and Bess. The conductor and former music director of ENO Edward Gardner talked about Conducting Tchaikovsky and rehearsed with a talented young baritone who recently told me it had been a most useful connection for him. It was hugely touching when at the end of the series, an elderly retired dentist and opera fan wrote to me that the series had given him the most enjoyment of his opera-going life, especially when I sat him next to Nelly Miriciou at dinner!


B) Opera Rara
A collaboration with the recording company Opera Rara involved an evening with conductor Sir Mark Elder and the American tenor Michael Spyres, with musicologist Professor Roger Parker. They talked about the exciting work of Opera Rara, reviving lost and forgotten operas, especially in the bel canto repertoire. Michael Spyres has an extraordinary range and phenomenal top notes. He had only just flown in from the USA on his way to perform in Paris, but nonetheless gave an impressive recital of arias by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Leoncavallo. They discussed the forensic process by which they reconstruct lost operas from extant fragments. The top singers and musicians they work with then learn this rediscovered music under the guidance of the Artistic Director Sir Mark Elder. It is then performed in concert and recordings are made and CDs produced. Recently I watched the World Premiere of Opera Rara‘s reconstruction of Donizetti’s L’Ange de Nisida at the Royal Opera House and then their new version of Puccini’s Le Villi at the Royal Festival Hall starring Ermonela Jaho. I am hoping we will be able to do a Divas & Scholars event soon with the fabulous Ermonela.


C) The Grange Festival
The aim of the collaboration with Grange Festival was to promote the newly launched country house opera company at Grange Park, Hampshire after the original incumbents left the premises. I organised three evenings at the Club at The Ivy on which we focused on the operas in their future programme. Singers, conductors and directors including the renowned former Artistic Director of the Royal Opera House, John Copley appeared to talk about and perform highlights from Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patriaCarmen and Albert Herring on separate evenings. The audience enjoyed our series and ticket sales for the new festival were considerably boosted. I introduced the famous West End theatre director Christopher Luscombe to counter-tenor Michael Chance, Artistic Director of Grange Festival and they will be working together on a production of Falstaff. We will hopefully do an insights and highlights event at the Club at The Ivy with Christopher and a singer from the production in advance of their summer season.








5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

My favourite work by Mozart is Don Giovanni, and by Haydn, The Creation.

Don Giovanni was one of the first operas I encountered as a young person through the atmospheric 1979 Joseph Losey film starring Ruggiero Raimondi and Kiri Te Kanawa filmed in Vicenza and Venice. I adore the music, the darkness, the comedy.

Thanks to my choral background, I loved singing The Creation. It’s true to say the more you work on a piece the more you grow to love and understand it.





Losey’s Don Giovanni (Official Trailer)


6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

Domenico Cimarosa (Aversa, Naples, 17 December 1749 – Venice, 11 January 1801). And this year is the 270th Anniversary of his birth: 1749-2019. This Neapolitan composer is not as celebrated today as his contemporary Mozart. However, in the 18th century he was one of the most popular and internationally famous composers, and for this reason maybe his work deserves more attention. He was prolific and composed 60 opera buffe and 20 opera serie many of which were in the repertoire of the great European opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, Copenhagen, Stockholm, St Petersburg and all the main Italian cities during his lifetime. His opera Il Matrimonio Segreto was premiered in Vienna in February 1792, two months after Mozart’s death to an ecstatic public. Mozart never enjoyed such success in Vienna. Apparently his work was respected by his peers and Haydn conducted performances of many of Cimarosa’s operas at Schloss Esterhazy. His first opera was Le stravaganze del conte which premiered in Naples with instant success and recognition for the composer. He lived and worked all over Europe, in Naples, Rome, St Petersburg at the invitation of Catherine II, Warsaw, Vienna and Venice. The composer’s favourite opera was his Artemisia, regina di Caria, and his comic opera La ballerina amante was the inaugural work at the Teatro Nacional in Lisbon. Other titles were L’italiana in Londra and I due baroniLe astuzie femminilliPenelope and Gli Orazi ed I Curiazi. Although lacking the true genius of Mozart his style certainly resembles Mozart’s and may have even borrowed from Mozart whose opera audiences he would have shared.




7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Remaining with the theme of Cimarosa, perhaps his best known opera Il Matrimonio Segreto isn’t produced much. Often compared unfavourably by modern critics with Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro it is nevertheless a work full of sparkling charm with an amusing story and well defined characters:

Paolino a clerk to Geronimo a snobbish Bolognese businessman has been secretly married for two months to his employer’s daughter Carolina. Hoping to placate his boss, Paolino has been trying to arrange a marriage between Carolina’s sister Elisetta and his acquaintance Count Robinson. Unfortunately the count arrives and is attracted instead to the already married Carolina. Geronimo’s wealthy widowed sister announces she would like to marry Paolino.

Musically there are moments reminiscent of Mozart’s Zauberflöte and Le nozze di Figaro, but this is unsurprising as composers of Italian opera of the period wrote in a similar style. Even if it lacks the inventiveness, the complexity and psychological depth of a Mozart opera it is full of vibrant and engaging melodies. The opening duet for Paolino and Carolina is lyrically beguiling and Geronimo’s Che saltino i dinari stopped the show at its premiere. The work was commissioned by the emperor Leopold II who had appointed him Kapellmeister to the court in Vienna. The humorous libretto by Giovanni Bertati was based on the English play of 1766 The Clandestine Marriage by George Colman and David Garrick who in turn may have loosely based the story on Hogarth’s series of engravings Marriage a la Mode. The opera was first performed at the Burgtheater and was said to have had the longest encore of any opera. Also the recent film The Cladestine Marriage is based on the same work by George Colman and David Garrick.





8. The whole story behind the music and the creation of Il matrimonio segreto (February 1792) is really very interesting. In the first months of 1792 (just a few months after the death of Mozart in December 1791: see, as you said, the quotations from Mozart’s works) Cimarosa had a sort of confrontation with Salieri himself (after the sudden death of Leopold II… and, as many said, poisoned) and had to leave his Vienna Imperial Court music position to Salieri immediately. In this way, Salieri became the master of Vienna music until Autumn 1823 (!), when he completed the music instruction of young Franz Liszt (celebrated as the newly reborn Mozart) and lost his mental health. Also Cimarosa was said to have been poisoned in Venice (1801; most probably not true!)… but this time by agents of the Bourbons of Naples and for well known political reasons… since he openly supported the revolutionary French Republic…

Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

When invited to write about literature which I think illuminates the era of Mozart I was hoping to be able to talk about some of my favourite eighteenth century books and plays. Those that first sprung to my mind were by Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe, Sheridan, Henry Fielding or maybe Samuel Richardson. However, on further consideration, none of these precisely fit the time when Mozart was active, being either a decade or two earlier or later, and also they are more commentaries on English society and mores and none of them discuss the music of the time in any detail.

Mozart himself was fortunately a prolific letter writer and he wrote to family and friends throughout his life. He reveals much about his composing and life as a musician. His youthful letters written when travelling abroad present to us a hard-working musician, a dutiful boy, sensitive and devoted to his mother and sister left behind in Salzburg as well as to his father who travelled with him and promoted his musical career. The early letters are touchingly full of energy, observations of places he travelled to and people he knew, complaints about sore hands from endless composing and tiredness from the uncomfortable travel he had to endure, particularly through Italy in the intense summer heat. The impression is that he was a sweet and thoughtful boy with an adorable sense of humour sending messages and prayers to his loved ones and friends as well as his family pets. A teenage Mozart wrote the following from Milan:

«Address your letters direct to us, for it is not the custom here, as in Germany, to carry the letters round; we are obliged to go ourselves to fetch them on post-days. There is nothing new here; we expect news from Salzburg. Not having a word more to say, I must conclude. Our kind regards to all our friends. We kiss mamma 1,000,000,000 times (I have no room for more noughts); and as for my sister, I would rather embrace her in persona than in imagination.» (Milan, 7 November 1772)

He compares the crowded streets of London and Naples, comments on a hanging he observed in Milan and gives us so much interesting detail on the life of musicians and behind the scenes glimpses at the opera houses. He writes enthusiastically of the successful performances of his works. As he did from Munich (14 January 1775) for La finta giardiniera:

«GOD be praised! My opera was given yesterday, the 13th, and proved so successful that I cannot possibly describe all the tumult. In the first place, the whole theatre was so crammed that many people were obliged to go away. After each aria there was invariably a tremendous uproar and clapping of hands, and cries of Viva Maestro! Her Serene Highness the Electress and the Dowager (who were opposite me) also called out Bravo! When the opera was over, during the interval when all is usually quiet till the ballet begins, the applause and shouts of Bravo! were renewed; sometimes there was a lull, but only to recommence afresh, and so forth. I afterwards went with papa to a room through which the Elector and the whole court were to pass. I kissed the hands of the Elector and the Electress and the other royalties, who were all very gracious.»



9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Two films which enhance one’s understanding of Mozart’s life and times are the documentary In Search of Mozart and Interlude in Prague. The former addresses the questions, who was Mozart, where did he come from and what made his music? And the charming film Interlude in Prague, a semi-fictionalised account of events in Mozart’s life during the creation of Don Giovanni, gives a wonderful flavour of the era. It stars actors James Purefoy, Aneurin Barnard and Samantha Barks.

After two years spent following in Mozart’s footsteps round Europe, the film maker Grabsky presented his answers in the feature-length documentary. Leading Mozart historians and performers – from René Jacobs to Renée Fleming – are interviewed. The two-hour film tells Mozart’s life story from beginning to end. It features live performance excerpts from his works, plus readings from his correspondence, and it dispels the popular myths such as those fostered in the Hollywood film Amadeus, that surround his life and death in an attempt to reveal his true identity. Grabsky claims, for example, that Mozart’s father Leopold, far from being money-driven, took his son on tour across Europe to ensure his prodigious talents were properly recognised. Wolfgang’s scatological humour was in keeping with typical speech of his time. And his communal grave was not necessarily that of a pauper, but in keeping with tradition. What sets Mozart apart from the rest is his more than 600 sublimely crafted works. For Grabsky, the transcendental quality of Mozart’s music makes him an intriguing and elusive subject, raising the question of whether events in his life are even relevant to our understanding of his brilliance.



10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

I was very fortunate to live in Vienna for three and a half years in the late 1990s. It is one of my favourite cities and the place where I really developed my interest in opera. Although Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, he spent much of his short life in Vienna and parts of the city still have something of the atmosphere and look of his day. It has been very well preserved. Even if the premiere of Don Giovanni was in Prague and other triumphs were in Italy, Germany and England, Vienna was his hometown for his last ten years, and around 20 Viennese locations are closely associated with his story. Many of these locations are places I loved to visit.

In 1762 when Mozart was six years old and a prodigy from Salzburg he was invited to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of Empress Maria Theresia to play for the imperial family. They were charmed and impressed and he jumped into the Empress’ lap. Schönbrunn is a magnificent Baroque building painted yellow with green woodwork, just as was my house in the wine village of Grinzing. Architecturally it is similar in style to Versailles with wonderful gardens adorned with statues, fountains and grottoes. I very much enjoyed walking up to the beautiful Gloriette where there is now a café and from which there is a lovely view of the palace.

Hofburg Palace
Mozart had audiences with the Empress Maria Theresia at the Hofburg Palace and later with Emperor Joseph II. Parts of the rambling Hofburg dates from the 13th century and one can imagine Mozart walking through it along cobbled streets on his way to the Burgtheater.

The Mozarthaus as it is now known was one of the houses he lived in on Domgasse 5. It was here that he wrote The Marriage of Figaro in 1786.

A place with an important association for the Mozart family was the Stephansdom where he married his beloved Constanze in 1782 and where his body was blessed after his death in 1791. St Stephen’s is a wonderful Gothic cathedral and an important landmark in Vienna. I remember it being rather dark and candle lit even in the 20th century.

Michaelerkirche Mozart Memorial Service Documents
His memorial service was held at the Michaelerkirche another important church and where most probably his Requiem was heard for the first time already in December 1791.


Café Frauenhuber
There are monuments to Mozart throughout Vienna including the Mozart memorial in the Burggarten and there is a Café Mozart behind the Staatsoper. However a café which Mozart knew was Café Frauenhuber and you can still visit it and eat Wiener schnitzel there.


I used to enjoy Mozartkugeln, the marzipan chocolates which bear his portrait.

State Opera House
A favourite place of mine in Vienna is the State Opera House which was built long after Mozart’s time in 1869 but it opened with a performance of Don Giovanni.





Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!




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