mozartcircle

Impossible Interviews December 2016: Mozart’s Friend A. Stadler

ag16aahd

Who is Anton Stadler?

Called by Mozart Nàtschibinìtschibi (nickname probably meaning poor miserable young man of follies), Anton Stadler was one of the best close friends of Mozart: among them also Gottfried von Jacquin (called HinkitiHonky) and his sister Franziska (Sigra. Dinimininimi).

Friendship in 1781
Anton Stadler and his brother Johann Nepomuk Franz, with the Bohemian players Anton David and Vincent Springer, were considered the best clarinet players in Vienna in 1780s and 1790s. Mozart befriended them in 1781/1782 and in the following years wrote an important series of works (more than 15) for clarinets, basset horns and basset clarinets.

Freemasonry and The Grotto secret society
27 September 1785 Anton Stadler became a freemason and this situation helped to create a special relationship and a closer friendship with Mozart. Sources are not always very clear on this subject, but it seems that Anton Stadler became a sort of vice- (possibly a Papageno working for Tamino?) of Mozart on various matters, especially on money, pawnshops and secret societies. In fact, Mozart and A. Stadler decided to create a new reformed Freemason Lodge or a completely new Secret Society, called The Grotto, and A. Stadler was writing down the rules of this new Secret Society. Constanze Mozart had still the manual of this new Society The Grotto at the end of 18th century. After her letters on this subject, the Mozart-Stadler’s manual of the new Secret Society disappeared and is today considered lost.

Pawnshops, loss of money and debts
The activity of A.Stadler with pawnshops, carried on also on behalf of Mozart, led to the loss of a considerable amount of money: important precious watches, money (at least ca. $1500 or more in modern values), almost all the silverware and other valuable goods which belonged to Mozart. Due to such facts, Constanze Mozart and the other relatives of Mozart always considered A.Stadler just a vulgar irresponsible jester and the story of the new Secret Society The Grotto probably was used by Constanze Mozart against A.Stadler, who didn’t want to be involved any more in stories of Secret Societies after the French Revolution. Moreover, A.Stadler in 1791 received from Mozart the sum of ca. $3000 (modern value) for his Tour of Concerts across Europe and, as far as we know, not only never paid that sum back to Mozart’s family, but never paid for the famous Concert K.622 and for the new instruments built for him by Theodor Lotz.

Inventor of new instruments?
A.Stadler attributed to himself the very invention of various instruments: the basset clarinet and probably a better extended design of the basset horn. We know that, technically speaking, instead, at least the basset clarinet was, in reality, designed and built by Theodor Lotz. So A.Stadler’s inventions are, at this moment, matter of controversy.

His activity as theorist
After the death of Mozart, A.Stadler kept playing clarinet, basset clarinet and basset horn at high levels, working for the Imperial Court and receiving new music by good composers like Kozeluch, Eybler and Süssmayr, all somehow linked to Mozart as friends or adversaries. Then A.Stadler distinguished himself most as theorist, thanks principally to his highly regarded Musick Plan (1800). Nonetheless, his incapability in dealing with money continuously led him into losses of money and debts and he poorly died in 1812.

__________________________________________________
WORKS BY ANTON STADLER
__________________________________________________

A) Theory works:
• Klarinett-Schule
• Musick Plan (1800; for Count Festetics on how to organize a School of Music)

B) Compositions by Stadler:

• Partitas for 6 wind instruments (1785)
• 18 Terzetten for 3 basset horns
• 3 caprices for clarinet (1808)
• 3 fantaisies ou potpourris for clarinet (1809)
• Variations sur différents themes favorites for clarinet (1810)
• 6 Duettinos progressives for 2 Clarinets (1808)
• 6 Duettinos concertantes for 2 Clarinets
• 12 ländlerische Tänze for 2 Clarinets (lost)
• 10 Variations über Müsst ma nix in übel aufnehma for Clarinet (lost)
• 2 Märsche for Wind Ensemble (lost)
• 12 deutsche Tänze mit Trios for Wind Ensemble (lost)
• 6 Duettinos for 2 Csákans or Csákan & Violon (1808)
• 7 Variations for Csákan (1812)
• 9 Variations über Müsst ma nix in übel aufnehma for Csákan (lost)
• 3 Caprices for Csákan or Double flute (lost)

Copyright © 2016 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

CD Spotlight December 2016: Symphonies Concertantes: Kozeluch & Mozart Contemporaries

re16aahd

Symphonies Concertantes

Music by Kozeluch, Pleyel, Danzi,
Hoffmeister, Winter, Abel, Ritter,
Crusell, Schneider.

Contemporaries of Mozart and a
few of them also friends of Mozart
and Haydn.

Consortium Classicum
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

cpo records

cdsptlgt

Impossible Interviews November 2016: Mozart’s Friend Abbé M. Stadler

ag16aahd

Who is Abbé Stadler?

Most of Mozart’s music admirers and estimators totally ignore who Abbé Stadler was. However, at the same time, they owe him a lot.
Close friend of Wolfgang Mozart and of his wife Constanze, direct witness of compositional sessions by Mozart, he played a fundamental role in the preparation, organization and publication of the many manuscripts and musical scores left by Mozart at his death (see, for example, the story of the mysterious completed opera by Mozart Semiramis, Zaide?, August 1799).
He was also the custodian of various first hand anecdotes on Mozart and his style of working, anecdotes, which are still fundamental, today, to determine and correctly comprehend the genesis of a few masterpieces written by Mozart and, among them, the Requiem itself.
Thanks to a cousin of Abbé Stadler, Barbara Ployer (their family relation has been recently confirmed by the accurate genealogical studies carried on by M. Lorenz), today we have an original music theory exercise book by Mozart himself (1784, now also in NMA X/30/2). Again thanks to the intense philological activity of Stadler, we have today also the exercise book Freystädtler-Studien (NMA X/30/2), which Stadler called Mozart’s teaching in composition 1784, which is a marvellous example of how long and accurately Mozart studied the works by Handel and Bach. Stadler also completed lists of all known music fragments from Mozart, lists which then proved fundamental for both Nissen and Köchel.
Moreover, his work on Mozart’s manuscripts was so appreciated by Constanze Mozart, that he received the permission to complete a few pieces by Mozart, which had been left unfinished by the composer himself.
Among the various works by Mozart completed by Abbé Stadler, there are the piano solo Fantasia K. 396, Allegro K. 400 and Minuetto K. 355 and the Kyries K. 322 and K. 323.
Close friend also of Beethoven, during the first years of the 19th century he carried on an important philological work, to determine which parts of the Requiem by Mozart were actually by Mozart himself and which ones were by others (see also Stadler, Vertheidigung der Echtheit des Mozart’schen Requiem). According to certain sources, he worked on the Requiem also with the help of Constanze and marked, in common pencil, the parts by Mozart with an M and those by Süssmayr with an S. Stadler was also considered by a few scholars as the author of a former completion of a few parts of the Requiem, then discarded by Süssmayr in the final version.  It is sure, instead, that: Stadler corrected the first original version in possession of Constanze Mozart («I said that my copy was more correct than the original…» […] «…mine is not only more correct than any other, on account of its containing the improvements of the Abbé’s masterly hand, but may be said to exceed in correctness the original itself.» Constanze Mozart, 26 November 1800); Stadler also added to the original version the figured bass accompaniment in red pencil and then in red ink, in order to preserve it; Stadler (and Constanze) affirmed that, in creating the completion, Süssmayr used also fragments of an already outlined version and other unfinished works by Mozart (but the latter is partially a conjecture by André, based upon his theory that actually 2 Requiems, one an older unfinished work written in 1789, existed and that Mozart, before his death, asked or thought to fill up the lacunae of the actual Requiem with sketches already written by him beforehand, ca. in 1789, for another unfinished Requiem and so did Süssmayr). Stadler in 1799 and 1800 actively helped Constanze to prepare the famous first printed edition of the Requiem and to solve the many Requiem difficult legal issues with the, until then, mysterious Count von Walsegg and his lawyer Sortschan of Vienna.
Stadler was also one of the composers selected for the monumental Diabelli Variations Project by 51 Composers (1819), for which he wrote Variation 41 on a Waltz by Diabelli.
We know also that Constanze Mozart wanted Stadler to complete the Rondo for piano & orch. «Concerto No. 26» (sic! in Constanze’s letter, due to the original numbering on the autograph manuscripts: which is in reality the frag. K. 386), because she knew Abbé Stadler could re-construct the original instructions by Mozart himself thanks to his family correspondence with the pianist Barbara Ployer. K. 386 then was completed by E. Smith and A. Brendel at the end of 1980s.

__________________________________________________
WORKS & ORIGINAL SOURCES ON ABBÉ STADLER
__________________________________________________

A) Mozart’s works completed by Abbé Stadler:
• Kyrie K. 322
• Kyrie K. 323
• Piano solo Minuetto K. 355/576b
• Piano solo Fantasia K. 396 (originally for piano & violin)
• Piano solo Allegro K. 400
• Piano & violin Rondo K. 372
• Piano Fugue K. 401
• Piano & violin Sonata K. 402
• Piano & violin Sonata K. 403
• Mov. Allegro for an Oboe concerto K. 416f
• Cantata Dir, Seele des Weltalls K. 429
• 3 movs. for Trio K. 442
• Piano Fugue K. 443
• No. 3 (a version revised by Stadler, Mozart original manuscript missing) of La Clemenza di Tito
• a first completion of some parts of Requiem, then discarded by Süssmayr (?)
• the Requiem figured bass accompaniment in red pencil and then in red ink
• arrangements of Mozart’s works

B) 19th century original sources on Stadler’s philological work on Mozart’s Requiem, on his friendship with Mozart and Constanze Mozart and on the theory of the 2 Requiems by André:
• The Harmonicon I (1828), p. 101 (.pdf = p. 114)
The Musical World IX (1838), p. 462 (.pdf = p. 291)

C) Works by Stadler on Mozart’s Requiem and the History of Music:
• Vertheidigung der Echtheit des Mozartischen Requiem (1826)
Nachtrag zur Vertheidigung (1827)
Zweyter und letzter Nachtrag… sammt Nachbericht über die Ausgaben dieses Requiems durch André in Offenbach, nebst Ehrenrettung Mozart’s und vier fremden Briefen (1827)
Materialen zur Geschichte der Musik unter den österreichischen Regenten (ms.)

D) Compositions by Stadler:

Tabelle, aus welcher man Menuetten und Trios nerauswurfeln kann (1781)

• Oratorio: Befreyung von Jerusalem (1816)

• Cantatas:
Seladon
Komposition auf den Tod der Gemahlin weiland Kaiser Joseph
Das Gewitter
Frühlingsfeyer

• 2 cori & 5 scenes for Polyxena

• Sacred Music:
• 2 Missae solemnes
• 8 Masses
• 2 Requiem
Te Deum
• 3 Magnificat
• 2 Miserere
• Gradual
• 4 Offertories
• 42 Psalms
• 10 Salve Regina
Ave Regina
Regina Coeli
• 3 Litanies
• 4 Corpus Domini Antiphonies
• 10 Responsories for the Holy Week
• other Sacred Music works

• For Orchestra:
• 12 Minuets
• 12 English Dances

• Chamber Music:
• Quartets
• Trios
• Sonatas for piano & horn
• Fugues for piano & organ

• For Piano & Keyboard:
• Sonatas
• Sonatinas
• Fugues
• Variations
• Var. 41 on a Waltz by Diabelli

• Vocal Music:
• Arias & choruses for a Singspiel
• Arias for a Pastoral comedy

• Hymns & Cori:
Glaube, Hoffnung und Liebe
Es ist ein Gott
Gott
Hoch du, mein Österreich
Klage auf den Tod der Kaiserin Maria Theresia

• 42 Lieder

• Arrangements of works by Haydn, Gluck, Mozart, Cherubini, Dalayrac, Beethoven and others

Copyright © 2016 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

CD Spotlight November 2016: 230th Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (1786-2016)

re16aahd

230th Le Nozze di Figaro
(1786-2016)

Pisaroni Karg Yoncheva Hampson
Brower Von Otter Muraro Villazón

Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Yannick Nézet-Séguin

(Release July 2016)

www.deutschegrammophon.com

cdsptlgt

Interview October 2016: 10 Questions with K. Woods

ag16aahd

Kenneth Woods: Official Links
Kenneth Woods Official Site: Kenneth Woods
Kenneth Woods & ESO Official Site: English Symphony Orchestra (ESO)
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods at ESO
Kenneth Woods: Colorado MahlerFest
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods Twitter (Official)
Kenneth Woods: ESO Twitter (Official)
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods Facebook (Official)
Kenneth Woods: ESO Facebook (Official)

Kenneth Woods: CD Elgar Piano Quintet – Sea Pictures Top 10 Best Seller
Kenneth Woods: CD Hans Gal & Mozart Piano Concertos

Kenneth Woods: Next Concert: Haydn & Mozart (11 December 2016)
Kenneth Woods: Next Concert: Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven (21 December 2016)


1. Your recent CD Elgar: Orchestrated By Donald Fraser, Piano Quintet, Sea Pictures reached the Amazon Best Seller Top 10 last June! In his youth, in 1870s, Elgar himself arranged many works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven for quintet and wrote his Harmony Music and Shed Pieces, which had a strong, yet personal, Mozartian writing, do you think that the influence of those composers on his music still emerges from his later works? And if yes, how?

Elgar is an interesting figure, because his own compositional voice is so strong and so consistent across his entire maturity. Composers like Shostakovich or Beethoven, or even Mozart, went through huge changes of style in their careers, while the differences between early Elgar and late Elgar are pretty small. The only composer I can think of who has such a consistent and recognizable voice is Brahms. Elgar’s voice was so strong, that even his orchestrations of other composers sound like Elgar.

This means it’s quite hard to spot the influence of other composers in Elgar’s music. His knowledge of Brahms, Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann, Mozart, Haydn and Bach (I’d say those are the composers who shaped his language and technique the most) is so deeply assimilated and integrated into his own musical world that one almost never thinks «Oh, that sounds a bit like…».

What Elgar ultimately learned from the Austro-German masters is a multi-layered approach to motivic development. There are thematic connections in his music that are very obvious, and there are those that are almost undetectable. In a piece like the Piano Quintet, there are obvious moments of cyclical structure, where whole themes return at the end of the piece which we know from the beginning and which are easy for anyone to spot, and then are tiny, microscopic relationships of intervals and ideas that are very important to the musical logic, which one can only really dig out with lots of analysis while looking at the score.

Haydn and Schumann were the greatest masters of this kind of layering, but Mozart excelled at it too.

ag16baic

ag16baicb

2. You are a well known promoter of Haydn’s music, also through your own blog A View from the Podium, what are your considerations on your activity on Haydn and on the importance of building a wider knowledge of his music, still, unfortunately, a bit neglected? In September you have conducted the beautiful Symphony no. 80 by Haydn, what have been your thoughts, while preparing your performance? Written in 1784, 2 years before Mozart’s Prague K504 and 1 after Linz, do you think this Symphony by Haydn somehow influenced Mozart’s late symphonic writing?

I think there are two main reasons why Haydn’s music is still mostly misunderstood or underappreciated by the general public. First, I think he’s been very badly served by performers and writers who have tried to tame him as both a human being and a musician. The banal image of the benevolent Papa Haydn is only a tiny portion of a complex and fascinating personality – he was a man of tremendous temperament, great tenacity, capable of great anger and passion, and someone who took great personal and professional risks throughout his career. He must have been a genius at dealing with people – think of what it took to keep that incredible orchestra together at Esterháza with all those great artists and strong personalities. The musical manifestation of this problem is that we keep Haydn’s music behind glass. Too many Haydn performances are too bland – everything is made polite and genteel. I think his music is overflowing with madness and genius. It’s not just gently witty.

Of course, Haydn, even well performed and well curated, asks a lot of listeners. It’s very sophisticated and endlessly modern music.

But I’ve found that if you strip away all the accrued politeness and gentility that has become attached to his music and play it with real commitment and total abandon, audiences hear it and are just stunned.

As far as Haydn’s influence on Mozart, it’s not an easy thing to describe in a few words. They were writing during an era in which the language of music was as standardized and codified as pretty much any time I can think of – the only parallels I can think of are movements in popular music, where certain formulae completely dominate the discourse for a while, like doo-wop, rockabilly or ragtime. Mozart and Haydn were fairly unique in taking a system of stock musical gestures and using them to create incredibly expressive and completely radical music. Both of them understood the power of expectation – how to create it and how to undermine it. Haydn provided the structural framework for Mozart by creating or perfecting the forms in which Mozart would excel: sonata form, the string quartet and the symphony.

But by the time you get to Mozart’s earliest mature symphonies like 25 or 29, you can see he’s a totally different character than Haydn. There’s a melodic brilliance and emotional directness one almost never finds in Haydn, but it lacks Haydn’s wildness and technical genius.

What’s touching is that they clearly understood and loved each other’s music without any hint of jealousy or condescension.

__________________________________________________
HAYDN & A VIEW FROM THE PODIUM (by Kenneth Woods)
__________________________________________________

Haydn’s Music- Bathed in Fire and Blood
Haydn in The Oregonian
Haydn the Yurodivy
Reading Haydn from Beginning to End
Haydn- more talented than Mozart
Haydn- smarter than Brahms
Controversy over Haydn and magic with Schumann
RCCO- Schubert and Haydn
Haydn the Subversive
Podcast- The “true” story of Haydn 59
Listen Again- Haydn Trumpet Concerto
Haydn- More fun than Mahler!
More Haydn
Haydn’s on- let’s cancel the concert and rehearse
Haydn

ag16caica

ag16caic

3. You have published also a really beautiful series of CDs with music by the Austrian-British composer Hans Gál. Among them, Gál’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and, in the same album, Mozart’s Piano Concerto K482: what led you to create this special combination? You have in your repertoire also a few rare works from 18th/19th century like the Harmoniemusik after Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Figaro by Triebensee and Wendt: do you think this special charming type of works, which had also a specific social value when written, should receive more attention in Concert Seasons, in order to enrich them?

Gál is a special case.

Throughout the decade or so I’ve been working on his music with the Gál Society, one thing I got from them was their deep conviction that his music shouldn’t be assessed too much in terms of his biography.

There has been a lot of long-overdue interest in composers like Gál, whose lives were disrupted (or worse) by the Nazis. It’s important that we let their music be assessed on merit, and not presented with too much special pleading because of their personal tragedies.

With that in mind, we’ve always coupled his works (with a few exceptions, like our disc of string trios by Gál and Krása) alongside works from the Austro-German tradition that he saw himself belonging to. Generationally, he was closer (by far) to Mozart and Schubert than I am to Shostakovich or Mahler.

Hopefully placing his music next to Mozart’s helps us to better understand both composers.

As for the Harmoniemusiks– I think they’re wonderful!

I’m a great fan of arrangements in general. Mozart was, too!

Audiences love these arrangements, and it’s wonderful that one can showcase one’s woodwind section using some of the greatest music ever written.

Orchestras don’t feature their wind sections enough!

ag16daic

4. When you work with the orchestra, preparing a new series of concerts, what are your pieces of advice and tips to the musicians on approaching Mozart and on approaching Haydn?

On a technical level, I don’t think musicians think as deeply about meter and metric structure as they perhaps should in Baroque and Classical repertoire!

Understanding all the nuances of different kinds of impulses and strong and weak beats and bars is absolutely essential for giving this repertoire the right sense of variety and elegance. When you work with a good orchestra over time, you try to develop a shared understanding about how meter works in Mozart and Haydn (and Bach and Handel).

On a more spiritual level, Classical repertoire seems to bring out musicians’ worst tendencies to imitate other people’s performances and mannerisms. The HIP movement has made the problem even more common… it’s become shorthand for a set of performance habits which are mostly the result of a very contemporary aesthetic.

If I’m feeling naughty, I occasionally point out that the aesthetics of Ikea furniture and many period instrument recordings are basically the same. It’s all about clean lines, bright textures, standardized approaches. I would hope the study of performance practice would lead us to be more questioning and more radical, not to simply recycle the interpretations of a conspicuously brilliant generation of other conductors, whose aesthetics were obviously shaped by the British Cathedral choral tradition as much as anything else.

Why do so many performers ignore or downplay Haydn’s use of fortissimo… a dynamic he uses very sparingly? Why do so many performers end every phrase in Mozart with a diminuendo, even when it precedes a subito piano? Surely these kinds of habits are very destructive to the music… it robs it of drama, intensity, contrast and expression.

I felt like I started to blossom as a Haydn interpreter when I freed myself of any worry about whether other people would approve of what I was up to, or whether anyone else had done it before the way I thought it should go.

You’ve got to be honest with yourself about what you find in the score and try to be true to what you learn from it. Once an orchestra feels free to try different things, to make different, more dangerous sounds, everyone’s creativity and energy starts to flow.

Mozart and Haydn come to life when the performers are letting themselves really give their all to the music, instead of trying to imitate the sound of historic instruments, or conform to some emasculated idea of this music being terribly prim and proper.

ag16daicb

ag16daiccb

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

Mozart… It has to be the Requiem, which is a work I’ve been immersed in most of my life!

Haydn… It’s harder to pick one piece with him than perhaps any other composer, as there are so many works of such staggering originality and beauty, and whatever Haydn symphony I’ve just played always seems the most miraculous. If I had to pick one work, maybe the Oxford Symphony (no. 92): it’s a work particularly close to my heart and a piece I learned a great deal from studying.

ag16faic

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

Franz Danzi!

I was always fond of his Cello Concerto and it, and his other music, seem due for a re-appraisal.

ag16gaic

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

Any Haydn symphony before no. 92 that doesn’t have a nickname!

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

Maynard Solomon’s biography of Mozart is both an impressive piece of scholarship and a touchingly human piece of writing.

I find it very moving.

ag16iaic

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

Malcolm Bilson’s documentary Knowing the Score is a great, compact introduction to the world of performance practice.

af16laic

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

Vienna!
__________________________________________________
HAYDN, MOZART & BEETHOVEN IN VIENNA
__________________________________________________

  • Haydnhaus
Haydn’s final Vienna home, here Creation & Seasons were written.
Mozarthaus
Mozart’s only surviving Vienna home (1784-1787). Here the Piano Concertos K.466, K.467, K.482, K.488, K.491, the Haydn Quartets, Davidde Penitente & Nozze di Figaro were written.
Beethoven’s Eroicahaus
Here Eroica was written.
Beethoven’s Pasqualatihaus
Here 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th & Fidelio were written.
Beethoven’s Wohnung Heiligenstadt
Here 1802 works (ie. Tempest, The Hunt, Eroica Variations, Kreutzer) were written.

ag16kaic

ag16kaicb

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

Thank you!

ag16kaicc

Copyright © 2016 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

 

CD Spotlight October 2016: After Napoleon Cherubini & Louis XVIII (1819)

re16aahd

Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

Beethoven adored Cherubini and considered him one of his
Models in Music. After Napoleon Cherubini became the official co-Director of Bourbons’ King’s Chapel (1815). In 1819 he wrote a Coronation Mass, a great masterpiece, that, due to the
political turmoils, was never
performed. Only in 1867 the score resurfaced and in 20th century a complete new edition was available. Agnus Dei is an unforgetable masterpiece.

EMI Records

cdsptlgt

Interview September 2016: 10 Questions with K. Stratton

ag16aahd

Kerry Stratton: Official Links
Kerry Stratton & TCO Official Site: Toronto Concert Orchestra
Kerry Stratton: Wish Opera (Official Site)
Kerry Stratton (Radio Host): Classical Radio 96.3 Live
Kerry Stratton (Radio Host): Classical Radio 96.3 Host
Kerry Stratton: Kerry Stratton Twitter (Official)
Kerry Stratton: Kerry Stratton & TCO Facebook (Official)
Kerry Stratton: CD Liszt World Premiere De Profundis & Music After Schubert, Beethoven
Kerry Stratton: CD Mozart Clarinet Concerto & Weber Clarinet Concertino


1. For your recent series of concerts with the Toronto Concert Orchestra, you presented Haydn classics par excellence, featuring Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet and the Symphony No. 88! What are the true elements of beauty and fascination in the music by Joseph Haydn, in your opinion?

Both Haydn and Dvorak have suffered scorn over the years simply for having the audacity to practice the art of music from a position of charming, robust mental health.

This to some, is an unforgivable failing but is the very thing that appeals to me in both composers.

Certainly, their respective publics needed no explanations of these composers’ appeal.

The beauty and fascination in Haydn is that he produced so much music of good quality and had so much to offer, yet stayed within the forms of his day while nevertheless contributing to them.

The fascination for me is the extent to which Haydn was a complete child of nature, who seemed to have written down whatever came into his head. Even in his sixties, he was writing to his publisher to request a book on counterpoint, feeling «It is time I studied».

The beauty and fascination… perfection of form and the flow of melody.

ag16baic

ag16baicb

2. Genius & No Rules has been largely exaggerated! In reality both Haydn and Mozart, as you said, spent most of their lives studying and experimenting musical theories and even new ones. Also the famous dirty jokes of Mozart were not, in reality, in most cases, his own stuff, but he was just quoting then widely well known lines from Hanswurst’s popular theatre comedies, a sort of Austrian Mel Brooks of 18th century. The same consideration for Beethoven, who, moreover, had even always boasted his personal condition of intellectual superiority! And Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is still an important piece in your life as a conductor. What are your most profound considerations on this absolute masterpiece by Beethoven?

It was my good fortune to grow up on a farm, here in Ontario, that had been established in the 1850’s.

The buildings are gone now but they would have been the sort of edifice which nowadays would be preserved as a heritage site.

In any case, I was oblivious to that aspect and far more concerned with trying to amuse myself, cut off as one is in the country.

There is not a movement in Beethoven’s Symphony that fails to conjure images of my childhood: the arrival, by the brook (we had a great huge pond on the farm and a stream)… The merry making: (my mother came from a family of eleven children) and when all the families got together it helped Beethoven’s version of the peasants festival, make complete sense to me.

There are few things with the amniotic security of being in a century old stone farmhouse during a summer storm.

The Hymn of Thanksgiving means more to me at this stage in life as I look back on a childhood filtered through the gauze of memory. Beethoven knew what the country was all about and I recognized our commonality.

These considerations are not profound but I offer them to you from the point of view that no conductor without the experience of these things will ever give a convincing pastoral performance.

ag16caica

ag16caic

3. It is well known how Liszt, as child prodigy, was publicly presented by 19th century papers as the actual physical reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and how, last son of the Esterházy group, he cultivated an unconditioned devotion to Beethoven. In your famous Liszt CD with the World Premiere Recording of Liszt’s De Profundis, you conducted also two other masterpieces by him, the Wanderer Fantasia after Schubert and the Fantasy on Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens after Beethoven, which belonged to Liszt’s programme of public promotion of the music of the so called First Viennese School. Musically speaking, how do you think the spirit of the First Viennese School from Haydn to Beethoven-Schubert really emerges from the very music written by F. Liszt for piano and orchestra?

The inclusion of the Ruins of Athens and the Wanderer Fantasia were at my behest, the Schubert in particular because they represented an era and style that no longer appears in concert programmes.

What I have always sought in a piano soloist is not merely someone who knows how to play the score but who has researched how it was played.

The late Thomas Manshardt, last pupil of Cortot, was a dear friend and a convincing link to the great 19th century pianistic traditions.

Seldom did I encounter an artist who in Liszt, could use what he called the force of the anacrusis. Tom’s phrasing I cannot adequately describe but can only attest to power and the hold-your-breath kind of music making that he showed me.

Too often I feel that we are teaching students with what amounts to a powerful accent on the first beat of every bar which is a difficult habit to break or at least control.

This may be fine in some cases but Liszt appropriates Beethoven and Schubert for his own purposes and his own style, which was anything but rigid.

ag16daic

4. Beside your intense activity as a conductor, you have been carrying on various important projects both as Classical Radios Host with shows like Conductor’s Choice and The Oasis and as an avid promoter of the activity of young performers and conductors, especially during summer festivals. What have been the great challenges and the great accomplishments, you experienced with these special activities? We know also you are a renowned gourmet and now we are publishing many original 18th century recipes in the section of our Site The Mozartian Gourmet! What do you think of it?

I have enjoyed my work as a radio presenter in that the most important thing to convey to the listener is my love of the music. It may set the cat amongst the pigeons, but I am not out to educate.

Monet had a wonderful quote about his work: «Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love».

We hear too often that people want to appreciate or respect music when it wasn’t written to be appreciated and respected. Those are merely by-products.

It is my view that Mozart to name but one, attests in his correspondence that he wanted people to love his music.

To come to this art form the listener needs but two things and they are time and desire. The rest will follow.

The challenges of the festival fall into the same category as all arts organizations can easily identify and that is securing funding, programming, promotion and consolidating for the future.

What it reduces to is that established arts groups are in one particular business above all others and that is the business of relationships. There are relationships amongst musicians, the conductor, the board, the sponsor and above all, the public. These partnerships are crucial to survival.

As for The Mozartian Gourmet, I would take the greatest interest in any recipe involving game! Now that’s my idea of a splendid meal of a winter’s evening.

ag16daicb

ag16daicc

5. Your Classical Music Radio Shows regularly broadcast Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Danzi, Viotti, Kuhlau and many other masters of 18th century and 19th century… is there a better form of education to beauty and good taste? And what about your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn?

Must we have favourites?

Paradise would be rehearsing and performing Mozart operas and Haydn symphonies for all eternity.

If, however, you need an answer, I am afraid I shall disappoint, as it is tantamount to asking which of my children is my favourite!

ag16faic

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

The Arriaga Symphony makes wish he had written thirty more but in a life so brief, we have what we have.

There have been some first rate recordings of F. X. Richter symphonies as well as Boccherini and Vorisek, which are a delight to me!

In general, I think the Bohemian symphonists are neglected.

ag16gaic

ag16gaicb

ag16haic

7. You have already answered previously on the neglected pieces of music of the 18th century! So I’m asking you what is your vision on our approaching this so rich repertoire from 18th century?

To me it is more important to continue on the voyage of exploration and discovery than to focus on just one work!

8. Do you have in mind a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

To comprehend Mozart, but slightly, read his letters!

To comprehend the music, I think it is far more important to do score analysis.

This will teach much about the music and there is no substitute for this kind of work!

There are books aplenty and I have enjoyed many with the caution that when we encounter any writer who declares «I have the truth!» we must go in the opposite direction.

ag16iaic

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

I don’t believe such a film has been made but, as an enthusiastic amateur historian, I am always intrigued by military history of the time.

The movement of troops, ordinance and cavalry about a battlefield had the form, traditions and structure of any courtly dance.

Barry Lyndon is not a musical film but I am astounded by Thackeray’s portrayal of 18th century society in the original novel.

The film does well.

To know a people and aspects of their time, is no disadvantage in knowing their music.

ag16jaic

10. Certainly both Kurosawa and Kubrick knew how to treat Classical Music in their movies! It is a fact that many people got acquainted with even rare masterpieces by Haydn, Schubert, Vivaldi and Ligeti through their movies. And the Soundtrack from Barry Lyndon did the same for Paisiello, one of the great musical models of Mozart and who spent also many evenings playing quartets with Mozart himself, and Handel!  Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

In a word, Vienna!

ag16kaic

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

Thank you!

ag16kaicb

Copyright © 2016 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.