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Rebekka Maeder: Official Sites
Rebekka Maeder Official Site: Rebekka Maeder
Rebekka Maeder: Rebekka Maeder (LinkedIn)
Rebekka Maeder: Rebekka Maeder (Facebook)
Rebekka Maeder: Novocanto Ensemble
Rebekka Maeder: Novocanto Ensemble (Facebook)
Rebekka Maeder Coloratura Soprano:
10-11-18 June 2017: Haydn – St.Cecilia Mass
8 July 2017: Mozart – Così Fan Tutte
16-17 September 2017: Mozart program concert
4-5 November 2017: Schubert Mass in E Flat (Bern)
1. International Soprano with a vast and varied repertoire (from Bach, Handel up to Mendelsshon, Offenbach, Ravel and Leonard Bernstein), through the years you have been building a really impressive Mozartian repertoire: 5 Mozart’s operas, 8 masses, Davidde penitente and many other Sacred Music Works by him. What attracted and what attracts you the most in Mozart’s music? What Mozartian opera character do you like the most of those you have interpreted? And why? What Sacred music Vocal part do you like the most of the many Mozartian Sacred Works you have interpreted? And why?
The compositions of Mozart are simply the product of an unrivalled genius.
He knew exactly how to deal with the human voice… how he had to write for each character in order to make it possible for the singer to show all the colours and all that necessary diversification that not only effectively builds the character but also makes the character well defined and interesting. Moreover, the orchestration is written by Mozart in a very clever way, so that it never arrives to an excess of demand from the singer. Personally, I do really love the elegance of Mozart’s melodies and how he musically builds up the characters in his Operas.
The characters in Mozart’s operas, which I have interpreted so far, with the exception of the Queen of the Night, show some similarities: young, adult ladies of nobility, confronted with the themes of love, loyalty and betrayal.
Mozart’s operas are mostly about the emotional entanglements with which the aristocratic population has to deal with in everyday’s life: love and fidelity, desire and adventure, power and resignation.
Therefore, a decision about my favourite Mozartian character is not easy at all… you see, it much depends on the profundity of a character and on the actual musical part, as well.
Of course, the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute) has such a special value and such an intrinsic charm of its own: the great concentration of emotions, the high drama and also the vocal technical challenge… And all this must happen on stage and in music in a very short time… she has 3 shows in the whole opera: 2 arias of approx. 4min each and an ensemble at the end. Within these short periods, all these characterizing factors must perfectly emerge from your interpretation. This challenge is always a motive of great enchantment and it is always such a great joy to accomplish your performance of this character.
On the other hand, the Queen of the Night, as a drama character, has not an actual evolution nor a distinct development within the opera. If we consider this point of view, I must say I do prefer the character of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Such character really leaves enough room for the development of the various different facets, not only on a theatrical level but also, and principally, on a pure musical level.
In the field of sacred music, I love the Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor in a special manner.
The enchanting Soprano solo Et incarnatus est represents a great and, at the same time, a marvellous challenge to the singer, when you are demanded to completely merge intimacy and virtuosity through your own performance.
Moreover, in general, the Mass itself is a very delightful masterpiece for the soprano. There are even two of them, who are also ingeniously combined firstly in a duetto, and then with the tenor in a terzetto.
This mass is so marvellously permeated with an outstanding dimension of love and spirituality (and all this with a stylistic variety that is, at the same time, so harmoniously forged into an art product of such a pure and elevated unity), that it deeply touches the audience as well as the interpreter.
Rebekka Maeder sings Mozart, Mass in C Minor K427, Et incarnatus est.
Rebekka Maeder sings Mozart, The Magic Flute, Der Hölle Rache.
2. In your Repertoire you have also many works by Joseph Haydn: The Creation, The Seasons and 5 Masses. What kind of interest led you to his music? What are your considerations on Haydn’s vocal parts in his masses and in his oratorios?
Haydn’s music is a great playing field for me as a singer!
I love his strong, sometimes even impetuous temperament, the freshness and playfulness of his compositions.
Sometimes arias are written in a way, that really recalls the Lied or Song technique, and can have a very catchy, almost folkish tone, but then… they can be highly virtuosic again.
His musical talent can achieve also such striking high levels of pictorial dimension.
An extraordinary example of this is his work The Creation in which his compositional mastery really stands out in all its glorious might… just not to mention that magnificent musical conception of chaos at the very beginning of his work.
Haydn really manages to break the rigid forms of baroque oratorios… and in such a pioneering way!
In The Creation he also shows his great talent in tone painting!
Each voice of nature finds its clear imitation in the sounds of the orchestra and also in the vocal parts: from the rays of the sun to the foaming waves of the sea, to the lions and the doves, etc.
All this is so so extremely interesting, if we consider the form of art itself!
3. In your repertoire, apart from Handel’s works and Beethoven’s works, you have many important composers of the second half of the 18th century/beginning 19th century. Among them we remember Mozart’s friend and mentor Josef Myslivecek, Mozart’s and Haydn’s great pupil Hummel with his masses, the brother of Haydn and Mozart’s friend M. Haydn and also Gossec. What can you tell us about your interest in these composers and in their music? What led you to add them to your repertoire and which one of them do you consider the most interesting composer?
My musical interest is concentrated mainly on the epochs of classical music and romanticism.
As a freelance musician I have free choice on the works I sing, of course. I can decide whether the work or the composer irritates me or not.
Nevertheless, usually the theatres and conductors are those who make their first choice, as far as the composer and the work are concerned… and this gives me the lucky opportunity to know and sing music works, which I just did not know.
Moreover, it is fundamental to me also to decide whether the piece fits my voice or not.
In general, however, I think it is important to have as much diversification as possible in my choices and not to limit myself to interpreting only the great and well-known composers and works.
This alone arouses my interest, especially when we are considering composers of these epochs and when such composers, like Myslivecek, are also well associated with Mozart. This connection, not only in terms of teachers and pupils, but also friendships and competitions, often has a great influence on the composer’s musical work.
For me, it is in this very moment that music shows one of its most beautiful aspects: it unites people and people learn and grow together: the creators, the performers and the audience.
To explore what influences can be found in the music of Myslivecek, Hummel, Michael Haydn and Gossec has been and is of great interest to me.
And it is always exciting to discover how differently the composers have treated the human voice in their works.
Since these composers are very different one from the other, frankly I cannot say which one of them I consider the most interesting. You see, an important attitude for me is not to evaluate everything in life in a too sharp manner. It’s not just about what is now more meaningful and important, more intelligent, more virtuous, or more perfect. People are not perfect, in any respect. So I just try to grasp what I find in music, in terms of what is offered to be grasped, and I try to give it that meaning, the music itself wants and tries to express: sometimes this is really very much and of a complex nature, sometimes it is just simple and even, so to speak, casual.
In any case, I must say that, in particular, the works Abramo and Isacco by Myslivecek and also Gossec’s Grande messe des morts have been particularly touching to me.
4. This year 2017 you are presenting Haydn’s St.Cecilia Mass (June), Mozart’s Così fan tutte (May-July), a full Mozartian program (September) and a Schubert Mass in November plus masses by Mozart (April) and Scarlatti (March) and Schumann and Mendelssohn. You also collaborate with various projects and ensembles and you are also a regular guest at various Music Festivals. So what can you tell us about your current and future projects? And what your suggestions to young singers who want to build a repertoire on MozartEra music?
I like the diversity and the constant new discoveries in the field of music.
I do not have to move across all the epochs, but I choose, where my voice and my heart lead me mostly.
I enjoy being able to make opera and operetta and sacred music with choir and orchestra, as well as chamber music.
Of course, concerts such as Haydn’s Cäcilienmesse, the Mendelssohn concerts in May and the Schubert Mass in November are impressive sonorous experiences, as they can fill a concert hall or a large church with a large orchestra and choir.
To make music with so many people is also a great accomplishment and it is also always so exciting to work with the different levels of the choirs… I mean, to work with professional musicians is an utterly different experience from working with non-professional choirs and often, when church music is involved, both experiences just incredibly meet each other.
Moreover the audience itself can be also so heterogeneous and of such a different nature. And this is a real challenge for the musician: to reach people, whether they are familiar with classical music or not.
And such considerations led me to work in projects like the Cosi fan tutte I’m presenting again in July: a chamber music version of the beautiful opera, tailored for the operatic lover as well as for the eyes and ears that are not familiar with the opera yet. The recitatives were replaced by the narrator Uwe Schönbeck, an outstanding and well-known actor in Switzerland and formerly a great and experienced singer who leads the audience through the opera and thus connects the musical numbers. This makes the opera much slimmer and more intelligible and it can also be easily financed and this in favour of smaller stages (a major subject in modern times not to be underestimated) and finally free the untrained listener from the fear of a visit at the opera house.
This variety of different works and performance platforms also offers great space for young singers to get acquainted with the repertoire of this time.
The vocal and artistic development of each young singer has its own pace and should be well reconciled with its possibilities. It must not be conducive to singing the most difficult and most complex works and roles too early and also the performance pressure should be handled with care.
So many young talents disappear, just because of a too much, so to say, because of too big stages and of a too heavy repertoire, which was forced.
Having a good mentor (or even several ones) who always has an eye and an ear on the singer is more than advisable. He can give good advice in the choice of roles and, above all, the necessary technical level. Internal and external growth should go hand in hand.
In contrast to later composers of the romantic period such as Strauss, Dvorak, Mahler, Verdi, Wagner, etc., the composers of the classical period seduce far less to an uncultivated and impetuous handling of the voices. The forms are more regular, the voice is somewhat less endangered.
Among the numerous works of classical music, however, there are also immense differences in the demands on the human voice. For example, it is advisable to choose, as a young soprano, the lighter voice parts (with Zerlina instead of Donna Elvira or with Blonde instead of Constanze), even if the voice shows already the potential for great drama.
Admittedly, sometimes the outside world does not seem to give a choice, but ultimately everyone decides more and more on his own voice.
If you are over-estimated it is actually easier to react, you can always cancel a job offer.
If a singer assumes too much too early, his ego is too great, or he has not dealt well enough with the part to be sung and has underestimated it (here an experienced consultant would be important).
If the singer does not take the step to accept or to apply for a role, although he is able to do so vocally, the ego, i.e. the inner growth, was not ready yet.
If one is underestimated, i.e. not being heard, this can have a reason which can be found in the very singer… the interior does not want to show itself, although it could. It is always a fundamental matter of balance.
5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
Don Giovanni and The Creation.
6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?
I think Louis Spohr (1784-1859) is a very interesting composer.
Next year, one of his works The Saviour’s Last Hours will be performed.
Spohr is anything but unknown, his works range from opera, operetta, oratorios, drama music, songs, symphonies, chamber music to numerous violin concertos, however, despite the quantity and the quality of his works, he is rarely found in the concert or in opera agenda.
7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency, especially thanks to your special experience as a MozartEra musician, performer and connoisseur.
For instance, Gossec’s Grande messe des morts or Hummel’s Mass in D Minor.
8. Do you have in mind a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
For me, reading books is not the first choice when it comes to understanding the music.
I rather try to see how a composer has written the music; how he wrote my vocal parts and how he orchestrated them.
When I read books, I rather choose biographies or, even better, letters from the composers or from his contemporaries, as is in the case of Mozart.
Mozart’s letters are really wonderful to get an authentic impression of his world… They say a lot about the spirit of his time and about his own character.
9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
BBC has produced a good number of interesting documentaries on Mozart; e.g. the chapter A Passion for the Stage from The Genius of Mozart (BBC Documentary).
And Amadeus is also a nice movie to get an impression of that time.
10. Name a place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music.
Vienna is such a great place!
You cannot get around this city (fortunately), if you have to deal with the music of this century.
I have been there several times for masterclasses and sightseeing!
Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
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|Clarinet & Piano Works
Complete Works for Clarinet & Piano.
Sonata No.1, No.2, No. 3
6 English Dances
& Sonatina No. 10 (1801-1810).Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
& Mozart used his Symphonies,
Concertos & Chamber Music
as Style reference.
|6 Quartette Concertante
Chamber Music by Vanhal.
6 Quartette for Oboe & String
Trio Op. 7 (1771).Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
& Mozart used his Symphonies,
Concertos & Chamber Music
as Style reference.Sarah Francis
Tagore String Trio
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José Antonio Montaño: Official Sites
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José Antonio Montaño Official Site: La Madrileña Orchestra
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José Antonio Montaño conducting Martín y Soler, Haydn & Mozart:
1. Thanks to your intense activity as conductor, artistic director, music scholar and critical editor, you managed to develop an important series of music projects on a very special Viennese triad: Mozart, Haydn and Martín y Soler. So you really re-create, this way, that special authentic Vienna musical atmosphere of the 1780s, when Haydn was already a papa and both Mozart and Martín y Soler (backed by those great librettos by Da Ponte) became the Theatre Opera Best Sellers from Vienna to Prague with their Nozze di Figaro, Una cosa rara, Don Giovanni and L’arbore di Diana, and Martín y Soler was so successful to become the favourite composer of the Imperial Court. What fascinated and fascinates you most about the music of Martín y Soler? And, in your opinion, what characteristics of his music and of his operas impressed and attracted the 18th century audience so much that Martín y Soler’s operas managed to receive such an extraordinary amount of theatre performances for that period (almost 100 performances only for Una cosa rara and the usual theatre income for 24 successful performances was ca. 20,000 florins, i.e. ca. 140,000 modern US dollars: Mozart’s annual Imperial salary was 800 florins, i.e. ca. 4,800 modern US dollars)?
Since my early years as a musical director, I have had the impulse to research and perform forgotten works by not-so-popular musicians such as La Contadina by Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), the zarzuela Las labradoras de Murcia by Antonio Rodríguez de Hita (1724-1787) and the oratorio Il sacrifizio di Abramo by Camilla de Rossi (16??-1710). In this context and while I was studyig in-depth Spanish authors of the 17th and 18th centuries, Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806) appeared. It also coincided that back in 2006, when the Teatro Real de Madrid (Royal Theatre of Madrid), where I was working as conductor of its young orchestra Orquesta Escuela de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, decided to produce the opera Il Tutore Burlato (1775) on the occasion of the 200th death anniversary of Martín y Soler and therefore I had the chance to work in-depth on his music. It was in that very moment that I began studying his work and life more thoroughly.
Martín y Soler, Il Tutore Burlato, Overture
The first factor that has drawn me to Martín y Soler was that he, a Spanish composer, could enjoy such resounding success in Europe’s most prominent musical centres in the final years of the 18th century, and that he was, at the same time, in direct competition to musicians of the highest level such as Mozart himself, whom he even managed to surpass in popularity.
What I find fascinating about Martín y Soler also coincides with what I think was one of the keys to his success: to be a flexible and versatile musician who knew how to adapt himself and his music to the various trends and requirements that he had to face during the various and different (also geographical) situations of his life, be that in Spain, Italy, England, Russia or Vienna with their respective Italian, French and Russian operas.
A great example of this is what happened when the empress Catherine II of Russia requested the service of Vicente Martín y Soler, who was at that moment a highly acclaimed composer and a favourite of Joseph II in Vienna, where he was known, in his role of a successful and celebrated maestro, as lo Spagnuolo.
The czarina was not satisfied with the work of Domenico Cimarosa who was then maestro di cappella at the Imperial Court and whose duties included the composition of Italian operas and the new Russian opera which Catherine II wanted to empower. Martín y Soler knew how to adapt to his Russian operas and highly fulfilled what was expected of him.
On the other hand, thanks to this replacement, in 1791 Cimarosa reached Vienna where he occupied, for a few months, the position of court composer that was formerly deserted by Salieri, (a position also intensely desired by Mozart, dead by then), to conduct the premiere of Il Matrimonio segreto in February 1792 with resounding success, which is considered today his best opera and one of the best comic operas of that period. It is well known how, after the sudden death (by poisoning?) of the Austrian emperor Leopold in March 1792, Cimarosa had to leave the Imperial Court and Salieri received his position of court composer back, to keep it de facto for another thirty years.
Cimarosa, Il matrimonio segreto (2012)
Another of the keys to Martín y Soler’s success was that he knew how to keep this flexibility and his ability to adapt without ever losing his own style and essence.
Throughout his career, his aesthetics follow certain general guidelines similar to those used by Spanish composers of the 18th century: a clear and clean orchestration, that avoids excess and artificiality where the voice did not compete in a counterpoint way with the orchestra, and a contained harmony. This apparent simplicity, his capacity for creating beautiful and catchy melodies and that amiable atmosphere of divertimento of his operas enchanted and captivated the audience of all the social classes.
It surely comes across as striking, yet during Martín y Soler’s Viennese period his operas were certainly more frequently performed and had more success than the majority of Mozart’s, who deliberately wrote for intellectual elite.
2. You gained great audience and critical acclaim a few years ago, thanks to your most beautiful and brilliant production of Haydn’s opera La vera costanza. What did you love most of Haydn, the opera composer? And in what elements of his operas do you think the inventiveness and wit of the Haydn of the Quartets and of the Symphonies do emerge with all their charm?
Haydn really played a major and fundamental role in establishing two of the greatest forms of western music: the string quartet and the symphony. He used the string quartet as the means for formal experimenting, achieving thus that peculiar unity, where before there was just a series of movements. He exports his work on the string quartet to his symphonies and, of course, to his operas as well. That interrelation between different genres that he encouraged is, in its essence, both logical and visible. During his life, Haydn enjoyed success and recognition for his work, as rarely happens in history, however after his death and to this day his numerous and valuable works have become progressively forgotten and neglected due to various circumstances. Among these circumstances there is certainly also the appearance of Mozart and Beethoven, and so daddy Haydn started occupying the real undeserved role of a mere introduction to the well-known geniuses.
His very works are a real example of this kind of oblivion that their composer Haydn had to suffer, since they are rarely featured in present theatre programmes, and this is a tremendous pity.
I have been lucky enough to be able to work on such magnificent title as La vera costanza (1779)…
Haydn, La vera costanza, Sinfonia Introduzione
Haydn, La vera costanza, Finale Atto II
… and Il mondo della luna (1777), both composed while Haydn was in the service of the Eszterházy family (and the majority of his operatic catalogue was conceived, written and produced in such circumstances).
Haydn’s creativity and imagination are overwhelming. His arias and ensemble numbers have their own personality and they are characterized by that peculiar Haydnian scent, so to speak. Haydn is a real magician when it comes to regulating the intensity of music and to carrying it to its climax in a masterly way in his Finale, as his friend and admirer Mozart did in a very similar way.
However Haydn had a disadvantage, when we consider his opera production in comparison to that of Mozart and Martín y Soler: the quality of his librettos, in reality, was not excellent. Working in the Eszterházy court, he did not have a lot of opportunities to work with librettists of the rank of Lorenzo Da Ponte, while Mozart and Martín y Soler could work with him, one of the best librettists of that period. Probably this is one of the reasons why present day theatres do not produce his operas with particular assiduousness, even though Haydn’s music is so marvellous.
Another aspect that I much cherish in Haydn is his humour, always so manifestly evident in his entire musical production and this even more overtly and effectively in his own operas.
3. Thanks to your activity as concert organizer, you have revived also a special type of 1780s concert: concerts featuring, during the same soirée, music by Mozart and by Martín y Soler. Probably the first time this happens since 1780s, when we know from the sources that music-lovers adored to organize such types of concerts (Mozart+Martín y Soler) with «extraordinarily numerous audience… and in unanimous satisfaction… elicited unanimous applause». What have been your impressions in finally re-uniting such two great masters of music for the same concert? Mozart wrote also a few vocal pieces to be included in the Operas by Martín y Soler: do you think he wrote such pieces, by using exclusively his own style or added also a bit of Martín y Soler in them?
I see this type of programmes with great satisfaction, both on a personal level and also because of the reaction of the audience and of the musicians themselves. A marvellous example is the programme for the debut of my period instrument orchestra La Madrileña which featured exclusively works by both authors. I chose masterpieces by Mozart such as the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor,…
Mozart, Symphony nº 40
… the aria of Leporello Madamina, il catalogo è questo from Don Giovanni or the duo Crudel! Perchè finora from The marriage of Figaro and I combined them with overtures, arias and duos from operas by Martín y Soler such as Il burbero di buon cuore, Una cosa rara, La capricciosa corretta and L’isola del piacere. These works did not only prove a competence of Martín y Soler on the level of a Mozart, but the audience and even some of the orchestra members themselves were really amazed at the intrinsic high quality of Martín y Soler’s works.
Regarding your second question, yes indeed, the musical interrelation between Mozart and Martín y Soler is not only due to the famous quote from Una cosa rara which appears in the finale of Don Giovanni.
Sometimes these operas were performed during a long period of time and it would be necessary to replace one or another of the singers and such situations led to inevitably remake and readjust the music to the new voices.
This is exactly what happened in 1789 with the repositioning of a few arias of Il Burbero di buon cuore for the character of Madama Lucilla: Chi sa qual sia and Vado, ma dove.
Mozart, Aria Chi sa qual sia
This opera by Martín y Soler had premiered three years before and the new singer, Louise Villeneuve, needed for her arias to be developed in a more centred register. As lo Spagnuolo, Martín y Soler, was in San Petersburg, Mozart received the assignment for the rewriting. Mozart accepted and composed these two magnificent arias based on the same text by Lorenzo Da Ponte, yet in his own personal style.
4. Your orchestra La Madrileña receives its name after Martín y Soler first opera Il tutore burlato or La Madrileña (1775-1776 as zarzuela), both as an homage to Martín y Soler and as a label for your Music Project The Martín y Soler Project. Among your activities with your orchestra, you are presenting a series of concerts featuring again rare beautiful music from the Spain of the 18th century with works by Martín y Soler, Boccherini, José de Nebra, Rodriguez de Hita and from the Zarzuela tradition. What are your vision and your projects for your orchestra La Madrileña and for the music of 18th century for the future, especially regarding The Martín y Soler Project? Do you think also that your activity of music critical editor will lead you also to re-discover some other lost music gems, after your marvellous work with Martín y Soler’s opera Pesnolubie?
I have great and ambitious expectations for La Madrileña and The Martín y Soler Project related activities. I hope we could soon complete our concert activities with also a series of productions of opera and zarzuela; the musicians I am fortunate to rely on are extremely capable and this allows them to tackle any type of production.
Regarding the Martín y Soler Project, which is in the DNA of La Madrileña, it is through this project that we aspire to encounter the recognition that Martín y Soler deserves. I firmly believe that the ideal way to showcase his music qualities is through an orchestra of period instruments of the highest standard such as La Madrileña.
Regarding the second question, I have been finding really hidden gems for so many years, until today, and I am sure that this state of things will certainly continue in this way, as long as I steadily carry on a strenuous archival and documentary research.
On the other hand, and especially regarding the Spanish music heritage, we have to state that it is so vast and of such a high quality, that it is hard to believe that it has been so scarcely performed so far. In addition, I have the pleasure to be able to rely on the invaluable help of various musicologists. Vera Fouter is one of them and her contribution is the largest one to The Martín y Soler Project. Doctor Fouter (Vera Fouter at Academia; Read here her work on Martín y Soler – University of Oviedo: La Estancia en Rusia de Vicente Martín y Soler: nuevas aportaciones musicologicas) is an academic major, specialized in Martín y Soler and it is mainly thanks to her studies and efforts that the revival in modern times of three arias from the opera Pesnolubie by Martín y Soler has been possible and this with the collaboration of La Madrileña: such works, in fact, have not been performed for more than 200 years!
Martín y Soler, Aria V svéte liúdi svoevólni, from opera Pesnolubie
Presently we continue working together on Martín y Soler’s music and we are really looking forward to being able to show the fruit of our work, as soon as possible, by presenting, to the public, new marvellous forgotten gems by him and by other composers.
5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
This is a tough question, since I am literally capable of crazily falling in love with the works I am working on at the moment.
If I am conducting the 41st Symphony by Mozart, it happens that, during the process of study, the rehearsals, and the concerts, that very symphony can become even my favourite symphony ever.
And this always happens to me, always and with all the works I am working on.
However, if I had really to choose an opera, in particular, and nothing else, I’d choose Don Giovanni.
Mozart, Don Giovanni, Overture
Mozart, Don Giovanni, Aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo
I also think that that very peculiar experience that one lives when conducting (one’s memories, perceptions, the atmosphere, etc.), always exerts a great influence on one’s disposition towards things and also towards music works.
Many things, so, may exert a direct influence on one’s choices, but, without a doubt, Don Giovanni is special to me.
For Haydn, I would choose Die Schöpfung.
It is a masterpiece for which I have always cultivated a profound admiration: it is an oratorio full of subtleties and of dramatic qualities, well deserving to be positioned among the greatest masterpieces of all time.
6. Beside Martín y Soler, do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?
I am interested in José de Nebra (1702-1768), a Spanish composer who composed marvellous zarzuelas and sacred works.
He is a great artist who, with minimal resources, was capable of achieving great expressiveness: a characteristic typical only of great maestros.
7. Considering your work on Martín y Soler and the zarzuela, name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
Any opera by Martín y Soler and any zarzuela by Nebra represent marvellous concert and performance proposals, worthy to be included into any Music Season programme more frequently.
8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
I think it is of great importance to develop a proper knowledge both of the oldest and of the latest musical treatises, with a particular attention to those treatises, which belong to the same era as the music works you are working on: it’s the only way to better understand any phase of the musical creativity process in its correct context and also within the historical flow.
To have a wider perspective always gives you the possibility of a better comprehension both of the subject, as a whole, and of its single parts and elements. Considering this special perspective, I think that the famous treatises by Quantz and Leopold Mozart are indispensable tools for any musician, even though those treatises belong to a previous generation, or better, exactly because they belong to that previous generation that produced the music of the 18th century.
On the other hand, I consider it very useful to develop also a proper historical, social and political knowledge, and not only a musical and an artistic one. I would like to cite here The Present State of Music in France and Italy by Charles Bruney and the Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte, both perfect books for that type of intellectual work, I was talking about.
[The Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte are already available to read & download at the MozartCircle Library: Mozart’s Life Books – Other Sources. Also the other books and treatises will be available soon.]
9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
Considering the movies related to classicism, it is inevitable to remember the most famous Amadeus.
To complete an ideal trilogy that would help to grant a perspective on the previous and later periods I would cite Eroica, which re-enacts the first rehearsal of the 3rd Symphony by Beethoven (the recording is with musicians who play on period instruments), and Farinelli, il castrato, especially because of the very peculiar relationship of this great singer and of his family with Spain.
10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century piano music?
I think that if I had to choose a place, it would be Vienna.
The weight and influence that Haydn and Mozart had on Beethoven and on the future of the German and European music is simply indisputable.
However we cannot forget to mention Italy.
The musical genre of Viennese classicism, in fact, is par excellence, in reality, the Italian Opera buffa, to which later composers, like Rossini and Donizetti, gave their enormous contribution, preparing the way to a long series of excellent maestros, from Bellini to Verdi.
Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
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Read this Interview in English
José Antonio Montaño: Sitios Oficiales
José Antonio Montaño Sitio Oficial: José Antonio Montaño
José Antonio Montaño Sitio Oficial: La Madrileña Orquesta
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José Antonio Montaño dirigiendo Martín y Soler, Haydn & Mozart:
1. Gracias a su intensa actividad como director de orquesta, director artístico, estudioso de música y editor crítico, ha logrado desarrollar una importante serie de proyectos musicales con una tríada vienesa muy especial: Mozart, Haydn y Martín y Soler. Realmente recrea, de esta manera, esta específica y auténtica atmósfera musical de la Viena de la década de 1780, cuando Haydn ya era papá Haydn y tanto Mozart como Martín y Soler (respaldados por esos grandes libretos de Da Ponte) crearon los Best Sellers de los teatros de ópera de Viena a Praga con sus Nozze di Figaro, Una cosa rara, Don Giovanni y L’arbore di Diana, conviertiendo al existoso Martín y Soler en el compositor favorito de la Corte Imperial. ¿Qué es lo que más le fascina de la música de Martín y Soler? Y, en su opinión, ¿Qué características de su música y de sus óperas impresionaron y atrajeron tanto al público del siglo XVIII para que las óperas de Martín y Soler se representaran en esa cantidad tan extraordinaria de cifras durante ese período (casi 100 sólo para Una cosa Rara y el ingreso habitual de un teatro para 24 representaciones exitosas estaba ca. 20 000 florines, i.e. ca. 140 000 US dólares modernos: el salario anual Imperial de Mozart estaba 800 florines, i.e. ca. 4 800 US dólares modernos)?
Desde mis primeros años como director musical he tenido el impulso interno de investigar y llevar a escena obras olvidadas de autores no muy populares como La Contadina de Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), la zarzuela Las labradoras de Murcia de Antonio Rodríguez de Hita (1724-1787) o el oratorio Il sacrifizio di Abramo de Camilla de Rossi (16??-1710). En este contexto profundicé en el estudio de autores españoles de los siglos XVII y XVIII donde apareció el gran Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806). Se dio además la circunstancia de que en el año 2006 el Teatro Real de Madrid, donde trabajaba como director de su joven orquesta la Orquesta Escuela de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, programó su ópera Il Tutore Burlato (1775) con motivo del 200 aniversario de su muerte, por lo que tuve la oportunidad de trabajar a fondo su música. Fue a partir de este momento cuando empecé a estudiar su obra y vida de manera más profunda.
Martín y Soler, Il Tutore Burlato, Overture
Lo primero que me atrajo de él fue el hecho de que un compositor español lograra éxitos tan rotundos en los centros musicales europeos más importantes de finales del siglo XVIII, y que fuera la competencia de autores como el propio Mozart, al que superó en popularidad.
Lo que me fascina de él coincide con lo que fue, a mi parecer, una de las claves de su éxito; ser un músico flexible y versátil que supo amoldarse a las diferentes corrientes y exigencias que se fue encontrando durante los diferentes periodos de su vida en España, Italia, Viena, Inglaterra y Rusia a través de la ópera italiana, francesa o rusa.
Un ejemplo de esto ocurrió cuando la emperatriz Catalina II de Rusia reclamó al compositor más aclamado del momento y favorito de José II de Viena, Vicente Martín y Soler lo Spagnuolo.
La zarina no estaba satisfecha con el trabajo que estaba realizando Domenico Cimarosa contratado como Maestro de capilla de la Corte Imperial y cuyas funciones comprendían la composición de ópera italiana y la nueva ópera rusa que Catalina II quería fortalecer. Martín y Soler supo adaptarse con sus óperas rusas y cumplió altamente con sus expectativas.
Por otro lado, gracias a esta sustitución, Cimarosa regresaría a Viena donde ocuparía el puesto de compositor de la corte abandonado previamente por Salieri, y tan ansiado por el ya fallecido Mozart, para estrenar con rotundo éxito en 1792 Il Matrimonio segreto, considerada hoy día su mejor ópera y una de las mejores óperas cómicas del momento. Es bien sabido cómo, después de la muerte súbita (por envenenamiento?) del emperador austríaco Leopoldo en marzo 1792, Cimarosa se vio obligado a abandonar la Corte Imperial y Salieri obtuvo de nuevo el cargo de compositor de la corte, para mantenerlo de facto durante otros treinta años.
Cimarosa, Il matrimonio segreto (2012)
Otra de las claves de su éxito fue que Martín y Soler supo mantener esta flexibilidad y capacidad de adaptación sin perder nunca su propio estilo y esencia.
Su estética mantiene a lo largo de su carrera unas pautas generales similares a las que usaban los compositores españoles del siglo XVIII; una orquestación clara y limpia que huye de los excesos y artificios donde la voz no competía contrapuntisticamente contra la orquesta y una armonía contenida. Esta aparente sencillez, su capacidad para crear bonitas y pegadizas melodías y el clima amable de divertimento de sus óperas cautivaron al público de todas las clases sociales. Resulta llamativo pero, lo cierto es que en la época vienesa de Martín y Soler sus óperas se representaron mucho más y con mayor éxito que las de Mozart el cual escribía deliberadamente para una élite intelectual.
2. Usted ganó gran audiencia y aclamación de la crítica hace unos años, gracias a su producción más hermosa y brillante de la ópera de Haydn La vera costanza. ¿Qué es lo que más le gusta de Haydn, el compositor de ópera? ¿Y en qué elementos de sus óperas cree que la inventiva y el ingenio del Haydn de los Cuartetos y de las Sinfonías emergen con todo su encanto?
Haydn es el máximo responsable del establecimiento de dos de las grandes formas de la música occidental como son el cuarteto de cuerda y la sinfonía. Utilizó el cuarteto como medio de experimentación formal logrando una unidad donde antes había una sucesión de movimientos. Esta característica la exporta a sus sinfonías y por su puesto, a sus óperas. La interrelación entre los distintos géneros que cultivó es lógica y visible. Haydn gozó en vida de un reconocimiento absoluto como ha ocurrido en pocas ocasiones a lo largo de la historia, pero tras su muerte y hasta la actualidad su numerosa y valiosa obra ha quedado en gran parte olvidada por diversas circunstancias, entre ellas la aparición de Mozart y Beethoven donde papa Haydn parece haber quedado relegado al mero preámbulo de los dos archiconocidos genios.
Sus óperas son el mejor ejemplo de este olvido ya que raramente se ven programadas por los teatros actuales lo que es una verdadera lástima.
Yo he tenido la gran suerte de poder trabajar dos magníficos títulos como son La vera costanza (1779)…
Haydn, La vera costanza, Sinfonia Introduzione
Haydn, La vera costanza, Finale Atto II
… e Il mondo della luna (1777), ambas compuestas estando al servicio de la casa Eszterházy como la mayoría de su catálogo operístico.
La creatividad e imaginación de Haydn es abrumadora. Sus arias y conjuntos tienen una personalidad propia y huelen a él. Es un mago regulando la intensidad de la música y llevándola a sus clímax de una manera magistral en sus Finale al igual que hacía su amigo y admirado Mozart.
Pero Haydn tenía una desventaja frente a Mozart y a Martín y Soler, la calidad de los libretos. Haydn al estar en la corte de los Eszterházy no tuvo tantas oportunidades de trabajar con libretistas de la altura de Lorenzo Da Ponte, como sí pudieron hacer Mozart y Martín y Soler. Quizás esta sea una de las razones por la que los teatros actuales no programan con tanta asiduidad sus óperas, pese a que su música es maravillosa.
Otro de los aspectos que adoro de Haydn es su humor, manifiesto en toda su producción musical pero de manera mucho más clara y efectiva en sus óperas.
3. Gracias a su actividad como organizador de conciertos, ha hecho revivir también un tipo especial de conciertos en torno a la década de 1780: conciertos que presentan, durante la misma soirée, música de Mozart y de Martín y Soler. Probablemente la primera vez que esto sucede desde la década de 1780, cuando sabemos por las fuentes que los amantes de la música solían organizar este tipo de conciertos (Mozart + Martín y Soler) con «audiencia extraordinariamente numerosa … y con satisfacción unánime … provocó unánimes aplausos». ¿Cuáles han sido sus impresiones finalmente al reunir a estos dos grandes maestros de música en un mismo concierto? Mozart escribió también algunas piezas vocales para ser incluidas en las Óperas de Martín y Soler: ¿cree que escribió tales piezas, usando exclusivamente su propio estilo o cree que añadó también un poco de Martín y Soler en ellas?
Mi impresión personal respecto a este tipo de programas es de auténtica satisfacción tanto a nivel personal como por la reacción del público y de los propios músicos. Por ejemplo, el programa del concierto de presentación de mi orquesta de instrumentos de época La Madrileña estuvo formado exclusivamente por obras de ambos autores. Elegí obras maestras de Mozart como son la Sinfonía nº 40 en Sol Menor,…
Mozart, Sinfonía nº 40
… el aria de Leporello Madamina, il catalogo è questo de Don Giovanni o el dúo Crudel! Perchè finora de Le nozze di Figaro y las combiné con oberturas, arias y dúos de óperas de Martín y Soler como Il burbero di buon cuore, Una cosa rara, La capricciosa corretta o L’isola del piacere. Estas piezas no sólo estuvieron a la altura del combate con Mozart sino que el público, e incluso algunos miembros de la propia orquesta, quedaron sorprendidos de la gran calidad de las obras de Martín y Soler.
Respecto a la segunda pregunta, efectivamente la interrelación musical entre Mozart y Martín y Soler no se debe solamente a la famosa cita de Una cosa rara que aparece en el final de Don Giovanni.
Hay que saber que los compositores escribían sus óperas conociendo de antemano a los cantantes que las iban a interpretar y ajustaban sus composiciones a las características vocales de éstos. A veces estas óperas se representaban durante mucho tiempo y era necesario sustituir a algún cantante, lo que obligaba a rehacer y reajustar la música para adaptarla a las nuevas voces. Esto es justo lo que ocurrió en 1789 con la reposición de Il Burbero di buon cuore en las dos arias del personaje Madama Lucilla: Chi sa qual sia y Vado, ma dove.
Mozart, Aria Chi sa qual sia
Esta ópera de Martín y Soler se había estrenado tres años antes y la nueva cantante Louise Villeneuve necesitaba que sus arias se desarrollaran en un registro más centrado. Como lo Spagnuolo se encontraba en San Petersburgo se le hizo el encargo de la reescritura a Mozart quien aceptó y compuso estas dos magníficas arias sobre el mismo texto de Lorenzo Da Ponte pero, en su propio estilo personal.
4. Su orquesta La Madrileña recibe su nombre de la primera ópera de Martín y Soler Il tutore burlato (1775) al convertirse en zarzuela La Madrileña (1776), como homenaje a Martín y Soler y como sello para su Proyecto Martín y Soler. Entre sus actividades con su orquesta, está presentando una serie de conciertos con una desconocida y bella música de la España del siglo XVIII con obras de Martín y Soler, Boccherini, José de Nebra, Rodríguez de Hita y de la tradición zarzuelística. ¿Cuál es su visión y sus proyectos para su orquesta La Madrileña y para la música del siglo XVIII en el futuro, especialmente en relación al Proyecto Martín y Soler? ¿Cree que su actividad como editor crítico de música le llevará a redescubrir algunas otras joyas de la música perdida, después de tu maravilloso trabajo con la ópera Pesnolubie de Martín y Soler?
Mis expectativas respecto a la actividad con La Madrileña y The Martín y Soler Project son grandes y ambiciosas. Espero que pronto podamos complementar nuestra actividad de conciertos con producciones de ópera o zarzuela, el nivel de los músicos con los que tengo la fortuna de contar es muy alto y permite abordar cualquier tipo de producción.
Respecto al proyecto Martín y Soler, pertenece al ADN de La Madrileña, a través de él queremos buscar el reconocimiento que merece Martín y Soler. Creo firmemente que la forma óptima de mostrar las cualidades de su música es a través de una orquesta de instrumentos de época del más alto nivel como La Madrileña.
Respecto a la segunda pregunta, llevo muchos años encontrándome con joyas escondidas y estoy seguro de que seguirá siendo así ya que mantengo una intensa labor de investigación.
Por otro lado y en relación al patrimonio musical español, decir que es muy vasto, de gran calidad y que está menos interpretado de lo que merece. Además, tengo la fortuna de poder contar con la inestimable ayuda de diferentes musicólogos, uno de los que más está aportando a The Martín y Soler Project es Vera Fouter. La doctora Fouter (Vera Fouter en Academia; Lee aquí su obra sobre Martín y Soler – Universidad de Oviedo: La Estancia en Rusia de Vicente Martín y Soler: nuevas aportaciones musicologicas) está especializada en este autor y es la primera responsable de que se pudieran reestrenar en tiempos modernos con La Madrileña tres arias de la ópera Pesnolubie de Martín y Soler que hacía más de 200 años que no se interpretaban.
Martín y Soler, Aria V svéte liúdi svoevólni, de la ópera Pesnolubie
Actualmente seguimos trabajando conjuntamente sobre su música y esperamos poder mostrar pronto el fruto de nuestro trabajo con nuevas Joyas olvidadas de este y otros autores.
5. Su obra favorita de Mozart y su obra favorita de J. Haydn.
Es una pregunta muy difícil de responder. Tengo la capacidad de enamorarme con locura de las obras que estoy trabajando en cada momento.
Si estoy dirigiendo la Sinfonía 41 de Mozart, durante mi estudio, ensayos y conciertos será mi sinfonía preferida.
Siempre me ocurre lo mismo.
Pero si tuviera que decantarme por una ópera, elegiría Don Giovanni.
Mozart, Don Giovanni, Overture
Mozart, Don Giovanni, Aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo
También creo que influye en esto las experiencias que uno ha tenido al dirigir esas obras, los recuerdos, las sensaciones, etc.
Influyen muchas cosas, pero Don Giovanni sin duda es especial para mí.
Respecto a Haydn elegiría Die Schöpfung.
Es una obra maestra que siempre he admirado llena de sulilezas y dramatismo, digna de ocupar podio entre las mejores obras maestras de todos los tiempos.
6. Junto a Martín y Soler, ¿tiene usted en mente el nombre de algún otro compositor descuidado del siglo XVIII que le gustaría ver reevaluado?
Me interesa mucho José de Nebra (1702-1768), un compositor español autor de estupendas zarzuelas y obras sacras.
Es un gran artista que consigue con los mínimos recursos una gran expresividad propia sólo de los grandes maestros.
7. Considerando su trabajo sobre Martín y Soler y la zarzuela, nombre una obra musical abandonada del siglo XVIII que le gustaría ver interpretada en concierto con más frecuencia.
Cualquier ópera de Martín y Soler y cualquier zarzuela de Nebra serían estupendas propuestas dignas de ser programadas con más frecuencia.
8. ¿Ha leído algún libro en particular sobre la era de Mozart que considere importante para la comprensión de la música de este período?
Creo que es muy importante conocer los tratados musicales anteriores y posteriores además de los de la propia época para entender mejor cualquier etapa. Tener una perspectiva más amplia da una mejor comprensión tanto del todo como de la parte. En este aspecto considero imprescindibles los famosos tratados de Quantz y Leopold Mozart pertenecientes a la generación anterior.
Por otro lado considero que es muy útil recabar también conocimientos históricos, sociales y políticos, no sólo musicales y artísticos. En este sentido me gustaría citar The Present State of Music in France and Italy de Charles Bruney o Memoirs de Lorenzo Da Ponte.
[Las Memorias de Lorenzo Da Ponte ya están disponibles para leer y descargar a la Biblioteca MozartCircle: Libros sobre la vida de Mozart – Otras fuentes. Luego también los otros libros y tratados estarán disponibles.]
9. Nombre una película o un documental que pueda mejorar la comprensión de la música de este período.
Pensando en películas relacionadas con el clasicismo es inevitable acordarse de la famosísima Amadeus.
Para completar una trilogía que ayude a tener cierta perspectiva anterior y posterior citaría Heroica, que revive el primer ensayo de la 3a Sinfonía de Beethoven, grabada con músicos que tocan instrumentos de la época, y Farinelli, il castrato, especialmente por su relación con España.
10. ¿Cree usted que hay un lugar especial que resultara crucial en la evolución de la música del siglo XVIII?
Creo que si hay que elegir un lugar sería Viena.
El peso e influencia que adquirieron Haydn y Mozart en Beethoven y en el futuro de la música alemana y europea es indiscutible.
Aunque no me puedo olvidar de Italia.
El género musical por excelencia del clasicismo vienés es la Opera buffa italiana a la que después contribuirían autores como Rossini o Donizetti, dando paso a una larga cadena de excelentes maestros, pasando por Bellini hasta llegar a Verdi.
Muchas gracias por haber tomado el tiempo para responder a nuestras preguntas!
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La iconografía está en público dominio o en fair use.
|5 Viola & Harpsichord/Piano
4 Sonatas Op. 5 & Sonata
in E Flat Major
for viola & piano by J.B.Vanhal.
Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
Edward Green: Edward Green (Manhattan School of Music – New York)
Edward Green: Edward Green (Aesthetic Realism Foundation)
Edward Green: Edward Green’s Concertino (Grammy Award Nominated)
Edward Green: Edward Green’s Trumpet Concerto
Edward Green: Edward Green’s Quartet for Guitars
AN INTERVIEW/ESSAY WITH SCHOLAR & COMPOSER EDWARD GREEN
Question No. 1 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 2 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 3 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 4 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 5 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 6 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 7 (Read)
Question No. 8 (Read or Choose a Chapter)
Question No. 9 (Read)
Question No. 10 (Read)
1. You have been a champion of an important new approach to Musicology and to the understanding and teaching Music History: Aesthetic Realism. Clearly, it has profoundly informed your scholarly activity, including as to the Classical Era. Can you tell us more about this, including about your studies with its founder, the eminent American poet and scholar Eli Siegel?
Thank you for asking. Let me begin by saying that I see Eli Siegel’s definition of beauty as the greatest philosophic and cultural achievement of the 20th century. «All beauty,» he explained, «is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.» This definition gives what the centuries have searched for: the explanation of what beauty is in all the arts. It shows the true relation of Art and Life. It also makes possible something completely new in music education: a way for people to learn technically from the music we care for how to have lives that are good.
For example, take what might be the most famous music from the Classical Era: the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It is passionate, yet controlled. There is a torrent of energy joined to notes which hold firm. It has enormous abandon, yet at the very same time it is so precise. Isn’t this what we are hoping for? Don’t we want the equivalent of this in our lives? As Eli Siegel said in a 1951 lecture: «There is not one thing music does which does not say something about how a person should organize himself, too».
The logic of Aesthetic Realism about the relation of Art and Life thrills me, and has thrilled me since I first met it decades ago. I was 14, and read Eli Siegel’s The Aesthetic Method in Self-Conflict, a chapter from his larger work Self and World, which is published by Definition Press. I remember, in my teenage enthusiasm, saying right after I read it: «This explains everything!». Well, here I am, a bit more than 50 years later, and with a great deal more scholarly and artistic experience… and while likely I’d use different words to express my opinion, I have that opinion more firmly than ever: there is no book greater than Self and World if one wants to see what the human self truly is; nor any work which explains more deeply the meaning of art.
I’ll quote a passage from The Aesthetic Method which I love: «Beauty has not been respected sufficiently. The word beauty, even today, has a delicate, frail ring to it. If you talk about beauty, you are regarded by many as not being tough-minded. This should stop. Beauty has to be seen as complete logic, good sense carried further than usual: resplendent sanity».
This is so important. For example, a person can feel that when they are tender, yielding they are not the same person as when they are tough and assertive. Literally, we can seem to ourselves and others like two different people. A person can likewise feel that to be exact and logical, he has to keep his emotions out of it. Or to have a passionate time, he has to put his critical intellect aside.
These divisions gives us pain. But the setting off of one opposite against another, and at the expense of the other, is exactly what art never does. For example, in Mozart’s 40th Symphony, assertion and yielding, exactitude and passionate intensity, are beautifully together. Art, I learned from Aesthetic Realism, embodies the integrity and good sense we want; it is «resplendent sanity».
Another core principle of Aesthetic Realism is: «The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites». We come from the world; its substance is our substance. Because of this, I learned, we need to do all we can to like the world in order to like ourselves. Eli Siegel’s grand principle provides the logic for this: it shows the unbreakable connection between who we are, what the world is, and the beauty of art.
It is also crucial for our happiness to study what Aesthetic Realism explains, for the first time, is the unconscious ethical debate which goes on in everyone: Is it better to respect the world and other people, or to look down on them and feel superior through having contempt for them? «There is a disposition in every person,» wrote Eli Siegel, «to think we will be for ourselves by making less of the outside world.» And he wrote: «The greatest danger for a person is to have contempt for the world and what is in it, despite its aesthetic structure».
Contempt weakens our minds; it stops us from finding value where it authentically can be found. Music stands for the principle of respect, and is a constant criticism of the contemptuous way of mind.
For example, when a person has contempt, he asserts himself at the expense of other people and the world. This doesn’t happens in successful music. A good composer takes the diversity of sound, the diversity of instruments, and gives it form. Nothing is diminished: every note helps every other note in a melody; every movement helps every other movement in a symphony. Difference is cared for, not scorned. And this is equally true – is it ever! – for the art of performance and improvisation: you express your own part, your own voice, your own very personal feeling, and simultaneously you blend with, fit in with, every other part and are moved by the feelings of the other musicians around you.
This is the ethical message music has. It is a message very much needed now – in my own country, and across the world.
In my opinion, Aesthetic Realism provides Musicology with something it never had before: a methodology completely free of cultural bias and limitation. That is because it is a way of seeing music which begins in a bedrock manner, with what is logically prior to any individual culture. That bedrock – the oneness of opposites – is the permanent metaphysics of the world. Motion and rest; diversity and unity; separation and junction: these are aspects of what reality always is. Every culture is based on, and also illustrates, the great fact that reality itself has an aesthetic structure. So does every instance of music.
An essay on this subject which I co-authored with the noted anthropologist Arnold Perey is Aesthetic Realism: A New Foundation for Interdisciplinary Musicology, which was presented at the 2004 conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music: edgreenmusic.org/1-ESCOM.htm. We show that whatever its genre, or century of its origin, or the society which gave it birth, music always attempts to answer humanity’s deepest need: to like the world on an honest basis by seeing its aesthetic structure. As a musicologist – let alone as a composer – my gratitude to Eli Siegel for showing this is enormous.
I studied with Eli Siegel from 1974 to 1978, attending Aesthetic Realism classes he taught in New York City. It was right after I had completed my undergraduate studies in music and philosophy at Oberlin College. It was the honor of my life that he accepted me as a student. He had greatness in three fields. He was great as an artist, a scholar, and in terms of human kindness. In the hundreds of classes I attended which he taught, there was consistent intellectual honesty, beauty in his words, and the never-failing presence of good will.
He was born in 1902, and lived to 1978. He founded Aesthetic Realism in 1942. A compact biographical sketch which I wrote of him, which was originally a Google Knol, can be found at: aestheticrealism.org/knol-on-eli-siegel/. I’ll mention just one fact, here: in 1925 he won the poetry prize of The Nation for his Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana. I love this poem, and I’d like to quote some lines. The idea, so central to Aesthetic Realism, that everyone’s deepest desire is to like the world through knowing it, is already here in embryo – and given beautiful poetic music:
«The world is waiting to be known; Earth, what it has in it! The past is in it;
All words, feelings, movements, words, bodies, clothes, girls, trees, stones,
things of beauty, books, desires are in it; and all are to be known;
Afternoons have to do with the whole world;
And the beauty of mind, feeling knowingly the world!»
Wrote William Carlos Williams: «I say definitely that that single poem, out of a thousand others written in the past quarter century, secures our place in the cultural world». Williams wrote that in 1951; when Hot Afternoons appeared as the title poem of a volume of Eli Siegel’s poetry in 1957, that volume was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
I said earlier that when I studied with Eli Siegel, every class was beautiful: there was a depth of human kindness simultaneous with scholarly precision. I can give an example. It was a class in 1975, which I remember with large gratitude. In it, I learned how – without my having known it – I had a way of seeing people which interfered with my expression as a composer. I was not yet 24. And my way of seeing music and my family was unfortunately representative of many young musicians.
Though I had studied hard in ear-training classes to listen to music well, I had made up my mind that there was nothing of any importance I could hear from my parents. This, I learned, was contempt and it was against art.
In this class, he asked me:
«Do you think the way you see your parents is good for music, or not good, or is there no relation?»
EG: I don’t see a relation.
ES: Do you think that music is an attempt to take different things and show that they can work together?
ES: Do you feel if you could say, «I like the way I see my parents,» you will be in harmony with yourself more than if you say, «I don’t want to think about them?»
EG: Yes, I see that.
ES: And if you show a lessening of harmony in one field, do you think it has some relation to a lessening of harmony in other fields?
EG: It must.
ES: You don’t want to think about your parents because you think it will interfere with your comfort. But the whole history of music is to get to something uncomfortable and show that there is something harmonious there – and particularly modern music. One we decide to be contemptuous of anything it can work even in a field where we think we are fervent. So, would you say that when you dismiss the reality which is your parents you are caring for the reality music tries to describe?
ES: As soon as you insult any reality, you insult reality as such; and reality as such is what you want to see as an artist.
What a wonderful, grand education I was getting in the relation of art and life! Also in the essentials of harmony: the fact that when harmony is successful, it is a oneness of difference and sameness, disagreement and agreement – of sounds which discomfort us and sounds which soothe. Of course, I had had years of technical study in harmony before this 1975 lesson. But never once in my classes at Oberlin, or in any textbook I ever read later, was the subject of harmony actually, pointedly made useful to my life. Up to that moment, it might as well have been abstract sonic engineering – and I am afraid it is still largely taught this way.
Because of my Aesthetic Realism education, I’m able to ask students questions in the classroom that relate the technical, even mathematical details of music to the immediate, pressing questions they face in their lives: about their parents, about love, even about how to like a world that has so much economic and political injustice in it
Consider the subject of dissonance. Why, in music, is a well-placed dissonance such a welcome thing? It has to do with life: we need to oppose complacency in ourselves, and perhaps in others – and to do so with good will. Criticism that is kind is against a person and for that person at the same time. We question someone, even sharply, with the hope to respect that person more: to encourage him or her to be in a fuller, richer, more exact relation to the world.
Now, a good non-chord tone does the same thing! – it questions the sounds around it so that they can be more vibrantly connected to what came before and what will come after. Think, for example, of the third measure of the Molto Allegro of the Overture to Don Giovanni and that marvelous D# in the key of D major. Perfectly beautiful, and perfectly dissonant! And it certainly helps everything around it.
People interested in this may enjoy an article I wrote in 2011 for the Hellenic Journal of Music, Education, and Culture, Harmony and the Oneness of Opposites: Teaching Music Theory through Aesthetic Realism. hejmec.eu/journal/index.php/HeJMEC/article/view/10/17
I’d also like to mention another publication in that journal: an interview I gave in 2015 with the renowned flutist Barbara Allen. In a vivid, thoroughly engaging way, she says things about music education, instrumental education, and life itself which every musician should know. Along with the singer Anne Fielding, who is an Obie Award-winning actor, we teach a class at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation titled The Opposites in Music. We’ve been doing so since 1980. Here’s the URL to the interview with Barbara Allen: hejmec.eu/journal/index.php/HeJMEC/article/view/55/51.
There’s a great deal more to say about the value of Aesthetic Realism, including how it sees science. All the sciences show that reality has an aesthetic structure: that it is the oneness of opposites. One of Eli Siegel’s major books, not yet published, is titled The Aesthetic Nature of the World – and it shows the underlying kinship of the sciences and the arts.
Though Eli Siegel died in 1978, his work has been carried forward by Ellen Reiss, the Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, and the faculty of the Foundation. Its website is aestheticrealism.org/ You can find writings there not only by Siegel but also by teachers and scholars in a wide range of disciplines who base their work on his great philosophy. I study in classes Ellen Reiss teaches; they are profound in their scholarship, beauty, and ethics. She is a true poet; in my opinion, she is without peer in the world today as a critic of that art. She also lectures on a large range of other subjects, including history and contemporary happenings. As a teacher myself, I’m inspired by her example. I’ve also benefitted personally many times in her classes.
I’ll mention an instance: some years back, in a class she taught, she dealt with the meaning of melody in music and its relation to two of the largest ethical matters in life: integrity and sincerity. It was a discussion in which I learned about my own attitude as a composer towards melody: how the desire to be impressive, rather than to see what I truly felt, hurt my music. The impact of that class was deeply useful to me as man and musician. In fact, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many other composers in the years since about what I learned in that class, and they were grateful to Ellen Reiss for having defined the problem so clearly. It is easy – oh, so easy – without realizing it, to go after impressiveness rather than sincerity.
2. Now a question about Haydn. Apparently, he was very jealous of his scores and his methods of harmonic and composition treatment. Your scholarly work, especially regarding his use of the technique of Chromatic Completion has been pioneering, and has unveiled some previously unknown aspects of his Art. Would you explain Chromatic Completion and its place in Haydn’s work? And in a more general way, what are your fundamental conclusions as to Haydn’s place in music history, and the enduring value of his work? In addition, you are on the Editorial Board of Haydn: The Online Journal; what have been the main challenges and goals of this important project?
My largest work concerning chromatic completion is the doctoral thesis I wrote in 2008 for New York University, Chromatic Completion in the Late Vocal Music of Haydn and Mozart: A Technical, Philosophic, and Historical Study.
It’s available through Inter-Library Loan, or from Pro Quest (available here at Pro Quest: search.proquest.com/docview). I’ve also published various articles on the subject; several are online.
Before I point to those articles, let me indicate swiftly what chromatic completion is, and why it matters. We have in western music twelve basic tones: the chromatic aggregate. Seven of these, in any given key, are diatonic. And chromatic completion occurs when – against that diatonic background – a composer gradually unfolds all twelve tones and then brings emphasis to an important structural or emotional moment in the music by having the final tone, the twelfth and completing tone, arrive at just that moment. Often in a vocal composition chromatic completion happens on a dramatically – even theologically – significant word.
In a moment, I’ll give an example from Haydn. But I want to preface the example by saying how important it is, when looking closely at any musical technique, not to separate it from feeling. Technique arises from feeling, I learned from Aesthetic Realism. It is true for chromatic completion: as I show in my thesis, many composers used the technique without being aware, just so, of it. With some however – most notably Haydn and Mozart – it was conscious. But Haydn and Mozart never employed the technique coldly; there was always an expressive reason for it.
Consider Haydn’s Harmoniemesse…
It has a sixteen measure orchestral introduction. The first non-diatonic tone, Gb, appears in measure 5. (We are in the key of Bb major). In measure 10 we hear E natural; in measure 12, Ab and Cb. All that remains to complete the unfolding of the chromatic aggregate is the tone which most plainly contradicts the underlying major key: the flattened third. Where does this Db appear? At the sudden entrance and passionate outburst of the chorus in measure 17 on the words Kyrie eleison… Lord have mercy. It is a moment at once bold and convincing. Chromatic completion helps give that boldness solid logic.
The technique of chromatic completion, I believe, has an ethical source. We all want to have integrity. We want to be complete, to be everything we can be and ought to be. We also need – for our own good opinion of ourselves – to see the world and other people with the fullness they deserve. Chromatic completion arose from this. It is a symbolic, technical expression of something deep in the human mind. It is technique impelled by profound emotion. And it doesn’t just happen in the Classical Era, although that period is where we find it most consciously employed. I have seen instances of chromatic completion in music from Bach to Puccini, from Richard Rodgers to The Beatles.
This likely is the time to mention some of my shorter essays on the topic. For example, Haydn’s Secret Dodecaphonic Art which I wrote in 2009 for the Journal of Music and Meaning, which is based in Denmark:
If you are a subscriber to the journal Haydn, there’s a 2011 article on how chromatic completion is present throughout his late masses – often with stunning technical bravura:
And If you have access to JSTOR, I wrote at length about the Chaos Prelude in Donald Francis Tovey, Aesthetic Realism, and the Need for a Philosophic Musicology. You’ll find that essay by looking up the Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 227-248.
Every year as I study music, I’m seeing more about what impels it. I’m learning new things about how ethics and aesthetics explain each other. You asked about Haydn’s place in music history, and the enduring value of his work. Both are enormous. I don’t want to sum the matter up swiftly, but one thing is very clear: What we find in the motto of the French Revolution, we find technically in Haydn’s music – only decades earlier. It has to do with his beautiful part-writing. He gave each part in an instrumental ensemble a new Liberty. The parts have independence, uniqueness. Unlike what we see in a good deal of earlier 18th-century composition, there is Equality in Haydn’s parts. In his quartets, for example, the first violin is not necessarily always in the lead. Anyone can have the main melody at any moment; there is no fixed or rigid hierarchy. Meanwhile, all the parts gracefully interlock and help each other. So there is also Fraternity – the feeling: «You are different from me, Brother, and you help me!».
This matter of Haydn’s way with part-writing is important aesthetically. It is also important from a strictly historical point-of-view, because it illustrates the ethics that were growing clearer and clearer, more and more insistent, throughout the 18th century: the ethics which would culminate in the 1789 revolution. Mozart learned from Haydn about beautiful part-writing (and much more). So did Beethoven. So, did every sensitive musician of the time and the next generation. The impact of Haydn on Rossini is obvious in his nickname: Il Tedesco. Haydn’s impact on Glinka is unmistakable as well – and I could name many others.
As for the Haydn Society of North America, I’m proud to be associated with it. Let me salute Dr. Michael Ruhling, professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.
He was the one who first felt the crying need for a journal having Haydn as its central focus. Ruhling’s hard work, over many years, is what made Haydn, the online journal of the Society, possible.
What is our greatest challenge?
Having the musicological community more widely aware of the Society and its journal. So I’d like to use this interview to encourage more scholars to submit their essays. The editors are always happy to publish solid and adventurous work.
The URL to the Society is:
The URL to the journal is:
There is something I now realize I should have mentioned as I answered your first question. Some people reading this interview might wonder, «Haven’t I heard of Aesthetic Realism» before, but wasn’t it from a very different perspective? The answer may very well be, Yes. Eli Siegel founded Aesthetic Realism in 1942, and for decades he alone used that philosophic terminology. It was very clear to the academic, cultural, educational world that the phrase stood for his thought. In recent years, however, a number of writers have begun using these words in a very different manner: to headline their own academic work. Their aesthetic and intellectual premises, however, are entirely different. To be blunt: this appropriation of the words Aesthetic Realism, in my opinion, is scholarly theft, and it has made for unnecessary confusion.
I published a short piece on this matter in the October, 2005 issue of the British Journal of Aesthetics: A Note on Two Conceptions of Aesthetic Realism.
I wish I could say that the situation has changed, but unfortunately that is not the case. Over the nearly 75 years since Eli Siegel began teaching his grand and revolutionary philosophy, people have felt the power, truth, and value of his ideas. Another aspect of the theft of Aesthetic Realism is this: rather than acknowledge the source, various people used these ideas as if they were their own. This use without acknowledgement greatly accelerated after the publication in 1955 of Eli Siegel’s Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Were this a different kind of interview, I could give many examples. It is very shameful. That it has also happened in the field of Musicology, I particularly abhor.
3. Now, let’s turn to Mozart as a Teacher of Composition. It is a subject full of mystery, yet one which has engaged people since the 18th century. What can such a genius teach to others? And how? Your own writings on this matter are very original. How would you summarize your conclusions as to his pedagogical methods, especially in composition?
I’m glad you asked me just to summarize, because the richness of this matter could easily make for hours of discussion.
Essentially, I believe that a close investigation of the Ployer and Attwood notebooks prove that Mozart taught chromatic completion to these students. Consciously taught them. I also show in my dissertation that not only are the portions of the Requiem Mozart himself composed based on this technique, but likewise the parts Süssmayr worked on after Mozart’s death. I see no way to account for this other than to say that Mozart explained the technique to Süssmayr.
We can also see the presence of chromatic completion years later, sometimes decades later, in Attwood’s music and Süssmayr’s.
For example, Attwood’s The Prisoner – a musical romance which premiered at the Haymarket Theatre in 1792. Or his Verse Anthem Teach Me, O Lord from 1797. Another example, from 1814, would be his O God, Who By The Leading Of A Star a Collect for Epiphany.
For Süssmayr, I’ll give just one example: his 1792 Ave verum corpus. Interestingly, it illustrates the technique in a way that differs from Mozart’s own celebrated 1791 setting.
Süssmayr, Ave verum corpus
Live 2003, Coro e Orch. Wiener Hofmusikkapelle, Muti
By means of chromatic completion, emphasis is brought to different words, and this may point to a difference of feeling in the two composers: a different perspective about life, the world, and God.
Looking at the Attwood notebooks (see the NMA complete edition: Mozart/Attwood Notebooks): it is striking how Mozart wanted his student to be aware of the full world of chromaticism as rapidly as possible.
There are two introductory pages of scale studies – straight-forward and rather dry. But then Mozart plunges immediately into the subject of chromatic harmony. On the very first page of the exercises in harmonization which he presents to Attwood, there are three short progressions. The first requires only a single accidental. The second uses three. The final example makes use of all twelve tones. From then on, nearly every exercise makes use of all twelve tones. Many – not all – are clear examples of chromatic completion.
Interestingly enough, it is only after many pages of chromatic harmony that Mozart turns to diatonicism. This pedagogical order – chromatic first, then diatonic – is the reverse of what one would expect. The diatonic portion of the notebook is also the section where Mozart teaches Attwood species counterpoint.
Outside the writings of Vogler, nowhere else among Mozart’s contemporaries do we see a teacher of composition placing such an emphasis upon chromaticism. Even so, Mozart is unique: he teaches chromatic completion, which is something that can’t be found in Vogler.
To relish chromaticism is one thing; Vogler had that relish, and he encouraged others to have it through his writings. But it is quite another thing to give to this world of rich and subtle tonal diversity, a clear structural design.
That is what chromatic completion does: the unfolding of the 12 tones is felt as a single arc of sound. Its point of completion matters, emotionally and dramatically. There is, in effect, a trajectory towards it. And without going into detail, let me add that chromatic completion is not only evident in the Ployer notebooks, it is also prominently employed by Mozart in the piano concerti he wrote for her.
4. Since you mentioned G.J. Vogler, you are one of the very few scholars who has systematically studied the theories concerning chromaticism of that most mysterious Abbé, and how these theories affected the work of Mozart, and through Mozart, Haydn. What did you discover?
Well, I spent over fifty pages on this matter in my dissertation. It was, in fact, the concluding chapter. I hope people who want a detailed answer to your question will look there. Meanwhile, I’ll try to say something useful here.
Vogler was the first theorist to posit the independent reality of the chromatic scale; even to suggest its primacy. Before him, it was seen simply as a set of inflections to an underlying diatonic scale.
Paula Tedesco writes valuably about all this in her essay Forward-Looking Retrospection: Enharmonicism in the Classical Era, in vol. 19 of The Journal of Musicology.
It wasn’t so much Vogler’s compositions which inspired Mozart, because, as is well-known, he spoke in a very slighting way about Vogler’s creative gifts. So slighting that Leopold Mozart chastised his son, saying there was much Wolfgang could learn from Vogler. The fact that Vogler would later become the teacher of both von Weber and Meyerbeer supports Leopold.
Even so, the encounter Mozart had with Vogler in Mannheim in the winter of 1777-1778 was a turning point in his musical life. In those weeks, and the months immediately following, Mozart tried to come to grips, in a creative manner, with Vogler’s theories.
He began to write composition after composition in which chromatic completion was present. This was not true before the Mannheim experience. Nor would Mozart, having once added the technique to his compositional palette, ever forsake it.
Haydn’s path was different. While Mozart was ablaze in the late 1770s and early 1780s with the systematic use of aggregate completion, Haydn in those years appears to have shown only intermittent interest in the technique.
Then, suddenly, it’s very different, and chromatic completion becomes a constant, central feature of his music.
When did that happen?
In the years of his close friendship with Mozart: the mid and late 1780s. The implication is that Mozart’s enthusiasm for chromatic completion helped to spur Haydn’s.
This, of course, is speculation – informed speculation, I trust, but speculation, still.
There’s no direct documentation to support it, other than the scores of these two great composers, and the chronological hints they offer. Yet since we have strong evidence that Mozart taught the technique to his students, it is more than likely he also spoke to Haydn about it at that time.
5. Switching perspectives: We know that many jazz musicians have been magnetically attracted by the music of J.S.Bach, and also by other great classical masters of Europe, including Mozart. Thanks to your long experience as a teacher not only of the European classics, but also of jazz – and, in particular, your well-known studies in the music of Duke Ellington – can you tell us what, in your view, are the profoundest links between the classical music of Europe and jazz? Where and how, for example, do Haydn and Mozart relate to Ellington? And since you are also a concert composer, can you tell us how you feel, in your own creative work, you’ve been indebted, and grateful, to Haydn and Mozart?
The deepest relation between European classical music and jazz is the one I pointed to earlier: as we listen to instances of music from around the world – from many centuries and from divergent cultures – no matter how different these musical examples sound one from the other, they all arise from the same inevitable and beautiful impulsion: to put opposites together.
There are many opposites I could talk about, but let’s start with freedom and order.
A large reason people love jazz has to do with this. In jazz, there’s often a solid groove simultaneous with the unexpected twists and turns of inspired improvisation. Do we also experience order and freedom, stability and surprise, in the best examples of music from the Classical Era? We sure do!
The technique is different, but the emotional impact is akin.
And since you asked about Bach, I’ve often used his Passacaglia in C minor as a way of showing jazz majors how close his way of creating variations over a repeating bass is to certain effects in the music of Miles Davis. But that’s just one example; there is so much in Bach that is near to jazz – including the unprepared use of flattened 7th blues tones, as, for example, in Bourrée II of the A minor English Suite.
Another strong connection between jazz and the music of the Classical Era is that they each deal, in their own way, with the world as rough and smooth. We hear these opposites in the timbres of jazz as well as in its blues-drenched harmony.
Haydn doesn’t use harmon-muted trumpets; Mozart doesn’t write 12-bar blues – (though he does have a liking for dissonant cross-relations).
But who can hear the 104th Symphony of Haydn, or the 40th of Mozart, without having a thrilling, satisfying, surprising, and beautiful experience of roughness and smoothness?
You asked about Ellington. Thank you! I see him as America’s greatest composer.
As I say in my Editor’s Introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington:
«a good case can be made that, all in all, Ellington… was the most influential composer of the twentieth century… for jazz, with its various stylistic offspring, has had more impact worldwide than any other form of modern music. And Ellington is acknowledged almost universally as the greatest of all jazz composers».
I’d like to quote a bit more, if I may. Under the heading Ellington and the Opposites I wrote:
«In Ellington’s masterpieces – compositions such as The Mooche, Harlem Air Shaft, East St. Louis Toodle-O, Jack the Bear, and Concerto for Cootie – we meet vibrant energy and deep thoughtfulness, passion, and control. Again and again, his music swings with intensity, yet also with natural ease. Just think, for example, of Cotton Tail. Opposites are convincingly, beautifully together… joined in a way we hope they can be in our own lives.
There are, in Ellington’s finest works, a true composition of roughness and velvet smoothness; a sense of the orderliness of the world and its confusion. Sounds are heavy, yet also winsome in their lightness. Sounds are wide, but also edgy; painfully thrusting, yet also lovely, suffusing, tender. There is surprise after sonic surprise; at the same time, there is the beat and an unshakable continuity of musical design. We hear poise, elegance, sophistication; we are also in the presence of a sincere, primitive wildness that comes straight from the gut.
It is honest, stirring music. Duke Ellington, by putting opposites together, gives us the opportunity to have emotions about the world and the human self that are grand and logical and beautiful. I love him for it.»
If you care for Mozart, Haydn, or any other composer of the Classical Era, you can ask: do I love them for similar reasons?
I think the answer will be, Yes!
In terms of more narrowly defined technical links between jazz and European classical music, let me mention one which I think has gone under-appreciated. It has to do with motivic development, which everyone knows is a central thing in Haydn and Mozart, and also with Schönberg’s concept of Grundgestalt. What is not often realized is how central these principles are in jazz; certainly in Duke Ellington.
In 2008, I published an essay in Jazz Perspectives with the purposefully humorous title: It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Grundgestalt! – Ellington from a Motivic Perspective.
Among other things, I show how closely Ellington’s approach to jazz composition parallels Beethoven’s way of writing music – including in the Fifth Symphony. The essay is on my website: www.edgreenmusic.org/Articles/Ellington_Essay.pdf
You also asked about the impact of Haydn and Mozart on my work as a composer. I’ve learned so much from them, I couldn’t possibly say it all. I’ll just point to some major things.
From Haydn, I learned how joyous, humorous, light-hearted, music can be while still maintaining complete seriousness. There’s a wonderful relation in his music of weight and lightness, substance and grace. I suppose the two clearest examples in my own of the Haydnesque would be the finales to my Trumpet Concerto, and Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings. You can hear these concerti, if you like, at:
• www.edgreenmusic.org/1-compositions-orchestra.htm (Trumpet Concerto)
Listen to Edward Green:
Concerto in C for Trumpet and Orchestra – Finale
• www.edgreenmusic.org/1-compositions-orchestra.htm (Alto Saxophone Concerto)
Listen to Edward Green:
Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings – Finale
From Mozart, I’ve been awed by how simple, clear, straight-forward he is, and yet how subtle. One aspect of this, which has affected me greatly, is his way with rhythm. I can’t think, in fact, of a composer whose underlying rhythmic structures are at once so syncopated and subtle, yet balanced, coherent, and graceful. I’m including Stravinsky when I say this.
Consider his Piano Sonata, K.311. It opens with a seven-bar phrase: 3 + 4. We don’t notice that irregularity at first because the first sub-phrase dovetails with the next in measure 4. As a result, we get a conclusion and a beginning at once. Similar things happen throughout the sonata. Similar things happen everywhere in Mozart.
Another delightful instance of symmetry and asymmetry can be heard in the coda of his Rondo alla Turca. There are 6-bar and 7-bar phrases; some with and some without dove-tailing. Children love this music. I know I did; I remember loving it when I was 10-years old, maybe earlier. Everyone wants to feel secure and yet be delightfully taken by surprise. This music meets those desires.
Another astonishing example of Mozart’s superb way with rhythm is in the Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor. Its opening phrase is 6 measures long. In terms of dynamics, it is divided neatly in half: three bars forte, and then three bars piano. Yet in terms of motivic structure, the same 6 measures are divided not in two parts, but in three: there are three 2-bar phrases. The design is A, B, B’. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any other composer do just this.
One place where my Mozartean education is easy to hear is the Gigue to Music for Shakespeare, an orchestral suite you can find on the same URL I gave earlier for the concerti. The Gigue is in 11/8 – so while it’s meant to evoke that older style of dance music, it’s clearly modern at the same time. Of course, old and new are opposites everyone is always trying to make sense of: the past and the present.
• www.edgreenmusic.org/1-compositions-orchestra.htm (Music for Shakespeare)
Listen to Edward Green: Gigue to Music for Shakespeare
But the big thing, in terms of Mozartean impact, is that as the Gigue goes on, the grouping of beats constantly shifts. The Gigue starts with a one-measure phrase organized 2+3+3+3 = 11. The next measure is similarly organized. But the third phrase spills beyond the limits of measure three. That phrase is 2+3+3+3+ 2; adding up to 13 beats. As a result, the fourth phrase is just 9 beats: 3+3+3. In keeping with the opposites, this last phrase is the shortest of all, but it also ends with a fermata – so it’s likewise the longest.
Well, it takes longer to describe all this than actually to hear it! And, I hope, enjoy it.
A hard question, because there are so many works I love with all my heart. I can only tell you what first comes to my mind.
For Mozart, it’s the 41st Symphony. It brings together two very different ways – in fact two very contradictory ways – people can be. I see those ways in myself, and often, to be honest, they don’t blend as well as I would like. But in the Jupiter Symphony, they make a one.
Here’s what I mean. The first two measures of the symphony are thrusting, powerful, drum-like. Sudden silences sharply separate musical figures from each other. We seem to be hearing a self which is assertive, decisive, fiercely confident. A self, even, in a military mode – what with that evocation of drums. The dynamic is forte, and the entire orchestra plays in octaves, asserting the tonic again and again.
I’ve got this in me: this assertiveness; this desire to be decisive. Everyone does in his or her own way.
Then, how utterly different the next two measures are! They are quiet. We hear only the strings; moreover, the heaviest of the strings – the contrabass – is absent. Unlike what came before, there are no sharply etched silences here; the music is entirely legato. And in contrast to the open octaves, now we hear rich harmony, softening the atmosphere. The melody in the first violins sighs sweetly in a rising series of appoggiaturas. And this second two-bar phrase ends not on the solid tonic, but on a yearning first inversion dominant seventh chord. A beautiful question seems to hangs in mid-air.
What a contrast!
And in the hands of a lesser composer, what a chance for incoherence. It’s the kind of thing, in fact, Mozart made fun of in Ein musikalischer Spass: music which has all kinds of contrasts, but no real coherence.
The wonderful thing about the opening of the Jupiter Symphony is that both from a technical and an ethical point-of-view Mozart sees the relation between these two ever-so-different ways of mind. The forceful self and the tender, gentle self, the decisive self and the yearning, questioning self, are working as one.
How does Mozart do this? Through an implied beat which we hear all the way through these four measures. It is made up of a dotted quarter followed by an eighth. Drum that pattern out as you listen; the dotted rhythm connects everything. We feel through this background rhythm that as contradictory as these states of mind are, they belong together and help each other.
«Every person,» Eli Siegel once said, «is always trying to put together opposites in himself.» Mozart illustrates this – and how beautifully!
For Haydn, let me say that the aria Mit Würd und Hoheit angetan from Die Schöpfung has been a favorite of mine for decades. I first met it when my High School Chorus in Jericho, Long Island did selections from the oratorio. The aria celebrates marriage as the completion of one self by another self.
It begins in a very masculine manner as the archangel Uriel (who is singing) describes Adam. The rhythms are sharp, and the music, over-all, is forceful. Then, as Uriel tells of the arrival of Eve, the aria shifts to a more feminine mode: more flowing, sweet, graceful. The contrast couldn’t be clearer, yet it’s all one continuous melody, and the progression seems natural and inevitable. We feel Adam is completed by Eve – a musical expression of the success of love.
Aesthetic Realism defines love as Proud Need; we hear that in Haydn’s music.
I’m very grateful, too, to say that my own happy marriage was made possible through studying Aesthetic Realism and this great definition of love. I am proud to need my wife, Carrie Wilson – glad that she represents the world different from me. Through her encouragement and criticism, I see the world, music, and people better. Carrie is a consultant to women on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, and the instructor of the course The Opposites in Singing: Technique and Feeling. She is also an important critic of the visual arts, and a fine actor and singer.
7. Is there a neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated? And – whether by this composer or another – is there a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency?
I’d start with Joseph Martin Kraus. He’s 1756 to 1792, almost an exact contemporary to Mozart. His symphonies, in particular, are important. I’d like to thank Dr. Bertil van Boer for first drawing my attention to this fine, almost entirely forgotten composer (B. van Boer at Academia).
Going a bit into the early 19th century, I’d point to Anton Reicha‘s cantata Lenore. It’s hardly ever performed, yet has real emotional and dramatic power. Given Reicha’s teenage friendship with Beethoven in Bonn, and also their relations with Haydn in Vienna, it would be easy to imagine that this 1806 work uses the same text as Beethoven’s 1805 opera carrying the same name. But no: Reicha’s text is the 1773 Sturm-und-Drang ballad of Gottfried August Bürger.
Reicha published, just on the edge of the 18th century (1800) an extraordinary set of Twelve Fugues. Nothing more radical ever happened to fugal form. There are experiments here which seem positively 20th century: a polytonal fugue; a fugue in 5/8. Yet the wonderful thing is not, per se, the astonishing experimentation; it is that these fugues are good, musically. As we know from a good deal of 20th and 21st century contemporary music, there are lots of musical experiments about which that can’t be said. Daring experiments, but dull music.
So along with Kraus, I feel strongly that Reicha is a person who demands to be better known. Not just as a composer; also as arguably the most successful teacher of composition ever. Among his students were Berlioz, Gounod, Liszt (to a degree), and then also Adolph Adam and Caesar Frank. Wow!
Finally, a word in support of Rousseau as composer. He’s better than many people have realized. I wrote about that in a piece for Vol. 16 (Winter, 2007) of Ars Lyrica: Reconsidering Rousseau’s Le devin du village—an Opera of Surprising and Valuable Paradox.
As for his impact on musicology, which was considerable, there’s his pioneering work to have Europeans respect music from other continents. I wrote about that in an essay included in Music’s Intellectual History, a 2009 volume of the RILM Perspectives Series, titled The Impact of Rousseau on the Music Histories of Burney and Hawkins.
Here, I have to be very selective, since there are dozens of excellent books on the Classical Era. I have always admired Donald Francis Tovey’s essays on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Charles Rosen’s books… The Classical Style and also Sonata Forms – I have learned from deeply. That is true likewise for Leonard Ratner’s Classic Music, as well as his book on the Beethoven String Quartets. Kerman’s book on the quartets is also excellent. I care very much, too, for Julian Rushton‘s fictionalized, but lovingly rendered portrait, Coffee with Mozart (J.Rushton at Academia).
Wye Allanbrook’s Rhythmic Gesture in Mozart made everyone take fresh notice of the importance of dance rhythms. Robert Hatten‘s books (R.Hatten at Academia) are very valuable in understanding the hermeneutics of the period, as is Robert Gjerdingen‘s A Classic Turn of Phrase (now available also at Gjerdingen’s Academia Site: e-book A Classic Turn of Phrase). Of course, to study Haydn is also to read H.C. Robbins Landon. His books are still the foundation for Haydn research.
Another work I love – though this brings us more into the early 19th century – is Rudolph Reti’s Thematic Patterns in Sonatas of Beethoven. You asked earlier about the relation of jazz and the music of European classicism; Reti’s book provides a solid methodology relating composition and improvisation, seeing them as aspects of a single creative drive. This makes it invaluable to anyone who is interested in seeing the common thread between these two very different kinds of music. Reti’s book, as you likely know, bases itself on Schönberg’s idea of the Grundgestalt… and I’ve already indicated how important I think that concept is.
I’m sure I should be mentioning other people. That I haven’t is not, in any way, meant as a slight. There just isn’t time. And – of course – it’s crucial that scholars dig into the theoretical texts of the time by Koch, Riepel, Vogler, and others.
The single writing which has most deeply affected how I see the Classical Era is Martha Baird’s essay Some Opposites in Mozart, Con Amore. In it, among other things, she shows how important it was to Mozart – as a man as well as composer – to make a one of anger and sweetness, force and tenderness. She illustrates this through his Symphony #32, Belmonte’s O, wie ängstlich and Osmin’s Solche hergelaufne Laffen. She also writes in that essay about the Fifth Violin Concerto – the Concerto that has the famous Turkish interruption of its Tempo di Menuetto finale.
I spoke earlier about the fierceness and tenderness, the assertiveness and sweetness of the Jupiter Symphony. I’m sure it was the impact of Martha Baird’s essay that made it possible for me to see something of what Mozart accomplished there, and its deep human significance – including personally for myself.
Martha Baird was the wife of Eli Siegel, and a scholar with original insight on many aspects of music. I love, for example, her papers on Verdi’s Aida, and on the perennial philosophic question of the relation of Absolute and Programmatic music. This was titled What Is Music About? During the years I studied with Eli Siegel, I likewise studied with her, and I cherish it. Never did a critic write about music with such a combination of ease, naturalness, and solid intellectual rigor.
After my enthusiastic listing of many authors whose work I value as to the Classical Era, I don’t want to seem ungenerous and chary as I answer this question. But, largely, I’ve been disappointed in the movies and documentaries I’ve seen.
Two which I’ve felt were useful as introductions to Beethoven when I taught non-music-majors were the BBC biography of the composer, and also Michael Tilson Thomas’ engaging film on the Eroica – though, at times, it is a bit idiosyncratic.
I would love to see a full-length film on the life of Haydn, or Mozart, or Beethoven that does them justice – as men and as artists. To my knowledge, none have yet appeared.
Certainly, as cities, Vienna and Paris are the most important. When it comes to libraries, I’d have to say the great Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. But speaking personally, nothing did more to sharpen my sense of the 18th century as a whole and its music than visiting Versailles and Schönbrunn.
There’s such splendor there, but then you realize the horrific cost of that splendor – the evil of aristocracy which made it possible. All that wealth for the benefit of a very small group of people: wealth gotten by grinding millions of others in awful poverty!
Walking through those palaces, I had a vivid, gut-grabbing sense of why the 18th century led inevitably to the French Revolution.
If we want to have the Classical Era truly in our minds, nothing is more important than understanding the forces – intellectual, political, economic, and ethical – which led to the great event of 1789.
Thank you for these questions. It was a pleasure to try to answer them.
Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
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