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|Complete Works for Double Bass
The Works for Double Bass
by Dittersdorf were written in 1760s
for the Double Bass virtuoso
Pichelberger. Such works
are well known for being technically
demanding (with the viola part
penned by Dittersdorf for himself).
The two concertos were used
by Haydn’s bassist Sperger
at the Esterházy Orchestra
and mainly survived for this reason.
Dittersdorf was on friendly
Leon Bosch & Robert Smissen
Who is Padre Martini?
Padre Martini or… the Dictator of Music, the Padre di tutti i Maestri or the Father of Music, as many musicians called him in the 18th century.
While many may have a general idea of the importance and of the great influence exerted by the Music School of Naples in the 18th century, few have a right perception of the far greater importance of the Music School of Bologna… greater importance, because most of the greatest composers of the 18th century studied music composition in Bologna and created and cultivated professional connections with the masters in Bologna and with one master of composition, in particular: Padre Martini. Sometimes still remembered as the teacher of Mozart, Padre Martini was considered, in reality, the greatest music authority in Europe and among his pupils there are the children of J.S.Bach and from his teaching tradition famous international composers such as Cherubini and Rossini spread the light of music throughout Europe, the World and the centuries.
Bologna: the factory of musical geniuses of the 18th & the 19th century from Mozart to Rossini, Donizetti and Respighi
Once upon a time there was a factory of musical geniuses and that was the city of Bologna, where many great composers received their music instruction in composition at the highest levels.
Among them, Mozart himself, J.C. Bach, Jommelli, Myslivecek, Sarti (then teacher of the great Cherubini), Vogler (then fundamental music theorist and teacher of von Weber and Meyerbeer) up to Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti (both pupils of Stanislao Mattei, the devote pupil, official successor and close friend of Padre Martini) and Ottorino Respighi.
The Martinians: more than 100 pupils for Padre Martini
Padre Martini was considered the most important teacher in music composition in Europe, a learned music historian and musicologist (who had studied almost all the treatises by Guido d’Arezzo) and the greatest master in the art of the counterpoint.
For these reasons Padre Martini was particularly sought after as a teacher of music composition and regarded somehow as the teacher of the teachers in music.
Padre Martini had ca. more than 100 pupils from almost any country of Europe and among them some of the most famous composers and music teachers and theorists in the history of music:
• W.A. Mozart (1756-1791)
• S. Mattei (1750-1825 Italian; official successor of Padre Martini and teacher of G. Rossini and G. Donizetti)
• J.C. Bach (1735-1782 German based in London, England; son of J.S. Bach, teacher and model of Mozart)
• J. Myslivecek (1737-1781 Bohemian; teacher, mentor and model of Mozart)
• G.J. Vogler (1749-1819 German; a rebel pupil of Padre Martini, important music theorist, teacher and mentor of von Weber and Meyerbeer; and through Meyerbeer Vogler’s teachings reached, in part, Wagner)
• N. Jommelli (1714-1771 Italian; one the most famous and most gifted pupils of Padre Martini, but with some criticism on Padre Martini’s very strict treatment of polyphonic music; Mozart and his father Leopold met him in 1763; Jommelli exerted a great influence on Stamitz, Wagenseil and von Dittersdorf)
• G. Sarti (1729-1802 Italian; friend of Mozart and teacher of the greatL. Cherubini, who managed to solve all the extra-difficult enigma canons composed by Padre Martini)
• A.E.M. Grétry (1741-1813 Belgian)
• M. Berezovsky (1745-1777 Ukrainian)
• G.B. Cirri (1724-1808 Italian; famous cellist, he played cello during the same concerts given by 8-year-old Mozart in London)
• G.M.G. Cambini (1746?-1825? Italian; probably pupil of Padre Martini, in Florence founded a quartet with Boccherini in 1767 and in Paris worked with Gossec and had a not happy encounter with Mozart in 1778)
• F.L. Gassmann (1729-1774 Bohemian; then friend and close collaborator of Gluck and teacher and mentor of A. Salieri)
• V. Righini (1756-1812 Italian; collaborator of Salieri at Vienna Court since 1780, he followed then the path of the strict Gluckian, so to say, nakedstyle like Salieri instead of that enriched by the art of counterpoint; in 1786 helped Salieri, while Salieri was in Paris; Da Ponte and Mozart disliked Righini and for Mozart he was fairly good at writing music, but he was a «great thief» and incapable of well hiding what stolen)
Among the friends, correspondents and admirers of Padre Martini we find the composers Gluck (who was, instead, pupil of G.B. Sammartini in Milan and whose works, beside their long lasting friendship, were not always fully appreciated by Padre Martini and his collaborators), von Dittersdorf,Hasse and the violin virtuoso Lolli.
According to someone, after 1776, also the composer Martín y Soler(1754-1806 Spanish) studied composition with Padre Martini. However, such assertion must be considered rather speculation and not fact, since this period spent in Bologna, studying with Padre Martini, is not clearly demonstrated (see Waisman, Madrid 2007).
Mozart, during his life, maintained, in most cases, an open and friendly behaviour towards all the direct and orthodox pupils of Padre Martini. For this reason, he cultivated, when possible, the friendship of composers such as J.C. Bach, Myslivecek and Sarti (he celebrated, by quoting his opera in his Don Giovanni).
Gluck, Dittersdorf & Padre Martini
On April-May 1763 von Dittersdorf and Gluck reached Bologna for the premiere of Gluck’s Il Trionfo di Clelia for the inauguration of the new opera theatre of Bologna.
On this occasion, Gluck and von Dittersdorf made the acquaintance of both Farinelli and Padre Martini. von Dittersdorf (being a great virtuoso violinist) had the possibility of playing in some public performances in Bologna and, at the same time, of attending, with Gluck, the marvelous performance of some polyphonic music written by Padre Martini. The famous lively account of von Dittersdorf, left in his autobiography, gives an idea of the sincere admiration that both Gluck and von Dittersdorf cultivated towards the art of Padre Martini and this became the basis for a personal friendship.
Here the beautiful account by von Dittersdorf with a lively portrait of old master (Bologna, May 1763):
«Another of our visits was to Padre Martino, the world-renowned dictator of classical music. Ha was nearly as old as Farinelli, and they were bosom friends. Gluck, too, had known him for years, and never passed through Bologna without paying his respects to the “Padre di tutti i Maestri”, as all Kapellmeisters call him to this day.
[…] We were just setting out for the coffee-house, on the afternoon of that very day, when Padre Martino paid us his return visit. He seized the opportunity of asking me to play a concerto in his church, at a great function which was impending. Of course I was to be paid for it… would I be content with the ordinary fee of twelve double ducats? I said I would only play on condition that I was not paid. What I prized, beyond money, was the honour of being selected to play by“the Father of Music”. The good old man thanked me for my“pretty way of thinking of him”, as he called it, and after another half-hour’s conversation, he went away as he came, leaning on the arm of a lay brother, and supported by a stick.
It was soon the talk of all Bologna, that I had been invited by Padre Martino to assist at the grand ceremony, on the first day of the festival “per la visita della Madonna di San Lucca”, and everyone knew that I had refused to be paid, and had promised my services solely for the honour of God.
The day approached for the opening of the festival, which was to be inaugurated by the procession of the miracle-working portrait of the Madonna, said to have been painted by St. Luke. The fête lasted for three days. We went to church to hear Vespers,… the music by Padre Martino. What a gulf between that and Mazzoni’s work! I have never heard sacred music so majestic, so lofty, and so touching!Even Caldara’s composition is far inferior to it. In one Psalm… I think a Magnificat… the Amen was an eight-part fugue, a marvel of artistic elaboration. The effect made by that glorious fugue may be imagined, for the band consisted of one hundred and sixty people, and the chorus was eighty strong.
On the following morning, Gluck and I called on the venerable musician, who had asked us to drink chocolate with him. We were full of admiration for his fine music, i.e., the Vespers which we had heard.
“I think it probable,” said he, “that yesterday’s Vespers and to-day’s High Mass will be my Swan Song, for I am conscious already that my powers, physical and mental, are beginning to fail.”
We expressed our regret that we might, perhaps, never have another opportunity of hearing the eight-part fugue.
“I’ll set that right,” answered the kindly old man. “I will make the fugue do duty for the Amen in the Credo; they are both in the same key, and so far your wishes shall be gratified.”
I did my very best with my concerto, which I played very successfully in the Garduale, for I had carefully prepared myself for it a week before. Soon after I had finished my concerto, I went with Gluck into the body of the church, to hear the Credo and the Amen at a distance. That day, we discovered all sorts of beauties in the eight-part fugue, which had escaped us the day before. We returned home in a high state of exaltation, and sat down to dinner. Afterwards, our landlord came in, bringing with him a good-sized paper parcel with a seal on it, and said:
“Padre Martino sends you both a few pounds of chocolate.”
He had written on the packet with a very shaky pen: “12 libre per il mio caro amico, il Cavagliere Gluck, e 12 libre per il mio caro figliuolo, il Signor Carlo Ditters.”»
1770: Mozart meets Padre Martini
In 1770 Mozart and his father Leopold meet Padre Martini in Bologna.
Thanks to a long stay in Bologna in the summer 1770, Mozart could study music and composition with Padre Martini and with Myslivecek and on 9 October 1770 Mozart passed the examination at the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna and officially became Magister Compositor Accademico Filarmonico di Bologna.
Mozart & Bologna: cover-up or not cover.up?
Since in the archive of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, there are different copies of the exercise that Mozart had to solve, one in the handwriting of Padre Martini and one in the handwriting of Mozart, there were some speculations by various scholars that Padre Martini covered up the mistakes written by Mozart during the examination.
Nonetheless, since Mozart, just 14 years old, passed the examination at the Accademia of Bologna with a «considering the circumstances, sufficient» degree (that’s to say what appears to be a «C-»), other scholars, in conclusion, just think that there was not any kind of cover-up by Padre Martini. The 2 different exercises, in fact, were simply due to the fact that, after the judgement of «sufficient», Padre Martini just solved the composition and showed how a correct exercise had to be written to obtain a judgement «full marks» and then obliged Mozart to rewrite the new correct exercise written by him.
Anyhow, this point is still very controversial, because we don’t know exactly which final version was given to the judges: Mozart’s own one or the copy of Martini’s work?…
This piece is Quaerite primum regnum Dei K. 86.
Here a bizarre video highlighting the mistakes of Mozart and then featuring the correct work by Martini.
Padre Martini vs. Padre Vallotti? Vogler’s own revolution
Thanks to the studies of F.K. Grave and M.G. Grave, we have some important details on how also the composer G.J. Vogler spent some time in Bologna, studying composition with Padre Martini.
However, Vogler was dissatisfied with Padre Martini’s approach to music composition, strictly linked to Fux and without any interest in research. So Vogler decided to move to Padua and to study composition and musical theory with Padre Vallotti (more revolutionary and inquisitive in his studies than Padre Martini), becoming thus somehow his successor.
De facto, we know that Padre Martini did not appreciate either Tartini (the long time collaborator of Padre Vallotti) or Rameau, considering Rameau’s theory «probably» good for the theatre music and all that music that is not Sacred Music, but not good for the Sacred Music. Moreover, Padre Martini considered Rameau’s theory, in general, a form of «destructive music method».
This transition of Vogler from Padre Martini (Bologna) to Padre Vallotti (Padua), well documented also through some letters written by Mozart, then proved to be particular crucial for the difficult steps of the career of Mozart in Mannheim in 1777 and 1778.
Despite what happened with Vogler, it seems that Padre Martini and Padre Vallotti admired each other and, when Padre Vallotti died, Padre Martini became the musical heir of Padre Vallotti.
Mozart, Padre Martini & the Mannheim Affair (1777-1778)
It is well known, how Mozart, in 1777 and 1778, tried to build a solid musical career in Mannheim, but had to face a strong position held by Vogler there and other difficulties. Despite the enthusiasm and interest of Leopold for the theoretical work of Vogler, Mozart never managed to find a path of dialogue and collaboration with Vogler and one of the reasons for this (according to Mozart’s letters) was the atmosphere of criticism and reciprocal accusation existing between Vogler and Padre Martini.
Despite the presence of Vogler in Mannheim, Mozart and Leopold tried to have the support and the recommendations of Padre Martini for the Court of Mannheim, but the whole scheme miserably failed, even though Padre Martini wrote many letters to the opera singer Raaff, as a possible supporter of Mozart at the Court of Mannheim.
After some time, in what seems to appear a sort of intrigue of some kind, Mozart will discover that all the letters written and sent by Padre Martini from Bologna to Raaff and to the Court the Mannheim just disappeared somehow and somewhere and just never reached their intended destination.
Moreover, it is fact that Padre Martini, in Bologna, in the years 1777 and 1778 was in a very difficult situation in his own town and didn’t have that particular musical and professional prestige he had in 1770 any more, due to a series of serious quarrels with the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna, which led him, in the end, to an official act of resignation from the Accademia (29 December 1781).
So the Mannheim scheme of Mozart in the autumn 1777 began under bad auspices and his most revered master and teacher, Padre Martini, who was himself in troubles in his own town, de facto, could not do anything to support his pupil and his steps of career in Mannheim and to avoid all the intrigues behind the possibility of a solid position at the German Court.
K. 222: Padre Martini praises Mozart’s sacred music
On Sunday 5 March 1775 a particular sacred music work by Mozart was performed at the Munich Court Chapel. It’s the K. 222 Offertorium de tempore “Misericordias Domini”.
On 4 September 1776 Mozart sent this motet to Padre Martini at Bologna. Padre Martini praised the work by Mozart highly and asked Mozart to receive a painted portrait of Mozart: the importance of this request is due to the fact that Padre Martini, as historian of music, had the habit of collecting the portraits of the people he considered great and important.
Here the original letter sent by Padre Martini to Mozart from Bologna on 18 December 1776 with a technical judgement of Mozart’s work.
«Together with your most kind letter, which reached me by way of Trent, I received the Motet… It was with pleasure that I studied it from beginning to end, and I can tell you in all sincerity that I was singularly pleased with it, finding in it all that is required by Modern Music: good harmony, mature modulation, a moderate pace in the violins, a natural connexion of the parts and good taste. I am delighted with it and rejoice that since I had the pleasure of hearing you at Bologna on the harpsichord you have made great stride in composition, which must be pursued ever more by practice, for Music is of such nature as to call for great exercise and study as long as one lives.»
This piece by Mozart is famous also for featuring a few sections of a choral melody similar to the one used by Beethoven for his 9th Symphony. Nonetheless, it is sure that Beethoven for his symphony was influenced also by other works which featured music elements similar to that used by Mozart (see Cannabich and others).
Padre Martini and a portrait of Mozart
Only on 22 December 1777 Leopold managed to have a painted portrait of Wolfgang ready to be sent to Padre Martini at Bologna.
It is still one of the best portrait of Wolfgang we have today, a work of a Salzburg painter.
The original portrait of Mozart (1777) for Padre Martini is today in theMuseo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna.
The legacy of Padre Martini
The legacy of Padre Martini was already important in the 18th century, since his teachings were widely spread by his favourite pupil Stanislao Mattei at Bologna, who became the teacher of composition of another two among the greatest composers in history: G. Rossini and G. Donizetti.
Moreover, Padre Martini, beside the famous portraits, left to Bologna an amazing library with very important and extremely rare books on music history, music theory and thousands of music scores. Already Burney in 1770s had the possibility to visit the library of Padre Martini, which had already more than 17.000 books and works of any kind on music. The library of Padre Martini is now at the Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna.
Recently (since 2007) the efforts of Sugar Suvini-Zerboni, Sony and the Accademia degli Astrusi has been making the works by Padre Martini available again, through new printed editions of his works and DVDs.
So far one of the best CD Albums available is the one released by L’arpa festante & l’Ensemble Cantissimo (Ars Musici):
WORKS BY PADRE MARTINI
Various works by Padre Martini are available at IMSLP:
Giovanni Battista Martini: Scores
A) Theory works, letters and other works:
• Attestati in difesa del Sig. D. Jacopo Antonio Arrighi, maestri di cappella della Cattedrale di Cremona (1746)
• Regola agli organisti per accompagnare il canto fermo (1756)
• Storia della Musica 3 voll. (1757-61, 1770, 1781)
• Onomasticum (1763)
• Dissertatio de usu progressionis geometricae in musica (1767)
• Compendio della teoria de’ numeri per uso del musico (1769)
• Esemplare ossia saggio fondamentale pratico di contrappunto sopra il canto fermo 2 voll. (1774-75)
• Lettere del Sig. Francesco Maria Zanotti, del padre G.M., min. con., del padre Giovenale Sacchi (1782)
B) Compositions by Padre Martini:
• Opera Theatre:
• Azione Teatrale (Intermezzo: 1726)
• La Dirindina (Intermezzo: 1731)
• L’impresario delle Canarie (Intermezzo: 1744)
• Il maestro di musica (Intermezzo: 1746)
• Don Chisciotte (Intermezzo: 1746)
• various pieces of music for the theatre
• L’assunzione di Salomone al trono d’Israello (1734)
• S. Pietro (1738)
• S. Pietro (1739)
• Il sagrificio d’Abramo (sketches)
• Deposizione della Croce (lost)
• Sacred Music:
• 12 Masses 4 v. with instruments
• 1 Requiem
• 2 Masses 8 v. with instruments
• 3 Masses 4 v. capp.
• 1 and 1 Missa pro defunctis with organ
• 3 Masses 8 v. capp.
• 1 Messa de’ Morti with organ
• 5 Masses Brevi 8 v. with instruments
• 7 Masses unfin. 2-3 v. capp.
• 3 Kyrie
• 2 Gloria
• 12 Credo
• 40 sections of Proprium Missae with instruments
• 101 Introitus
• 25 Graduali
• 26 Offertorium
• 32 Communiones capp.
• music for funerals and the Holy Week (54 Responsoria Hebdomadae Sanctae)
• 198 Psalms with instruments (of which 51 with double choir)
• 26 Magnificat
• 5 Nunc dimittis
• vespri, notturni, mattutini, inni, sequenze, antifone, litanie, mottetti
• 2 Te Deum
• 1 Requiem
• 9 Cantate spirituali a solo with instruments
• 1 Litaniae atque Antiphonae 4 v. cum organo et Instrum. ad lib. op. I (1734)
• Works for Orchestra:
• various symphonies
• concerto vl., ob., vcl. and strings
• 6 concertos harpsichord and strings
• concerto vl. and strings
• concerto vcl. and strings
• concerto piano and strings
• Chamber Music:
• sonatas vcl.
• sonatas 2 fl.
• sonatas vl. and 4 tr.
• various arias, cantatas and canons
• 12 Sonate d’intavolatura per l’organo e il cembalo (1742)
• 6 Sonate per l’organo e il cembalo (1747)
• Duetti da camera a diverse voci (1763)
• 52 canons 2-4 v.
|Three Missing Ovid Symphonies
Three missing Ovid Symphonies
by Dittersdorf became three 4-hands
piano sonatas. The original
orchestral score is still missing,
like the other 6 symphonies.
We have only 9 symphonies
(6 orchestra+3 4-hands piano)
out of the original 15 symphonies
Dittersdorf was on friendly
James Tibbles & Michael Tsalka
|A Viennese Quartet Party
String Quartets by
Haydn, Mozart, Vanhal & Dittersdorf.
In 1784 to celebrate Paisiello in Vienna
The Revolutionary Drawing Room
|6 Flute & Piano Sonatas
World Premiere with 6 sonatas
for flute & piano by J.B.Vanhal.
Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
The Revolutionary Drawing Room Quartet: Official Links
RDRQuartet Official Site: The Revolutionary Drawing Room
New CD Album 2016 Release (Uppernote): Revolutionary Flute Quartets
Butterfield Official Site: Adrian Butterfield
Butterfield (Royal College of Music): Adrian Butterfield (RCM)
RDRQuartet: RDRQuartet Twitter
RDRQuartet: RDRQuartet YouTube
RDRQuartet: CD A Viennese Quartet Party
RDRQuartet: CD Mozart Clarinet Quintet with C.Lawson
1. Haydn, Mozart, Dittersdorf and Vanhal: four composers with four well defined characters! How did you come up with the idea of re-uniting them together again in the same Album? How do their different characters emerge from their very music? And also how and when did you decide to choose the name The Revolutionary Drawing Room for your group, a name which truly represents the spirit of 18th century?
R. Alford (cello): The name of the group was thought of by the founding cellist of the ensemble, Angela East.
A. Butterfield (violin): It is a rather distinctive name which arouses a lot of attention! The Drawing Room part derives from the withdrawing room found in the houses of the patrons of musicians in the Georgian era in England in the 18th century, a room to which families and their guests retired after dinner. Revolutionary refers to the years spanning approximately 1789-1848 during which there were many upheavals in Europe.
The idea of our Viennese Quartet Party programme was suggested to me by an audience member who came up to me many years ago after a concert and asked if we knew about the story of these four composers playing together in Vienna in 1784.
R. Stott (viola): I have loved reading the Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, the Irish tenor who sang in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, in which he relates the Quartet Party story. He was quite a character!
A. Butterfield (violin): It’s true, these four composers were possessed of very differing temperaments.
Haydn is well known for his joy and sense of humour and that is reflected in the false ending of his quartet Op.50 No.1 which was designed to tease his audience. He was, though, also possessed of such wonderful originality in his use of musical ideas and form.
Mozart overflowed with beautiful melodies but Haydn’s Op.33 quartets inspired him to write music of great imagination and complexity and the opening of the Dissonance quartet is a particularly extraordinary example of this.
Dittersdorf wrote some interesting programmatic music and his A major quartet seems to us to have moments of story-telling too, especially the Minuet movement which feels very much like party music!
Vanhal, a pupil of Dittersdorf, comes across as a more serious character. The slow movement of his E flat major quartet is especially beautiful and close in style to Haydn.
2. You, as single performing musicians (I mean you four members of the RDR Quartet), recorded also a wonderful Series of CDs devoted to many other authors of the first and second half of the 18th century from Jean-Marie Leclair to Handel to C.P.E.Bach to Luigi Boccherini. According to your opinion, who, among those composers, really exerted a strong musical influence on the composers of the First Viennese Group, Haydn, Mozart, Dittersdorf, Vanhal etc. and then Beethoven and so on?
A. Butterfield (violin): Our individual experience of performing a vast range of baroque repertoire has had a great influence on our performance of Haydn and Mozart.
J.S. Bach’s two most famous sons, Carl Philipp Emmanuel and Johann Christian, were especially influential!
K. Parry (violin): For example, J.C. Bach looked after Mozart when he came to London as a boy and his tuneful, rococo style can often be heard in Mozart’s music.
Handel and J.S. Bach became stronger influences later thanks to the encouragement of one of their patrons, Gottfried van Swieten.
3. In October 2016, you are going to launch your The Beethoven Cycle, a series of peformances featuring all the Beethoven Quartets, and this also by underlining the strong philological association, which exists among the last Quartets by Haydn and the first ones by Beethoven: how do you feel, in their music, the Revolutionary character from an old Innovator (Haydn) and to a new Innovator (Beethoven)? And many anecdotes exist on this peculiar situation directly from those times!
A. Butterfield (violin): The relationship between Haydn and Beethoven is a fascinating one.
Beethoven asked Haydn for some lessons but these took place at a time when Haydn was preparing for his second visit to England in 1794 and it seems that Beethoven became frustrated that he didn’t have his teacher’s undivided attention.
The fact that Beethoven’s first set of quartets were being written at the same time as Haydn’s final set and that they were commissioned by the same person, Prince Lobkovitz, is intriguing, especially since Haydn only managed to write 2-and-a-half of his set of six. He wrote in the manuscript of the third quartet, «Old and weak am I; all my strength is gone.» and yet he went on to write The Creation and The Seasons after this so the pressure from his pupil clearly got to him.
R. Alford (cello): The revolutionary character of Beethoven’s music is unmistakeable, especially his use of sforzando accents and other surprise dynamics as well as shocking harmonic shifts.
It is easy to forget, though, how innovative Haydn and Mozart were and that so many of the devices that Beethoven used had already been pioneered by his predecessors.
The Overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni, for example, contains dramatic crescendos that lead to sudden pianos, a device that Beethoven was to develop on a grand scale and Beethoven’s scherzos were a clear development of the myriad examples written by Haydn.
As a young man in the 1790s Beethoven probably saw Haydn as old-fashioned but he wrote his Op.74 quartet just after Haydn’s death in 1809 almost as a tribute to his former teacher and perhaps he had come to realise that he had learned rather a lot from him.
K. Parry (violin): Our Beethoven quartet cycle starts in October 2016 at St. John’s Smith Square in London and we will perform his complete quartets there over a period of three years.
It is still quite rare to hear Beethoven quartets on period instruments and this is a very exciting project for us.
There is plenty of standard 19th century repertoire by composers such as Mendelssohn and Schubert that we want to explore, but we like to mix that with much more rarely performed works by composers like Boccherini, Spohr, Viotti, Donizetti and even Coleridge-Taylor.
A. Butterfield (violin): We work regularly with wind players and piano and our new recording of the flute quartets of Mozart as well as those of his contemporaries in Mannheim and Paris, with Rachel Brown, is due for release in August 2016 on Rachel’s Uppernote label.
K. Parry (violin): However a composer we always come back to is Haydn. Maybe one day we will work our way through all of his wonderful quartets!
4. You, both as a quartet and as single performers, are also an important example of musicians and entrepreneurs, creating and founding your own Ensembles and Musical Seasons, what’s your very first advice to those young musicians who want to follow this particular type of path? What can you say from your experience?
A. Butterfield (violin): Being an entrepreneurial classical musician certainly doesn’t become any easier!
But if you love the music you want to perform enough and are prepared to work incredibly hard you can still do well. One needs to be innovative and imaginative in terms of the way one presents programmes.
Our Viennese Quartet Party idea is a good example of that!
So many audience members have told me how much they appreciate being given some explanation of the context of the music I am performing for them and this is particularly true of music from long ago.
R. Alford (cello): With so much studio-recorded music available these days it is vital that concerts offer more than just perfection of ensemble and intonation, important though those are. Live performance should be dangerous and spontaneous so that audiences go away having been so thrilled and moved that they will be inspired to go to more concerts in the future.
5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
A. Butterfield (violin): Favourite compositions are such an impossible question! I tend to have favourites that are the pieces I am working on at that moment!
R. Stott (viola): Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro will always be a highly treasured piece and it happens to be very relevant to our Quartet Party programme.
A. Butterfield (violin): The slow movement of Haydn’s last completed quartet, the F major Op.77 No.2, is always one we love to come back to. It has an almost prayerful, elegiac quality to it that never fails to move us.
6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?
R. Stott (viola): Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841) is an interesting musician who is little known. We have played one of his quartets and we think his music deserves more exposure.
A. Butterfield (violin): I have championed Jean-Marie Leclair‘s music for some years now. He was a French baroque violinist/composer (1697-1764), who wrote a large amount of wonderful violin and chamber music as well as an opera
7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
R. Stott (viola): Telemann’s Die Donnerode (TWV 6:3a/6:3b).
8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
K. Parry (violin): Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style is a very important book and Paul Griffiths‘ The String Quartet, A History contains much useful information. And I know you want to add another book.
A. Butterfield (violin): I met and was coached by Hans Keller many years ago. He was a controversial figure who made people think by challenging received ideas. I refer regularly to his book The Great Haydn Quartets.
9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
K. Parry (violin): In search of Haydn (Seventh Art Productions), The Genius of Mozart and The Genius of Beethoven (top documentary films), excellent introductions to the lives and times of three extraordinary composers.
And for fun: Amadeus – the remarkable film of Peter Shaffer’s play.
10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?
K. Parry (violin): Surely Vienna? Mozart and Haydn even played quartets together here! And what about Mannheim?
A. Butterfield (violin):Vienna is obviously a good choice, but I wonder whether Mannheim would be a bit different and an opportunity to remind the reader about our new recording that is just coming out of Flute Quartets by Mozart and some of his colleagues in that city.
K. Parry (violin): Oh, yes! Certainly!
A. Butterfield (violin):The Mannheim orchestra was famous for its meticulous discipline and for numerous novel and strikingly dramatic effects such as the Mannheim crescendo (a passage that started very softly and built up very gradually to a great fortissimo), the Mannheim rocket (a rapid rising arpeggio figure across a wide range with crescendo) and the Mannheim sigh (an affettuoso use of slurs as aspirating figures with diminuendo). Mozart spent a number of months in Mannheim getting to know the talented musicians there especially the flautist, Wendling, who brought about the commissions for Mozart’s flute quartets and concertos. Mozart desperately wanted a job at the court there yet sadly it wasn’t to be, but his later music was greatly influenced by the musicians that he got to know in that orchestra. Our recording of Mozart’s flute quartets, with the flautist Rachel Brown, which she has to intermingle with works by his contemporaries in both Mannheim and Paris (such as Wendling, Gluck, Viotti and Danzi) is due for release on Rachel’s own Uppernote label in the next few weeks.
So, dear MozartEra fans, with this new CD Album Revolutionary Flute Quartets – Mozart, Mannheim & Paris, this summer another musical gem will be added to the exquisite and magnificent recordings by The Revolutionary Drawing Room Quartet! Dear Adrian, dear Kathryn, dear Rachel and dear Ruth, thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
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