Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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201801Mozart Performs At Court2018072320190930 (R3)

Donald Macleod surveys Mozart's early encounters with the Austrian Archduke, Joseph II.

All this week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was honoured to obtain a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart's life and his music.

In 1762 when Mozart was only six years old, he performed for the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. Her son Archduke Joseph was also present. Mozart's next imperial visit was in 1767, but his reception then was less promising. Joseph however suggested that Mozart might like to compose and conduct an opera. Mozart worked hard to court the favour of the future Emperor, but he also realised that Joseph's tastes in music were severely lacking.

Minuet in G K1
Dejan Lazic, piano

Symphony No7 in D K45
English Chamber Orchestra
Jeffrey Tate, conductor

Missa Solemnis in C minor K139 (Credo)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
RIAS Kammerkor
Marcus Creed, conductor

Sonata for two pianos in D K448
Martha Argerich, piano
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Producer Michael Surcombe.

Donald Macleod explores Mozart's early encounters with Joseph II.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201802Mozart In Enlightened Times2018072420191001 (R3)

Donald Macleod journeys through Mozart's early career in Vienna as he sought imperial favour

All this week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was honoured to obtain a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart's life and his music.

Today we follow Mozart to Vienna, having left the employment of Salzburg's Archbishop Colloredo. He was seeking to secure a court position, although these posts were occupied for life and so very hard to come by. Joseph's musical tastes didn't seem to stretch to 'opera seria' but he did enjoy the sound of wind instruments. Mozart composed a Serenade K375, adding a pair of oboes to accommodate Joseph's own court ensemble. The Emperor was also very interested in many of the precepts of the Enlightenment, and Mozart's next opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, is a kind of Enlightenment essay celebrating virtue as a source of happiness. For many Viennese spectators, Joseph himself was at the heart of the opera's story.

Fugue K153
Sang Woo Kang, piano

Serenade K375
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Violin Sonata K 379 (Finale)
Rachel Podger violin
Gary Cooper, fortepiano

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail K38 (Act 1)
Thomas Quasthoff, bass (Selim)
Diana Damrau (Konstanze)
Rolando Villazon, tenor (Belmonte)
Paul Schweinester (Pedrillo)
Franz-Josef Selig (Osmin)
Vocalensemble Rastatt
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor

Producer Michael Surcombe.

Donald Macleod on how Mozart sought the favour of the imperial court.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Donald Macleod journeys through Mozart's early career in Vienna as he sought imperial favour

All this week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was honoured to obtain a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart's life and his music.

Donald Macleod on how Mozart sought the favour of the imperial court.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201803Mozart Receives An Imperial Commission2018072520191002 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Mozart's developing relationship with Emperor Joseph II

In Composer of the Week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was one of the greatest composers in the Western Classical tradition. He was a child prodigy and a highly prolific composer whose music would influence generations to come. Yet despite these accolades, Mozart's life was not one of untold wealth and splendour. He was often financially strapped, and frequently looked to his friends for help. Upon the death of the composer Gluck, Mozart at last obtained a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his in interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart and his music.

Mozart became a Mason, motivated by his conviction that the improvement of the human race would arise through self-perfection. His song Ihre unsre neuen Leiter was composed to open and close the inaugural session of a Masonic Lodge in 1786. It was also through Masonic connections that Mozart made contact with the clarinettist Anton Stadler, with whom he would go on to collaborate. Emperor Joseph II had a more guarded approach to Freemasonry. He sought to curb the Lodges' powers, to prevent as he saw it, the spread of the contagion of atheism and radicalism.

It was around this time that the Emperor commissioned a new opera from Mozart. The outcome was The Marriage of Figaro, and Joseph was greatly impressed deeming the opera to be divine. Then in 1787 the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck died, leaving a vacancy at court. Mozart was appointed Royal and Imperial Court Chamber Composer, although at a far reduced salary in comparison to what Gluck had received. Mozart had long sought a salaried position at court, and at last he had achieved this.

Ihre unsre neuen Leiter K484 (Masonic Song)
John Heuzenroeder, tenor
Willi Kronenberg, organ
Michael Alexander Willens, conductor
Cologne Academy male voices

La Nozze di Figaro K492 (Act 3, Sc 11-14)
Lorenzo Regazzo, bass (Figaro)
Patrizia Ciofi, soprano (Susanna)
Simon Keenlyside, baritone (Il Conte)
Veronique Gens, soprano (La Contessa)
Collegium Vocale Gent
Concerto Koln
Rene Jacobs, director

String Quartet in B flat K458 (Adagio)
Hagen Quartet

Adagio in B flat for 2 basset horns K411
Netherlands Wind Ensemble

A Musical Joke K522
Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

Producer Michael Surcombe.

Donald Macleod surveys Mozart's ascending status with the Holy Roman Emperor.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201804Mozart Responds To Cultural Changes2018072620191003 (R3)

Donald Macleod journeys with Mozart as he composes music for the court and the changing cultural scene of Vienna

In Composer of the Week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was one of the greatest composers in the Western Classical tradition. He was a child prodigy and a highly prolific composer whose music would influence generations to come. Yet despite these accolades, Mozart's life was not one of untold wealth and splendour. He was often financially strapped, and frequently looked to his friends for help. Upon the death of the composer Gluck, Mozart at last obtained a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his in interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart and his music.

A salaried position with the Imperial Court has at last been offered to Mozart. He became Composer of Chamber Music to the Emperor Joseph II, and part of his duties included composing music for the palace balls. Around this time the Emperor Joseph, in support of his Russian allies, had gone to war with the Ottoman Empire. This focus on foreign affairs proved exceptionally expensive, and there were rumours that Joseph II was going to disband the Italian opera company. With this in mind, Mozart turned his attention to writing more chamber music. Joseph did continue to take an interest in opera, and was concerned that Mozart's new work Don Giovanni would be much too difficult for the singers. After hearing the opera, the Emperor remarked that is was not the kind of thing suitable for his Viennese.

Handel arr. Mozart
Acis and Galatea (Overture)
Handel and Haydn Society
Christopher Hogwood, director

Mozart
German Dances K567
Tafelmusik
Bruno Weil, director

Piano Trio in G K564
Rautio Trio

Don Giovanni K527 (Act 2, Sc 13-16)
Johannes Weisser, baritone (Don Giovanni)
Lorenzo Regazzo, bass-baritone (Leporello)
Alexandrina Pendatchanska, soprano (Donna Elvira)
Olga Pasichnyk, soprano (Donna Anna)
Sunhae Im, soprano (Zerlina)
Nikolay Borchev, bass (Masetto)
Alessandro Gueronzi, bass (Il Commendatore)
Kenneth Tarver, tenor (Don Ottavio)
RIAS Kammerchor
Freiburg Baroque
Rene Jacobs, conductor

Fantasy in D minor K397
John di Martino's Romantic Jazz Trio

Producer Michael Surcombe.

Donald Macleod follows Mozart composing to meet public demand.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201805Mozart's Unmarked Grave2018072720191004 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Emperor Joseph II's impact upon Mozart in his final years

In Composer of the Week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was one of the greatest composers in the Western Classical tradition. He was a child prodigy and a highly prolific composer whose music would influence generations to come. Yet despite these accolades, Mozart's life was not one of untold wealth and splendour. He was often financially strapped, and frequently looked to his friends for help. Upon the death of the composer Gluck, Mozart at last obtained a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his in interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart and his music.

During Mozart's final years, the worry over finances was never far from his mind. His wife Constanze had fragile health, and required expensive medical treatment. By this time Emperor Joseph II was not in good health either. He was aware of Mozart's financial situation, and behind the commission of the opera Cosi fan tutte, we can glimpse the discreet hand of Joseph coming to Mozart's aid. During the Emperor's reign he sought to change many things culturally and socially. In the interests of economy and hygiene, the burial system throughout the empire had been updated. Although Joseph II had died before Mozart, the impact of Joseph's reforms were still felt after his death. Mozart's own burial was symbolic of Joseph's restructurings. The composer was buried, sewn into a linen cloth and laid in a simple grave with other bodies. Headstones had been banned, so there is no marker for the grave.

Ave Verum Corpus K618
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Cosi fan tutte K588 (Act 1, Sc 14-16)
Simone Kermes, soprano (Fiordiligi)
Malena Ernman, soprano (Dorabella)
Kenneth Tarver, tenor (Ferrando)
Christopher Maltman, bass (Gugliemo)
Konstantin Wolff, bass (Don Alfonso)
Anna Kasyan, soprano (Despina)
Musicaeterna
Teodor Currentzis, conductor

Fantasia in F minor K608
Thomas Trotter, organ

Thamos, King of Egypt K345
Cologne Academy Orchestra
Michael Alexander Willens, conductor

Producer Michael Surcombe.

Donald Macleod surveys Mozart's final years, including his financial troubles.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.