January 29, 2006

Positivity: Happy 250th to Mozart!

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

Friday, January 27 marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of “Amadeus” (Wiki entry on Mozart is here), and his devotees are making a weekend of it:

Mozart anniversary celebration rolls on
CLARKE BUSTARD
Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sick of Mozart yet?

Hope not. Because the season’s run-up to the 250th anniversary of his birth and this weekend’s anniversary events capped locally by a Richmond Symphony Kicked Back Classics program, “Happy Birthday Wolfi!” at 5 p.m. today at the Science Museum of Virginia get us barely halfway through the celebration.

Some of the biggest names and best music are yet to be heard.

The symphony still has two programs to go in its Mozart Festival series. The next, featuring violinist Karen Johnson and violist Molly Sharp in the Sinfonia concertante in E flat major, is Feb. 24 at Bon Air Baptist Church and Feb. 26 at Randolph-Macon College. The series finale, featuring Jie Chen in the Piano Concerto No. 23 and Madison Vest in the Violin Concerto No. 3, is May 12 at Bon Air Baptist Church.

More Mozart in concert: Andrew Appel’s Four Nations Ensemble will play chamber works by Mozart and his contemporaries at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

At the University of Richmond’s Modlin Arts Center, Dawn Upshaw, the acclaimed American soprano, will sing Mozart, among other composers, on Feb. 15 at Camp Concert Hall; Gil Shaham will join the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields for the Violin Concerto No. 5 at the same venue Feb. 27 (this concert is sold out, but if you show up you may find a seat); and the Shanghai Quartet will be joined by soprano Ying Huang and pianist Anton Kuerti for a March 1 Mozartiade.

UR’s Choir and Schola Cantorum, led by Jeffrey Riehl, will perform Robert D. Levin’s edition of Mozart’s Requiem — noticeably different from the S?ssmayr version the symphony presented last weekend — on April 9 in Camp Hall.

For Mozart in the theater, look for Paul Deiss’ new children’s version of “The Magic Flute,” a Theatre IV production Feb. 17 to March 26 at Barksdale Theatre; the Virginia Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” Feb. 24 and 26 at the Landmark Theater; and the University of Richmond Players’ production of Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” April 18 to 22 at the Modlin Center’s Jepson Theatre.

Mozart’s greatest hit, according to tradition, is “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

According to Nicolas Slonimsky’s “Lectionary of Music,” a much more reliable source than tradition, the tune, known in France as “Ah, vous dirai-je, maman,” is probably a variant on a French folk song. When Mozart visited Paris in 1778, he wrote a set of piano variations on the tune, which helped popularize it elsewhere in Europe.

The English lyric, by Jane Taylor, first appeared in “Rhymes for the Nursery,” published in 1806.

A Top 10 of Mozart compositions, from a poll of listeners by classicfm, the British radio service:
1. Clarinet Concerto
2. Requiem
3. “Ave Verum Corpus”
4. Piano Concerto No. 21
5. “The Marriage of Figaro”
6. “The Magic Flute”
7. “Laudate Dominum”
8. “Cosi fan tutte”
9. Concerto for flute and harp
10. “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”

The top-rated symphony was No. 40 in G minor, which ranked No. 13 in the listeners’ poll. The most popular chamber work was the Clarinet Quintet (No. 11).

“The Top 40 Mozart” can be found at www.classicfm.com.

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