Music Hall Concert 25 May 2014 - Programme Notes


Serenata Notturna W. A. Mozart
Exultate Jubilate W. A. Mozart
A Song Before Sunrise F. Delius
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring F. Delius
The Walk to the Paradise Garden F. Dellius
Cantique de Jean Racine G. Fauré
Magnificat J. Rutter

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart’s reputation as a child prodigy is well documented. Born in Salzburg in 1756, and taught by his father Leopold, Mozart was already very well travelled by the time of his tenth birthday. Leopold, who like many other parents of the time saw nothing improper in exhibiting and exploiting his son’s God-given gift for music, was a prolific correspondent and also kept detailed travel diaries. From these we know that Mozart had been touted around the courts, cathedrals and palaces of Europe, travelling in the family’s own carriage, with a servant, and performing on the organ, harpsichord, piano and violin for the regional religious and political hierarchy and nobility. In 1761, at the tender age of 6, Mozart gave concerts in Munich and Stuttgart. In 1762 the family travelled east to Vienna and Linz. In 1763 they left on an epic journey which was to last for over three years, this time heading west to Mannheim, Frankfurt and Brussels. By the dawn of 1764 they were in Paris, where Mozart played for Louis XV at Versailles, whereafter they went on to London, where they stayed for 15 months, settling in Chelsea, and performing on a number of occasions for King George III. In 1765 they started the journey home to Salzburg, calling in at Calais, Lille, Antwerp, The Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels again, Lyons and Zurich, finally reaching home just in time for Mozart’s tenth birthday. Most of the rest of this year was spent in Salzburg and, in 1769, after a 12-month stay in Vienna, the thirteen year old Mozart was appointed as Konzertmeister to the Salzburg Court by Count Sigismund von Schrattenback, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, on a salary of 150 florins per year. Leopold was also employed at the Archbishop’s court as a violinist. The Prince-Archbishop was a generous man, allowing Mozart and his father much time off to undertake further concert tours to cities such as Munich, Milan and Paris. In 1769, when Mozart was a month and a half short of his fourteenth birthday, he set off from Salzburg for the first of three tours to Italy, accompanied by his father. During the 15-month trip, Mozart received the Order of the Golden Spur from Pope Clement XIV, was inducted into the Accademie Filarmonice in both Bologna and Verona and noted down on paper the setting of Psalm 51 (Miserere Mei) by Gregorio Allegri, from a single hearing of the work. (This hitherto unpublished piece, complete with its famous abbellimenti, was supposed to be the exclusive property of the Papal Choir.)

Mozart spent the years from 1769 – 1776 largely fulfilling contractual duties in Salzburg, and undertaking further concert trips south to Milan and east to Vienna. In terms of his compositional output, this period is prolific in instrumental music. In addition to 11 mass settings and 7 operas, also dating from these seven years are 30 symphonies, 16 string quartets, 4 early piano concertos, all 5 violin concertos, the trumpet concerto, the bassoon concerto, 10 church sonatas and literally dozens of other serenades, cassations, canons, fugues and divertimenti for both string and wind ensembles.