Mozart on Tour

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Biography, History Documentary hosted by Andre Previn, published by Philips Classics in 1991 - English narration

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Originally released by Philips Classics on VHS and Laserdisc in 1991, the 13-part Mozart on Tour series chronicles the journeys of the child, adolescent and adult Mozart across Europe, in what was ultimately to prove a futile pursuit of fame and fortune. Each episode is centred on a different European city and combines travelogue-style narration with musical excerpts and period re-enactment. Conductor and composer Andre Previn provides the historical and musical background, and actor Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War) reads from the many letters that Mozart wrote home while on his travels. Each episode includes a full performance of one of Mozart's twenty-seven piano concertos played by an internationally renowned soloist, orchestra and conductor. The performances take place in appropriately historical settings.

[edit] London

This episode covers one of Mozart's happiest periods, his childhood visit to the British capital, where he and his family were idolized by the royal court and came into contact with some of the foremost musicians of the time. Two musicians who had a seminal influence on the young man were German immigrants who ran an important concert series, Johann Christian Bach and Karl Friedrich Abel, the son of the great Johann Sebastian and one of the Thomaskantor's prize pupils. Both men had spent significant phases of their musical development in Italy, and so their music, which inspired Mozart's style, represented a virtual symbiosis of the greatest musical styles of the century, styles which saw their ultimate realization in works like. Performance: piano concerto No. 12, KV 414; Vladimir Ashkenazy performs the double role of soloist and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Great Hall of Lancaster House.

[edit] Mantua

One of the first tours the Mozart family made with their two gifted children brought them over the Alps to Italy. Here they encountered a culture which was to influence Wolfgang Amadeus for the rest of his life. The “Manzuoli style” of virtuoso singing, the Italian school of composition and a relatively new instrument called the pianoforte were to have a profound impact on Mozart' s creativity. Two of Mozart's earliest piano concerti were “pasticcio” arrangements for piano and orchestra made by Wolfgang and Leopold together, and based on piano sonatas by other composers. Even at this early age, the works bear the indelible imprint of the sublime musical master. Performance in the historic Teatro Bibiena in Mantua: piano concertos No.1, KV 37 and No. 4, KV 41; soloist Heidrun Holtmann, with the RISI Orchestra under the direction of Marc Andreae.

[edit] Milan and Bologna

If Italy is the weIl-spring of music, the city of Bologna is its ultimate source. The illustrious Bologna conservatory has educated scores of Italy's greatest composers and musicians from the rest of the world as well. Although Mozart was too young to be accepted for studies at the conservatory, his father still wanted him to take the entrance examination to prove his talent. When the great padre Martini saw what little Wolfgang had done with his assigned themes, he bent the rules a bit and “corrected” the voice leading. Piano concerto KV 175 is full of singing drama, as well as some of the intricate contrapuntal writing Mozart must have perfected under Martini's tutelage. Performance: piano concerto No. 5, KV 175 played by Malcolm Frager at the Teatro Bibiena in Mantua, with the RISI Orchestra under the direction of Marc Andreae.

[edit] Mannheim

Mozart’s time in Mannheim was a period of fateful encounters. For his musical development, the Mannheim Orchestra and the school of composition that went with it represented significant turning points in Mozart’s work. His artistic and emotional life also took a major turn in Mannheim when he met the music copyist Fridolin Weber and his singing daughters. He immediately fell in love with the second child, Aloysia. Her older sister Josepha later created the part of the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s last opera, “The Magic Flute”. And a third soprano daughter, Constanze, would figure most significantly in his life at a later date. The Mannheim Elector’s court spent a great deal of time at their country palace in Schwetzingen, and it is at Schwetzingen Palace that we hear Piano Concerto No. 6, KV 238, performed by Christian Zacharias with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti.)

[edit] Schwetzingen

Not only was Mozart unlucky in love in Mannheim, he also failed to achieve his ambition of becoming court composer to the elector, a turn of events perhaps partly attributable to the forthright, no-nonsense manner of this still very young man. Faced with the necessity of making money as best he could, he composed music on order for whoever could pay for it. The young lady for whom he wrote piano concerto No. 8 'Lützow', KV 246, was not a very accomplished performer, and the music is correspondingly simple. But in all its simplicity, this concerto, like virtually everything else this master composed, is seldom short of sublime. In our performance, conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti and the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart again join forces with soloist Christian Zarachias on the stage of Schwetzingen Palace.

[edit] Paris

The City of Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace and childhood home, had a great deal to do with his peripatetic life. He hated the place, and the humiliation of making music for the Archbishop. And so, when a prominent French pianist named Mlle. Jeun'homme visited Salzburg and performed some of Wolfgang's works, it was no wonder that he and his family took it as a sign fate wanted him in Paris. But his stay in the City of Light was no Gaîté Parisienne. The few job offers he received were not to his liking, and then his beloved mother, who had accompanied him there, took violently ill and died. In a Salzburg Festival performance, the Mozarteum Orchestra under Jeffrey Tate, with pianist Mitsuko Uchida plays piano concerto No.9 'Jeun'homme', KV 271.

[edit] Vienna - 1

In Vienna, Mozart experienced the highest and lowest points of his life. Travelling in the retinue of his ecclesiastical employer, Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, Wolfgang was summarily fired 'from his job; Too proud to follow his father's example and beg for his old position back, Wolfgang found himself abandoned, friendless and destitute - when, lo and behold! Whom did he run into but the Webers from Mannheim, the family with the beautiful talented daughters, who had come here to live after the death of father Fridolin. Wolfgang fell madly in love with her daughter Constanze, a resourceful young lady who was prepared to do anything and everything to get her man. Their stormy courtship and ultimate marriage has gone down as one of the greatest love stories in human history. The piano concerto No. 17, KV 453 takes place in the Austrian Imperial Palace in Schönbrunn and features soloist Dezsö Ránki and the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffery Tate.

[edit] Vienna - 2

With Wolfgang and Constanze comfortably ensconced in Vienna, he enhanced his artistic position as the focal point of a number of musical “academies”, not educational events, but rather large-scale concert presentations centred around the works of the featured composer. Relations between father and son had been strained, and Leopold made little secret of his distaste for what he considered his son's rather frivolous life-style. But a moving reconciliation took place when the most celebrated composer of the day, Franz Joseph Haydn, came to call and solemnly thanked Leopold for his contribution to the musical education of the man he declared to be the greatest composer he had ever known. His piano works from this period give us some idea of what a consummate performer he must have been as well. Piano concerto No. 20, KV 466, is played in Prague at the Waldstein Palace, featuring soloist Ivan Klánsk´y and Jiri Belohlávek at the podium of the Prague Chamber Orchestra.

[edit] Vienna and Prague

“The Marriage of Figaro” opened the season - Mozart wouldn't have it any other way. While perhaps not rife with the political satire of its original author, Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, whose leading character “Figaro” is a pun on his own name, le Fils Caron (Caron junior), Mozart's work asks some pretty basic questions about the relationships of men and women, the aristocracy and their servants, and is, to this day, possibly the most mature, genuinely human operatic composition ever written, with sublimely beautiful music that supports, intensifies and enhances the drama every step of the way. Like Mozart's operas, concerto No. 24, KV 491, is solid drama from start to finish, with a minor harmonic structure reminiscent of “Don Giovanni”. In our performance, recorded at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the host of “Mozart on Tour” does double-duty as soloist and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

[edit] Prague

Mozart was invited to Prague to conduct his “Marriage of Figaro”, an opera that had been more controversial than successful at its Viennese première. The composition took the Czech capital completely by storm and resulted in the commission for “Don Giovanni”, to another libretto by that prolific, one-of-a-kind wordsmith, Lorenzo da Ponte, who was so facile that he batted out the inspired words for Mozart's immortal music while simultaneously working on two libretti for other composers. Everything about the concerto No. 23, KV 488, is operatic in approach and execution - from the grand drama of the opening bars to the sublime, vocal lyricism of the central movement, to the soaring melody of the finale. In our performance, Hungarian pianist Zoltán Kocsis joins Czech conductor Jiri Belohlávek and the Prague Chamber Orchestra in the great hall of Waldstein Palace in Prague.

[edit] Frankfurt

When Austria's Emperor Leopold II went to the Congress City of Frankfurt to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Mozart went as well, hoping to be honoured with a commission for a coronation work or an imperial appointment. The results were disastrous. His arch-rival Salieri received the commission for the coronation opera. After being frustrated at just about every turn, Mozart was finally asked to write and perform a piano concerto for a concert on the fringe of the coronation ceremonies, a work which is no less regal for being virtually ignored at the time of its creation. In our presentation the concerto No. 19, KV 459 will be played in the Imperial Hall of the Residenz in Munich, the city where it received one of its major initial hearings, in a reading by pianist Radu Lupu and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie under David Zinman.

[edit] Munich

The Bavarian capital of Munich was always one of Mozart's favourite places - it saw important performances of many of his major instrumental works and hosted the world première of his monumental opera seria, “Idomeneo, re di Creta”. The first printed edition of his concerto No. 26 'Coronation', KV 537, written for the coronation of Emperor Leopold II in 1790, is remarkable for the fact that it doesn't contain all the notes of the solo part. This method prevented the music from falling into the hands of dishonest copyists, but more importantly, it reflects the fact that pianists were pretty much expected to know what the composer wanted from a musical sketch which called upon them to improvise the necessary harmonies, sometimes at sight. In our performance, given at Munich's Residence Palace, Maestro Wilhelm Keitel leads the Bavarian Radio Orchestra with Homero Francesch at the keyboard.

[edit] Vienna - 3

With his short life cruelly and rapidly drawing to a close, Mozart once again turned to the compositional style which most directly and profoundly reflected his own personality, the concerto for piano and orchestra. The work, which might have turned out to be a solemn, lugubrious work, but Mozart, even in his final days, was not about to make his farewells with a superficial, obvious cliché. In the final movement of an entirely positive and uplifting composition he regales his audiences with a lyrical children's song, invoking the joys of youth and springtime, perhaps a reflection back on those halcyon days when the monumental child prodigy first tasted the delights of being “Mozart on Tour”. In a fitting finale to our series, Aleeksander Madzar and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Andre Previn join together in Vienna' s Schönbrunn Palace for a performance of Mozart' s final concerto, No. 27, KV 595.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC High @L4.0
  • Video Bitrate: 2695 kbit/s
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Video Resolution: 640 x 480
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Audio: English
  • Audio Bitrate: 192 kbit/s CBR 48kHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 57 minutes
  • Framerate: 29.97 frame/s
  • Number of Parts: 13
  • Container: mkv
  • Part Size: 1.0 GB average
  • Source: DVD
  • Encoded by: PFT

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