Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's Mozart's birthday.

Today (though it's fast passing) is the 260th birthday of Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, better known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ("Amadeus" is a Latinization of the Greek-derived "Theophilus"). He died at the age of 35, leaving a musical legacy with few rivals. Below is a clip of the first movement of his Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, KV. 550, audio with a still image of a posthumous (1818) portrait of the composer by Barbara Krafft. The profile portrait at left is a recently discovered one, believed to be painted from life, probably by the Austrian court painter Joseph Hickel. The performance in the clip is by the Georgian SIMI Festival Orchestra, 1998.

There's a delightful explication of this movement in this PBS Newshour piece, a conversation between PBS's Jeffrey Brown and composer Rob Kapilow, in which Kapilow explains how Mozart started with a simple ten note melody, developed and transformed it, then brought it to a conclusion in what Kapilow calls "the universe in three notes."

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