Program 3: Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra with Arabella Steinbacher violin: and Mandelring String Quartet
Mendelssohn was deliberately protected by both parents from exploitation and premature fame; in contrast, Mozart, along with his sister Nannerl, traveled all over Europe with their father Leopold who billed them as "Miss Mozart of Eleven and Master Mozart of Seven years of age, Prodigies of Nature." But, unlike Mendelssohn who met prominent composers of the day in his own city, it was by traveling outside Salzburg that Mozart came into contact with the leading contemporary musical figures in France, England, the Netherlands, Vienna, Germany, and Italy. Their influence is reflected in his violin concertos.
Mozart’s first original work in the concerto genre was the Violin Concerto No.1 in B flat, K. 207, composed in 1773 (previously dated 1775). This and the other four violin concertos composed in 1774 and 1775 are believed to have been written for Salzburg violinists, particularly Antonio Brunetti. During this time, Mozart served as Konzertmeister to the Salzburg archbishop, Hieronymus, Count von Colloredo (who, unlike his predecessor, Siegmund, was not particularly amiable to Mozart). His primary duties were the composition of church music – masses, litanies, music for vespers, shorter choral pieces, and single-movement sonatas mostly for violin and organ.
Mozart was a month shy of 20 when he completed the Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219, subtitled "Turkish," on December 20, 1775. Fascinated by the music of Turkish bands composers in the eighteenth century all over Europe invented alla Turca motifs–some of which were actually derived from Hungarian folk tunes–and used them in operas, ballets, and other works. Such motifs are found in two of Haydn’s operas and three of his symphonies; in the Finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; and in Mozart’s opera “Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” in the Rondo alla Turca of his Piano Sonata in A, K. 331, and in the Rondeau finale of K. 219.
Maynard Solomon suggests that seeds of the violin concertos, in particular the last three of 1775 – K. 216, 218, and 219 – may be found in Mozart’s Salzburg serenades, specifically those whose middle movements were, in effect, miniature violin concertos. Thus, he regards the violin concertos as the apex of Mozart’s serenade style, "detached from the serenade proper and reconstituted within a separate genre." To be sure, the basic features of the traditional concerto form remain, but as Robbins Landon has observed, "melody is piled upon melody, and new ideas succeed each other in blissful insouciance of each other and of any strict formal pattern."
Provenance of the Mozart K. 219 Autograph Score
In 1798, the composer and music publisher Johann Anton André bought close to 300 autograph manuscripts by Mozart from his widow, Constanze. Among them were all five violin concertos written in the small 10-stave notebooks that were bound together. After their father died in 1842, three of the five André sons – Carl August, Julius, and Jean Baptiste – sold their shares of the manuscripts. But the autograph of the K. 219 concerto later appeared in the collection of Jean Baptiste.
The next known owner was Karl Wittgenstein, head of one of the wealthiest, most influential, and well-known families in the intellectual and artistic circles of Vienna in the 1850s. Among the friends of the family were Johannes Brahms, Pablo Casals, and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, whose lessons with Mendelssohn were paid for by Wittgenstein. In 1899, the Mozart autograph score was given to Joachim and after he died in 1907, it apparently reverted to the Wittgenstein Collection.
When Karl died in 1918 the Collection was passed on to his son Paul, a famous concert pianist. (His brother was Ludwig, widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.) Paul lost his right arm during the First World War and subsequently commissioned several composers – among them Ravel, Prokofiev, Britten, Korngold, and Hindemith – to write works for left hand. When the Germans invaded Austria in 1938, Paul was fired from the conservatory for being part-Jewish. Pressured by his siblings to cooperate with the Nazis, he fled to New York.
In 1948, the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation in the Library of Congress acquired the autograph of the Mozart K. 219, one of five manuscripts from the Wittgenstein Collection negotiated with Paul’s nephew-in-law, John Stonborough, son of Paul’s sister, Margarethe, and Jerome Stonborough, an American industrialist scion and chemist. Along with the other four autograph manuscripts – Bach’s Cantata BWV 10; Haydn’s Symphony No. 90; Beethoven Piano Sonata, op. 109; and Mozart’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 6, K. 238 – Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, K. 219, is now part of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation Collection, which also contains original manuscripts of works by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, Schubert, and Weber, among others.
Ligeti String Quartet No. 2
On June 12, 2006, György Ligeti, one of the composers of the late 20th century who revolutionized post-WWII music, died in Vienna from a long illness at age 83. Numerous obituaries from around the world paid homage not only to his music but also to the man. One writer relates an anecdote that reveals Ligeti’s comic sense and lack of self-importance: reacting to an announcement of a Ligeti festival at the New England Conservatory in 1993 extolled him as "the world’s greatest living composer," he demurred, "Just call me the second-greatest. Then they will ask me who the greatest is, and I will answer, 'All my colleagues.'’" Another obituary sums up Ligeti’s unique legacy: "there is no doubting the huge impact of Ligeti’s work, not just within the rarified atmosphere of the concert hall but in the wider popular cultural landscape of the 20th century."
Born in Transylvania, Ligeti studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, later joining its faculty. After the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 he fled to Vienna and became an Austrian citizen in 1967. He gained popular recognition worldwide when excerpts from Lux Aeterna, Atmosphères and Requiem were used (without his permission) in Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 1957 he went to Cologne where he learned electronic techniques of sound production and met Western European composers of his generation: Stockhausen, Boulez, Keonig, and other composers of the Cologne, Darmstadt and Paris avant-garde. During this period, he wrote, "My whole life and way of thinking as a composer had turned 180 degrees."
His experience with multilayered sounds at the Cologne Studio for Electronic Music combined with the polyphonic style of Ockeghem, Josequin Desprez, and Palestrina evolved into his own compositional technique. He initially experimented with complex micro polyphonic textures in orchestral works and later sought ways of reducing the number of voices. One of the resulting works was the String Quartet No. 2. It was dedicated to the Lasalle Quartet who gave its first performance in Baden-Baden on December 14, 1969. In 1996, both his String Quartet No. 1 (1953-54) and No. 2 were recorded by the Arditti Quartet for Volume One of Sony’s György Ligeti Edition. For this recording, Ligeti wrote:
Each of its five movements is a different realization of the same basic idea, namely, the generation of different types of movement resulting from bundles of polyrhythmic voices. There is no longer any motivic writing in this music, no contours, only sound textures, which are sometimes frayed and almost fluid (as in the first and last movements) and at other times grainy and machinelike (as in the middle pizzicato movement). Among the influences on this work was Cézanne’s method of painting: how, I asked myself, can colors replace contours, how can contrasting volumes and weights create form?
(Translation: ©1996 Stewart Spencer)
—Tomás C. Hernández
Music and Performers
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for violin in A major, K. 219 ("Turkish")
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn with Arabella Steinbacher, violin
György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 2
Mozart Concerto in A major, K. 219:The nickname for the Mozart Concerto in A major for violin and orchestra, K. 219 (the “Turkish”) comes from the motifs heard in Turkish military band music, popular in Mozart’s day. View Concerto in A major, K. 219
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra: Germany's distinguished Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn was founded by Professor Jorg Faerber in 1960; conducted today by Ruben Gazarian, it has a discography of 500 works. Founded in 1960 by Professor Jörg Faerber, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn has been considered one of the world's finest chamber orchestras for almost half a century. In 2002, Jörg Faerber retired from his position as chief conductor and managing director. Since then, Ruben Gazarian has been the new chief conductor, burnishing the ensemble's reputation and expanded its standard chamber orchestra repertoire by enlarging its forces to perform works from the romantic era, and the 20th century, as well as contemporary compositions. The Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn is welcomed each year to leading festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, Flanders Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Musicali di Stresa and many others. Among the now-legendary artists who have appeared with the ensemble are Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, James Galway, Heinz Holliger, Gidon Kremer, Sabine Meyer, and Thomas Quasthoff.
Arabella Steinbacher: Arabella Steinbacher was born in Munich in 1981 to a mother of Japanese and father of German descent. At the age of three she received her first violin lessons, and nine became the youngest student at the Munich Music School, as a pupil of Ana Chumachenko. She was also a prize winner at the Joseph Joachim Violin Competition in Hannover in 2000, and in 2001 she won the sponsorship prize of the Free State of Bavaria. In March 2004 Ms. Steinbacher drew international attention, standing in, at short notice, to perform a Beethoven concerto with the Orchestra Philharmonique de Radio France, and Sir Neville Marriner. Current engagements include debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Fabio Luisi, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marek Janowski, plus European tour with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the European Youth Orchestra. An important place in her concert calendar is devoted to chamber musicm with recitals and chamber concerts this season in Florence, Tokyo, New York, Zurich, Dresden. Arabella Steinbacher plays the “Booth” Stradivarius, Cremona 1716, generously provided by the Nippon Music Foundation.
Ligeti String Quartet No. 2: Ligeti cited Paul Cezanne as an influence on his second quartet: "…no contours, only sound textures…sometimes frayed and almost fluid…at other times grainy and machinelike." View String Quartet No. 2
Mandelring Quartet: Based in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany, the Mandelring Quartet have been the guests of some of the world's most prestigious concert halls. The three Schmidts–Sebastian, Nanette, and Bernhard–decided at an early age to center their lives around quartet music. A native of Ingolstadt, the violist Roland Glassl is a partner equally dedicated to chamber music. The premises of a former winegrowing estate, surrounded by vineyards and almond groves, now offer the Quartet both space for rehearsals and a tranquil source of inspiration. In 1991, the Mandelring Quartet won the International Competitions for String Quartets in Munich (ARD) and Evian, as well as receiving the Evian International Press Jury Award. In 1994, they took 1st prize at the "Paolo Borciani Competition" in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Their wide repertoire includes areas of specialisation such as the works of George Onslow (1784-1853) and Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996). The Mandelring Quartet founded and directs the HambacherMusikFest, an international chamber music festival, which takes place at the famous Hambach Castle.