Happy New Year
The musical training of the remarkable Alma Deutscher, violinist, pianist, & (self-taught) composer, has included work on baroque figured bass (partimenti) with a focus on developing her understanding of harmony.
Alma, age 12, performing her own Violin concerto in Vienna in 2017. She also performed her own piano concerto in the same concert.
Starting with melodies composed from the age of 8, Alma wrote her own operatic version of the of the Cinderella story. She revised, enlarged and re-orchestrated the opera into its final 4-act, 2 1/2 hour form at age 12 – here performed by San Jose Opera, 2017.
Alma Deutscher is inspired by *Marianne ‘Nannerl’ Mozart, the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
When Nannerl was seven years old her father, Leopold Mozart, started teaching her to play the harpsichord. Although as a child she was considered one of the most skillful keyboard players in Europe, her parents considered that as she grew older it was socially inappropriate for her to continue her career any further. From 1769, Nannerl, age 18, was no longer permitted to show her artistic talent on travels with her brother, as she had reached a marriageable age. Wolfgang went on during the 1770s to many artistic triumphs while traveling in Italy with Leopold, but Marianne had to stay at home in Salzburg. There is evidence that Nannerl wrote musical compositions, as there are letters from Wolfgang praising her work but, sadly, none of her music has survived. Alma Deutscher is fortunately not constrained by such conventions and is free to compose and perform, with the wholehearted support of her parents.
Music in 18thc. England
Handel & his contemporaries
The Anglo-German composer and organist, G F Handel, was born in Halle, Germany in 1685, some 50 miles from where
J S Bach was born in the same year. Handel’s most well known composition is the Oratorio Messiah. He also composed extensively for keyboard, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and 42 operas. Other well known works include The Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks. He became a British Subject in 1727, and lived the remainder of his life in London.
On the occasion of the 1st performance of Music for the Royal Fireworks, the stand on which the fireworks were mounted caught fire with dramatic results; fortunately rain followed and further disaster was averted. The performance took place on the evening of April 27th, 1749 in London to celebrate the end of the *War of the Austrian Succession, and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
Handel’s house, restored to its original condition, is now a museum and a venue for small-scale baroque chamber music concerts. In late 1960’s, the American rock guitarist & song writer Jimi Hendrix lived for a year in an apartment on the top floor of the house.
Quotes regarding Handel:
Johann Sebastian Bach is attributed with the following remark:
“Handel is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach”.
The English late-baroque composer William Boyce is said to have remarked that Handel “…takes other men’s pebbles and polishes them into diamonds”
Upon hearing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Messiah, Joseph Haydn is said to have “…wept like a child” and exclaimed:
“…He is the master of us all”.
Beethoven is said to have exclaimed:
“Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived… I would uncover my head and kneel down on his tomb”.
However, Berlioz was not impressed: “… a tub of pork and beer”.
The English composer Charles Avison based his set of 12 Concerti Grossi on keyboard works by Scarlatti (including No. 5 played by DHSBE). In ‘An Essay on Musical Expression’, 1752, the composer expressed some disdain for Handel’s music (while acknowledging the composer’s genius), and expressed a strong preference for the work of his former teacher Geminiani.
William Boyce, composer &organist, is best known today for his set of 8 symphonies:
The English composer Thomas Arne, composed extensively for the stage, and is best known as the composer of the British gingoistic/patriotic song Rule Britannia,1740; and for God Save the King – which subsequently became our British National Anthem.
In 1749, the English composer and provincial clergyman, with the memorable name – Rev. Richard Mudge, published a set of six ‘Concertos in Seven Parts’ (in Handelian style):
Many countries in Europe were at war during much of the baroque period, 1600-1750.
One of the most serious 18thc. conflicts was the War of the Austrian Succession which started in 1740 – the same year that Handel composed Concerti Grossi Op. 6; Rameau composed Pieces de clavicin en concerts; and Emile du Chatelet published Institutions de Physique, which included a demonstration that the energy of a moving object is proportional to the square of its velocity (Ek = 1⁄2mv²). The war involved most of the powers of Europe over the issue of the succession of Archduchess Maria Theresa to the Habsburg Monarchy. The cause of the war resulted from Maria Theresa’s alleged ineligibility to succeed to her father, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, because of a law that precluded royal inheritance by a woman; although another law did allow royal inheritance by a woman and Marie Theresa (later mother of Marie Antoinette), was confirmed as Holy Roman Empress, Archduchess of Austria, and Queen of Germany, Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. Commercial & political issues regarding the inheritance/distribution of Habsburg lands in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, The Netherlands, Bohemia & Italy were also important issues. The war ended in 1748, with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle celebrated with a firework display in London with music by Handel.
However, the war did not settle the commercial & political issues, and in 1756, the Seven Years War again split Europe into two coalitions: Great Britain, Prussia, Portugal, Hanover & other small German States on one side, and France, Austria/Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Spain, & Sweden on the other. The Seven Years War could be considered the first of the ‘world wars’ as it spanned Europe, Russia, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines.
The Seven Years War ended in 1763 – the same year Haydn composed his Op. 2 String Quartets & Symphony No. 13. It was also the start of a 3 1/2 year tour of Europe by Amadeus Mozart (age 7), his older sister *Nannerl, and their father Leopold Mozart. Having left their home in Salzburg, the young Mozart & Nannerl first played at the Imperial Court in Vienna, and in Prague, and subsequently traveled to play for the courts in cities across Europe including Munich, Mannheim, Cologne, Paris/Versailles, London, The Hague, and back to Salzburg via Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Zurich, and Munich. Very little was settled politically in Europe at the end of the Seven Years War, and there were a further 180 conflicts in Europe before the start of WWII in 1939.