BBC announced 12 days of music completely devoted to broadcasting the works of the prolific musical genius. Every note that Mozart ever wrote, and additional Mozart related content, will air on Radio 3 between January 1 and 12.
Mozart music fans everywhere will have an opportunity to listen to the complete Köchel catalogue of existing Mozart compositions during the 12-day Mozart marathon which will also include documentaries, live performances and an acclaimed dramatisation of Mozart's life. The event, called “The Genius of Mozart” follows similar tributes to Bach and Beethoven carried out in previous years. On-line listeners will be able to hear BBC’s Radio 3 Mozart broadcasts in HD sound.
The comprehensive airing of the music of Mozart is a most timely event. It follows just a few days after the 219th anniversary of the death of the acclaimed composer and is expected to become the most extensive dedication to one composer yet. Sir Peter Hall's 1983 production of Amadeus, the original play later turned into an Oscar-winning film, will also be aired.
Mozart's musical genius
The Mozart family on tour plays music together. Watercolor by Carmontelle, ca. 1763.
On December 5 is the 219th anniversary of the death of the acclaimed composer and millions of classical music lovers around the world will recall aspects of his brief existence and listen with great pleasure many of his finest compositions. They will recall, for example, that Wolfgang and Nannerl, his older sister, were the only of seven children of Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart who survived past infancy. Encouraged by his father, and taking advantage of its many musical skills, little Wolfgang began to play musical instruments at age three and composing at age five. By the time he was 8 years old he had already composed his first three symphonies. At age 12 he had completed his first opera. Soon, he would exhibit his precocious talent in the royal courts of Europe and in the halls of the religious authorities of the time.
Amadeus, the movie
The film Amadeus describes the young musician as having an arrogant, exultant and irresponsible temperament. Lewd and interested in beautiful women, he was more inclined to parties, wine and good food, than in meeting his commitments to complete and deliver the commissions he received and allowed him to make a living.
The musical score, which starts with the first movement of Symphony No. 25, is impressive throughout the film. The movie chronicles the life and death of "Wolfie" (as his wife Constance affectionately calls him in the movie), from the point of view of Antonio Salieri, court composer for Emperor Joseph II of Austria, better known for his social reforms than for his musical sophistication. Among the many merits of the film is the brilliant selection of Mozart’s music gloriously played by the orchestra of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. Since the film’s worldwide release in 1984, and after receiving 11 nominations and 8 Academy awards, including best picture, the interest in the life and the works of Mozart increased significantly.
An important theme in the movie is the rivalry between Court Composer Antonio Salieri and Mozart. While young Wolfgang composed with supreme skill and incredible ease, and directed his music in the residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg and in the halls of the court of Joseph II, or effortlessly performed, backwards and crossed-handed, even upside-down, at vulgar parties with his bohemian friends, Antonio Salieri lamented his limited capacity for the production of even ordinary compositions and offered his chastity in exchange for a fraction of the fabulous talent that God so generously dispensed to the young and reckless musician.
Requiem: Mozart’s incomplete work
Mozart wrote over 600 works including 21 operas, 15 masses, over 50 symphonies, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 17 piano sonatas, 26 string quartets and numerous other pieces of great value. However, one of his most famous works is the Requiem. Although for dramatic effect the film Amadeus suggests that Salieri commissioned Mozart to compose the Requiem, as part of an evil plan to get revenge on God for his disparity in granting musical talent, history has shown that the composition of the requiem mass was secretly entrusted to Mozart by an anonymous client, Count von Walsegg, an amateur composer who planned to present it as his own and use it in his wife funeral.
Austrian National Library
A section of a page from the manuscript of W.A. Mozart's Requiem, K 626. (1791), showing Mozart's heading for the first movement.
Overwhelmed by financial problems, pressured from his wife Constance, who had more financial sense than the artist, haunted by his anonymous client and weakened by alcohol, late nights and an insidious disease, the composer refused to complete his work. Victim of morbid feelings, he feared that the mass he was composing was a prediction of his own death. The Requiem was not completed. Mozart died on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, most likely victim of acute rheumatic fever which caused him a cardiac arrest.
One of the most impressive scenes of the film Amadeus is when, on a rainy afternoon, the remains of the impoverished composer are thrown into a mass grave and the gravediggers throw a few shovelfuls of lime over the bag containing his body.
Although the Requiem was not completed by Mozart, the great requiem mass was subsequently completed at the request of Constance, by Mozart’s pupil and assistant Franz Xaver Süssmayr. This composer, using in part some drafts by Mozart, composed much of the Lacrimosa, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. Mozart is considered by many as the most talented composer that ever walked the face of this planet, and his Requiem, one of the great masterpieces of musical art.
Réquiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. Lord, give them eternal peace, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.