An Exuberant Concerto from a Fiery Czech

Myslivecek Venice
Venice, painted by John Singer Sargent

One could easily mistaken this outstanding violin concerto for a less known composition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But it’s not from Mozart! It’s from one of his teachers, Josef Myslivecek. Myslivecek introduced Mozart to several compositional models for symphonies, Italian opera seria*, and violin concertos. Both Wolfgang and his father Leopold considered him a good friend from the time of their first meetings in Bologna.  They found his dynamic personality irresistibly charming – in his letters Mozart calls Myslivecek full of “fire, spirit and life” – until a mutual allegations of betrayal estranged the Mozart’s from Myslivecek.

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A Spanish Evening With a Guitar Wuintet

La Ritirata. © Charles Thibo

I have promised you Boccherini and Boccherini you will get! Such a prolific composer, such an excellent composer, and I always forget to write about him. No more. Matching the evening mood here is some wonderful chamber music for guitar and strings from Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), written in 1799 towards the end of his career and after the death of a powerful patron, the German Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm II.

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A musical patchwork for the Venetian audience

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Claude Monet painted the Doge Palace in Venice in 1908.

Venice and Vienna – two focal points of European culture. Venice and Vienna – two towns that play a major role in the life of the Italian composer Antonio Salieri, the famous counterpart of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna. Who would write the better operas? The established master from Venice or the ambitious young man from Salzburg? Who would win and keep the favour of the Emperor? Whose name will last and whose name will be forgotten? One is tempted to say that Mozart gained the upper hand, but that would not be true. Salieri has precisely not been forgotten, because Mozart, his most fierce competitor, became so popular.

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La Cenerentola or walking in Mozart’s footsteps

Where did Cinderella lose her shoes? © Charles Thibo

Cinderella lost one of her shoes at the ball, right? And the young prince, supposed to marry her, found her through the matching shoe on Cinderella’s foot. That’s the story as it has been told to us. So why did the librettist Jacopo Ferretti of this opera drop the shoe and let the prince find and recognize Cinderella through her bracelet? Mystery. Perhaps because this opera was written in a matter of days. It took Ferretti 22 days to complete the libretto while the composer, Gioacino Rossini, composed the music in 24 days. It all happened in 1816.

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