A jestful piece hiding Mozart’s desperation

Hey, hey, Mister Postman! © Charles Thibo

Illustrating this post required some undercover work. I had the idea to write something about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Serenade for Winds and Strings in D major “Posthorn” (KV 320) since last year’s summer. And I knew that many years ago, postmen in Luxembourg wore caps with a posthorn. Nowadays, they wear basecaps with a modern logo that has no charm at all. So where could I get a picture of such a cap? The post museum was one option, but all the stuff is exhibited behind protective and reflecting glass.

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Light-heartedness bordering Mozartian frivolity

Rosetti oboe concerto
Rosa, rosae, rosae… © Charles Thibo

He was a contemporary of Mozart and Haydn, but he developed his own style. You can hear some of Mozart’s sweet- and lightness and his thematic ideas are developed in way similiar to Haydn’s, especially in the symphonies. He did not become as famous as the two masters of the Vienna classic era even though he was a prolific composer. So who is he? Antonio Rosetti is his name; he was born as Anton Rösler in Litomerice in Bohemia around 1750 and opted later for the Italian form of his name, most likely for marketing reasons. As for his biography, the scholars have now dressed a precise register of what they don’t know, for what they know about him with certainty – it is not much.

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A Mozart oratorio about women empowerment

Judith beheading Holofernes – a painting by Franz von Stuck.

A Jewish woman is at the center of today’s work: Judith, who gave her name to a chapter of the Old Testament, the Book of Judith. The parable recounts the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian commander Holofernes and its deliverance by Judith. Bethulia never existed under this name, it may stand for Jerusalem, it certainly stands for a beleaguered city, its inhabitants terrorized and wavering in its faith in God. Judith however follows a heavenly vision, summons her courage and passes through the enemy lines. She enters Holofernes’ tent and by promising information on the Jews, she gains the commander’s trust. Seducing the enemy is the ultimate proof of her faith. One night Judith kills Holofernes and ends the ordeal of the city. A magnificent tale about courage, cunning, faith and women empowerment.

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Pristine elegance with a fatal destiny

Fragility. © Charles Thibo

“Such moments wait to be discovered: they are transitional, passing references to pure beauty, captured for an instant before they sink back into relatively quotidian”, writes the scholar Maynard Solomon and he explicitly refers to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G (KV 453). Pure beauty with all its fragility – Mozart’s piano concerto reminds me of the first blossoms on a tree in early spring, pristine, delicate, graceful, of exceptional elegance, promising new and abundant life, but threatened each night by the cold, wind gusts, heavy rain and thus imbued with a fatal destiny.

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