Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Conlon, Conductor
Sir James Galway, Flute
Lady Jeanne Galway, Flute
Mozart: Serenade No. 10 in B-flat Major, K. 361
Bizet/Borne: Carmen Fantasy
Doppler: Rigoletto Fantasy, Op. 38
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-91)
Serenade in B-flat Major, K. 361 (370a) (“Gran Partita”)
Harmoniemusik received an inestimable boost in Vienna from Emperor Joseph II, who during his reign (1780-90) established a wind band to perform during imperial meals. Not to be outdone by a member of his own court—Prince Schwarzenberg, who maintained a wind sextet—Joseph organized eight players from the court orchestra into his ensemble of paired oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons. Local composers hurriedly turned out original works for His Imperial Highness. Recently moved to Vienna in 1781 and hoping for royal favor, Mozart adapted an earlier Serenade for Wind Sextet, K. 375 (adding two oboes to make an octet) and wrote a new Parthia (Serenade) for Wind Octet, K. 388 (384a). Unfortunately, the Emperor preferred operatic arrangements. More opportunistic musicians beat Mozart to the draw, most notably oboist Johann Nepomuk Wendt, who arranged The Marriage of Figaro, The Abduction from the Seraglio and Così fan tutte for winds.
The Serenade in B-flat Major, K. 361 (370a) comes from this same period. Its far larger instrumentation—two oboes, two clarinets, two basset horns (an early type of alto clarinet), four horns, two bassoons and double bass (not contrabassoon, as indicated in some editions)—earned the nickname “Gran Partita,” a subtitle inscribed on the manuscript by an unidentified hand. This work divides into seven of the most resplendent movements written for wind band.
Until recently, the earliest date associated with this work was a performance on clarinetist Anton Stadler’s benefit concert at the Burgtheater on March 23, 1784. J.F. Schink, a local critic, marveled at its enormous beauty and scale, even in this partial performance. “I heard music for wind instruments today by Herr Mozart, in four movements, glorious and sublime. It consisted of 13 instruments . . . and at each instrument sat a master—Oh what an effect it made—glorious and grand, excellent and sublime.”
Identification of watermarks on the manuscript paper suggest a somewhat earlier date of composition, perhaps 1781-82, the months of his courtship and marriage to Constanze Weber. (Attempts to connect this composition with Mozart’s 1781 stay in Munich are no longer considered plausible.) The Serenade’s unprecedented instrumentation coupled with the revised dating have prompted some experts to suggest that this may be Mozart’s wedding present. His letters offer no firm confirmation, but chronicle only an emotional ceremony and the wedding dinner.
Judged by sheer length, the Gran Partita exceeds all of Mozart’s symphonies, due not only to the greater number of movements, but also to the uncharacteristically broad dimensions for a serenade. His opening movement is a full-scale sonata with a slow introduction. The first theme quotes the aria “Je suis douce, je suis bonne” from François-André Danican Philidor’s comic opera Le maréchal ferrant (1761). Individual and selected pairs of instruments routinely contrast with the full group. Mozart also emphasizes sharp distinctions between legato and staccato articulations.
The next four movements alternate stately minuets with slower, more expressively lyrical pieces. Both minuets incorporate two contrasting trios, colorful episodes for a reduced ensemble. The Adagio numbers among the composer’s most sublime slow movements. Midway through the Romanza, itself no average testament to his lyrical powers, comes an exotic, modal Allegretto. The sixth movement presents six variations on a conventional, four-square theme. Mozart compensates for his conservative melodic substance with breathtakingly imaginative instrumentation. Exoticism of another type, namely stereotypical Turkish effects, enlivens the Rondo finale.
FRANZ DOPPLER (1821-83) and KARL DOPPLER (1825-1900)
Rigoletto Fantasy for Two Flutes, Op. 38
Franz Doppler was the most distinguished member in a family of Polish-Hungarian musicians. His father Joseph, an oboist in Warsaw and Vienna and composer, taught Franz to play flute. Younger brother Karl also became a respected flutist, conductor and occasional composer. Karl’s son, Árpád, developed into a top-ranking pianist who taught at the Stuttgart Conservatory and briefly at the Grand Conservatory in New York City.
Franz made his public recital debut at age 13. Four years later, he joined the German Theater in Pest as principal flutist and subsequently held the same position with the Hungarian National Theater. During these Hungarian years, Franz composed numerous ethnically inspired compositions, including operas, orchestral and chamber works, piano music and orchestral transcriptions of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. Franz moved to Vienna in 1858, as principal flutist of the court opera orchestra and conductor of the opera ballet. He became professor of flute at the Vienna Conservatory in 1865.
In its early years, Karl’s career ran parallel to his brother’s. He made numerous duo tours with Franz, and the two collaborated on several compositions and arrangements. Karl also performed flute in Pest’s German Theater and Hungarian National Theater, where he also conducted until 1862. For more than three decades (1865-98), Karl served as Kapellmeister at the Stuttgart court.
—Program notes © Todd E. Sullivan 2009
Family Space, 3-4:30 p.m. – North Lawn
(music-related crafts, storytelling, and “instrument petting zoo")
Sunday, August 9, 2:30 p.m. – Bennett • Gordon Hall
Artists from Ravinia’s Steans Institute