with host Laura Carlo, WCRB Radio

Saturday, April 21, 2018, Emmanuel Church, Boston
Sunday, April 22, 2018, Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester

Un poco Andante (from ballet music)            Christian Cannabich (1731-1798)

Quartet in A Minor for flute and strings, op 1, no 4            Cannabich
    Andantino • Allegro molto

Trio in D Major, op. 5, no. 6            Johann Baptist Wendling (1723-1797)
    Allemande (Presto)

Quartet in C Major for flute and strings, K. 285b            Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
    Allegro • Thema [con variazioni]  


Divertimento in A Major            Josef Myslivecek (1737-1781)
    Allegretto • Andante • Presto   
Sonata da Camera in F Minor            Ignaz Holzbauer (1711-1783)
    Andante assai • Adagio ma non troppo  
    Minuetto • Finale

Quintette traduite de l’opéra ‘Figaro’            W. A. Mozart, arr. by F. A. Hoffmeister (1754-1812)

Suzanne Stumpf, classical flute
Sarah Darling, violin and viola;  Asako Takeuchi, violin
Marcia Cassidy, viola; Daniel Ryan, cello

Program Notes

This program provides a snapshot of the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart during a formative period of his musical development—the months he spent in Mannheim in 1777-78. These performances intersperse music by Mozart and his Mannheim colleagues with readings from the Mozart family letters to offer a broad perspective on Mozart’s musical and personal circumstances.

During the late eighteenth century, the court at Mannheim was one of the glories of Germany. Its magnificent palace, built during the reign of Elector Carl Philipp (reigned 1716-42), was the largest in the region. The Elector had a strong interest in the arts. This interest was carried on by his successor Carl Theodor who assembled a retinue of the most skilled instrumentalists and singers who performed in the concerts, operas, church music, and incidental and ceremonial music that comprised the court’s daily entertainments. When Mozart and his mother arrived in Mannheim in October 1777, they witnessed the lavishness of the musical establishment at the Elector’s court.

Christian Cannabich and his family were among the first to meet the Mozarts on their arrival in Mannheim and were gracious friends to them during their stay. Mozart had great respect for Cannabich’s leadership of the orchestra, calling him the best conductor he had ever seen. Cannabich was particularly well-known in his day as a composer of ballet music, and Mozart was engaged to help him with some chamber music arrangements of his ballet scores, possibly including the one heard on this program. Cannabich’s instrumental works are numerous, comprising symphonies, concertos, and chamber works. His Flute Quartet in A Minor contains the dynamic contrasts and dramatic flair for which the Mannheim school became famous.

An important goal of Mozart’s visit to the court was to obtain an appointment. While in Mannheim, he participated formally and informally in the court’s musical life. Mozart made this visit with his mother only—it was his first time traveling without his father. The correspondence between father Leopold and son reveal Leopold’s growing worry and frustration over Wolfgang’s slow progress in gaining the Elector’s attention. He did, however, receive a commission to write some flute quartets and concertos for a doctor and amateur flutist named Ferdinand Dejean. He also fell in love with Aloysia Weber, the sister of the woman he would eventually marry. This infatuation is reflected in frivolous and evasive statements in his letters to his father. Mozart dragged his feet on the commission, giving his father the excuse, “You know that I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to write for an instrument I cannot endure.” Because Mozart is known to have greatly admired the playing of the Mannheim flutist Johann Baptist Wendling, who was also a close friend, this remark is of questionable credibility and must be seen as one of many excuses offered to appease his distressed father.

Johann Baptist Wendling was the court’s virtuoso flutist who became a steady companion to Mozart during his Mannheim stay. It was Wendling who arranged for the Dejean commission. He was among the most well-traveled of the Mannheim instrumentalists, having performed in Paris at the Concert Spirituels and in London in collaboration with J. C. Bach. His playing was influential to the composers who heard him and wrote for him. Wendling composed exclusively works that included his instrument, writing many concertos and chamber works. Mozart collaborated with him in orchestrating one of his concertos. The trio chosen for this program reveals Wendling’s highly theatrical compositional style.

Mozart’s Flute Quartet in C Major may have been among the quartets composed for the Dejean commission, although it was written in Vienna in 1781-82. In contrast to his first two flute quartets, this work features a tightly integrated ensemble texture. The second movement, arranged from his Divertimento for thirteen winds, K. 370a, is a theme and variations that offers contrasting solo opportunities for each instrument.

Josef Myslivecek was a Czech composer who had a warm and intimate friendship with Mozart beginning with their meeting in Bologna in 1770. This friendship lasted until 1778 when he lost Mozart’s trust because of his inability to come through on a promise of a commission for an opera in Naples. Myslivecek’s operas, symphonies, and concertos provided compositional models for the young Mozart. His Divertimento in A Major shows influence of operatic style, with lyrical and exuberant melodic writing throughout.

Ignaz Holzbauer was the opera director in Mannheim beginning in 1753 and subsequently become the director of the Mannheim Hofkapelle in 1773. Mozart was impressed by his music, praising Holzbauer’s 1777 opera Günther von Schwarzburg, a work that influenced Mozart’s Idomeneo. Holzbauer’s Sonata da Camera is a string quartet in the Sturm und Drang style, with dark timbres of F Minor and B-flat Minor and frequent, turbulent dynamic shifts.

Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro, premiered in Vienna in 1786, and was performed in Mannheim in 1790. Mozart made a second trip to the Mannheim court to oversee its production. An arrangement of one of its arias, Al desio di chi t’adora, was published and presumably created by Franz Anton Hoffmeister. The richness of Mozart’s original orchestration, with its inclusion of basset horns, is effectively captured  in Hoffmeister’s quintet setting. 

—Daniel Ryan and Suzanne Stumpf