Notes on the Program
by Dr. Richard E. Rodda
New West Fanfare
Composed in 2015.
Notes by the composer.
When I was asked to create a "Fanfare" for the 20th anniversary of New West Symphony, I immediately felt it should be a celebration not just for the orchestra but for our audiences. Realizing that there would be a full choir onstage, I wanted to utilize the vocal as well as the instrumental resources. By reviewing slogans, mottos and themes from past seasons, I was able to select some appropriate and meaningful words that could be sung by the Los Robles Master Chorale, accompanied by the orchestral musicians already available for this Mozart program. The words and music came together quickly in my mind, and were then recorded on a keyboard instrument. The music was given to the NWS stage manager and arranger, Bob Bockholt, who transcribed my fanfare into an orchestral and vocal score. I think this piece is an inspiring reminder of the 20 seasons of beautiful music which New West has provided for our communities. I hope you enjoy the listening as much I enjoyed the creating.
Great Mass in C Minor, K. 427
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(b. Salzburg, 1756; d. Vienna, 1791)
Composed in 1782.
Premiered on October 23, 1783 in Salzburg.
Instrumentation: flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, organ and strings.
Duration: approximately 50 minutes.
In May 1781, Mozart bolted from the service of Archbishop Colloredo — what he bitterly termed his "Salzburg Captivity" — to settle in Vienna as a free-lance composer, pianist and teacher. He took lodgings in the capital with the Weber family, whom he had met in Mannheim during a stop on his job-hunting trip to Paris four years earlier. He had become infatuated in Mannheim with Aloysia, one of the Weber daughters, but discovered on his arrival in Vienna that she had married the actor Joseph Lange in 1780. Though he had paid scant attention to Aloysia's younger sister, Constanze, in Mannheim, by 1781 she had become an attractive, young woman of eighteen with a passable soprano voice, and she caught the composer's fancy immediately. Reports of their being seen together about town and in the Prater reached Papa Leopold in Salzburg, and Wolfgang had to calm his father's anxiety over a relationship that he felt might harm his son's career by assuring him that "I have never thought less of getting married than right now." By early 1782, however, despite his protestations, Mozart was seriously considering Constanze as his wife. So strong were his feelings for her, in fact, that he vowed to wed her and to write a grand, solemn Mass in thanks if she were to recover from a serious illness that struck her in the spring. She got well, and the couple was married at St. Stephen's Cathedral on August 4, 1782.
It was also in 1782 that Mozart developed a new, gleaming admiration for the music of Bach, Handel and other masters of the early 18th century. He had been exposed to the works of such Italian Baroque composers as Leo, Caldara, Durante and Alessandro Scarlatti in Salzburg, where their scores were used for performance and for study, but his interest in Bach grew from his association with Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the Court Librarian and musical amateur who had developed a taste for the contrapuntal glories of German music while serving as ambassador to Berlin. Van Swieten, who is also remembered as the librettist for Haydn's oratorios, The Creation and The Seasons, produced a weekly series of concerts in Vienna devoted to "ancient music," and hired the best available musicians, including Mozart, to perform and arrange the compositions for these events. (Among other projects, Mozart scored Handel's Messiah for classical orchestra for van Swieten.) Mozart, one of history's greatest adepts at absorbing musical styles, learned much about the fine workings of Baroque counterpoint from his close involvement with the works of Bach and Handel. He even began several fugues in the old style, but completed only the one in C minor for two pianos (K. 426), which he later arranged for strings and prefaced with a somber Adagio (K. 546).
The influence of Baroque music on Mozart's style was significant — after 1782 his works show a keen awareness of the expressive possibilities inherent in the old contrapuntal language. One of the first evidences of his mastery of polyphony was the C minor Mass, the work he had pledged to compose in observance of Constanze's return to health; it was apparently begun during the summer of 1782. On January 4, 1783, in a letter to Leopold promising to bring his bride for a family visit, Mozart wrote that he had "vowed in his heart" to perform a new Mass while in Salzburg, and mentioned that "as proof that I really made the promise" there existed "the score of half a Mass for which I still have high hopes." Mozart, however, had not completed the work when the couple left for Salzburg in late July, only a month after the birth of their first child, Raimund. (Raimund was left with a nurse in Vienna; he died on August 19th.) The promised performance of the Mass did not occur until October 26th, just one day before their return to Vienna, and even then the work still lacked most of the Credo and all of the Agnus Dei, so Mozart seems to have filled in the missing sections with music from some of his earlier Masses. The composer's beloved sister, Nannerl, whom he was never to see again after that day, recorded in her diary that Constanze took one of the soprano parts.
As was to occur with his other great sacred work, the Requiem, Mozart never finished the C minor Mass. Eric Blum suggested that he may have felt he was released from his vow because the main purpose of his Salzburg trip — to gain his father's approval for his marriage — was not realized. More probable is that Mozart simply could not achieve any significant gain by completing the piece. He had no commission to fill with the Mass, and its large scale would have made it impractical for service music, even if Emperor Joseph II had not recently imposed an edict on most instrumental music in Austrian churches. Had he lived longer, Mozart might well have returned to the piece, since just before the time of his death he had been assured of obtaining the conductor's post at St. Stephen's Cathedral. He did not, however, dismiss the Mass completely from his mind. When he was commissioned by the Vienna Tonkünstler Society to provide a cantata for their Lenten concerts in March 1785, he adapted several of its movements to new texts (whose previous attribution to Lorenzo da Ponte, librettist of Figaro and Don Giovanni, has largely been disproved), added two arias to it, and titled the result Davidde penitente (K. 469). The piece enjoyed a good success at its performances and was occasionally heard in Vienna and elsewhere until the middle of the 19th century, but the magnificent Mass from which it was drawn fell largely into obscurity, entering the collected edition of Mozart's works issued in 1882 in a fragmentary state. At the turn of the 20th century, Alois Schmitt "completed" the work by editing, re-orchestrating and filling in the missing sections with music from other of Mozart's Mass settings, the same expedient the composer had apparently used for the only performance given during his lifetime. In the 1950s, the esteemed scholar H.C. Robbins Landon decried this adulteration of the original score and made another version of the Mass that returned to the music as Mozart left it. In 1986, as part of its Neue Mozart-Ausgabe ("New Mozart Edition"), the German music publisher Bärenreiter issued a new version of the score, edited by Monika Holl and Karl-Heinz Köhler, for which Helmut Eder returned directly to the composer's manuscripts and "reconstructed and completed" the Credo, the Et incarnatus est and the Sanctus with Osanna fugue according to what he perceived to be Mozart's original intentions.
Mozart planned his C minor Mass on a scale that would rival Bach's Mass in B minor. Rather than adopting the late-18th-century procedure of setting each of the five Mass sections as a single movement, he followed the older practice of the so-called "cantata Mass," in which the text was divided into several parts. (Bach's Credo, for example, is spread across eight separate movements.) One of the most remarkable aspects of this Mass is its wide diversity of styles. Though heavily indebted to Bach in the thorough contrapuntal texture and grandeur of expression of such portions as the Qui tollis, Sanctus and Hosanna, it also uses the majestic, ceremonious processional as perfected by Handel (Gloria and Gratias) and the flamboyant solo aria of contemporary opera (Et incarnatus est). As with Mozart's concertos, symphonies, operas and sonatas, however, it is not simply his absorption of other styles that is impressive, but the manner in which he transmuted them through his ineffable compositional genius into sparkling, characteristically Mozartian jewels. "More than any other religious work for voices," wrote Alfred Beaujean, "Mozart's great C minor Mass sums up the whole 18th century — and it is indeed a summing-up that bears the stamp of the highest creative power and originality."
©2014 Dr. Richard E. Rodda