top of page

Mozart the Plagiarist program notes

6 p.m. Oct. 8 * Musical Instrument Museum

Warren Cohen, conductor

 

Finding Light (world premiere)                       River Sawchyn (b. 2003)

                                                                                  MNO Composition Fellow   

 

Viola Concerto (world premiere)                   Alan Belkin (b. 1951)

            Graham Cohen, viola

 

A fiddling hoedown

            Graham Cohen and River Sawchyn

 

INTERMISSION 

           

Symphony no. 13 in D major                           Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

I. Allegro molto

II.  Andante cantabile

III. Minuet - Trio

IV. Finale. Allegro molto

Symphony no. 41 in C major, “Jupiter”         Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

I. Allegro vivace

II. Andante cantabile

III. Menuetto: Allegretto

IV. Molto allegro

ACAlogo.png
POAC.PNG
Hannah's Oboes.png

MusicaNova concerts are supported by generous grants or donations from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Hannah’s Oboes, John & Liz McKinnon, and Ed and Cynthia DuBrow.

 

PROGRAM NOTES

By Warren Cohen, music director

 

Haydn: Symphony no. 13 in D major

Haydn composed this symphony in 1763, early in his tenure at the court of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, during a time of excitement and expansion at the palace. The orchestra was growing, and Esterhazy made the unusual decision to hire two additional horn players instead of the normal pair of horns. This was one of the earliest symphonies to use a four-horn contingent, and it remained an unusual choice until well into the 19th century. 

The work is in four movements. The first movement is notable for its reliance on extremely simple, essentially rhythmic, figuration. The first "theme" is little more than an arpeggio, and the second "theme" is simply a syncopated scale pattern. Out of these simple materials, Haydn creates an atmosphere of tremendous energy and movement.  

The second movement is a cello solo played over a simple accompaniment in the strings. It has much in common with the slow movement of Haydn’s C major Cello Concerto, which was written about the same time. Both works were written for the excellent principal cellist at the Esterhazy court, Joseph Weigel.

 

The third movement is a minuet characterized by erratic and sudden changes of dynamics and rhythmic dislocations. It is very much in that genre of "undanceable minuets" that would be a feature of the late Haydn symphonies, but were less common in his earlier works. The trio section features a clever flute solo.


The last movement begins with a four-note motif identical to the one that opens the last movement of the Jupiter Symphony -- and like that later work, the motif becomes an important part of a contrapuntal texture.

 

Haydn's movement is much briefer and far more syncopated than Mozart's. The simpler musical language reflects the changes in music making from 1763 to 1788. The 25 years that separate these works are among the most eventful in the history of music, and much of that change involved the consolidation of new concepts of tonality and formal organization present in only nascent form in the symphonies of the 1760s.

Mozart: Symphony no. 41

By 1788, symphonies were a much more serious affair, and the Jupiter Symphony (not Mozart’s name for it!) was a prime example of the new genre. In 1763 the words "symphony" and "divertimento" could be used interchangeably, suggesting a light and amusing trifle. By the time Mozart wrote his last three symphonies in 1788, the symphony was well on its way to being thought of a title that signified a work of depth and rigor. 

 

This work begins with a simple announcement in C major. It features trumpets, instruments Haydn did not use in his work (but Mozart used only two horns). The movement strikingly features not two but three themes in the exposition, unusual for the time. Not until Anton Bruckner did any composer consistently feature a three-themed exposition, and he used it in all eleven of his symphonies. (We will perform the first of these, the Symphony in F minor, later this season). Other than the three themes, the movement is in conventional sonata form with an interesting and dramatic development section. 

In contrast to the buoyant mood of the first movement, the second movement is melancholic, although the tempo and note values suggest the music, though marked "cantabile," should move along.

 

The third movement is a conventional minuet and trio, with thematic links to the first and last movements.


The last movement, beginning with the same theme that Haydn used 25 years earlier, quickly develops into a highly contrapuntal affair, showcasing how the symphony had evolved into a serious art form. The Joseph Haydn symphony, however, was not the only "inspiration" for this movement.

 

Mozart was also familiar with brother Michael Haydn’s Symphony no. 28, which we know he studied. In the 1780s, Michael Haydn began ending his symphonies with highly contrapuntal movements. Mozart was keen to copy this model as a way around the perennial problem that a finale can easily become too much like the first movement -- and usually a less successful version of that movement. Several of the passages in the Jupiter finale are similar to the counterpoint in the finale of Michael Haydn’s 28th symphony.

 

Mozart develops the sonata form structure around six motifs. In many ways, the most interesting is the little motif that comes right after the four note "announcement" at the beginning. Unlike all the others, this figure never becomes part of a contrapuntal texture. It always acts as an announcement that "here the counterpoint ends," including, gloriously, at the end after the famous passage where the five other themes are briefly played simultaneously. That moment -- one of the most iconic passages in all of music -- has always been held up as a supreme example of compositional ingenuity and skill, and it lends power and dignity to the triumphant close. 

 

The Jupiter, composed in 1788, was Mozart’s final symphony. He died three and half years later. In December 1790 he met with Joseph Haydn for the last time, just before Haydn sailed for England to begin his triumphant first visit there. Both men apparently had a premonition that this would be their last time together, but they probably did not expect Mozart to die first. When Mozart died in December 1791, Haydn was in London working on his Symphony no. 98. He heard the news and was understandably upset. As a tribute to his friend, he quoted the Jupiter Symphony in the slow movement of the symphony, thus repaying the debt of Mozart's "borrowing" of the motif of his 13th Symphony.

 

Belkin: Viola Concerto

Notes by the composer

Having already composed concerti for violin and cello, I thought for some time about writing a concerto for viola. The opportunity to write one for Graham Cohen was a real pleasure.

 

As in any concerto, I have tried to explore the various possible relationships between the individual and the group. Sometimes the soloist leads, but sometimes he accompanies important lines in the orchestra. Sometimes the two are in confrontation, but then the mood changes and they cooperate. For me, this richness of interaction is the essence of the concerto form. 

 

Sawchyn: Finding Light

Notes by the composer

The initial idea for this piece was to create an atmospheric and emotional shift from darkness to light, hence the title “Finding Light.” It begins with static dissonant chords and longing melodies and goes through a journey not unlike coming to terms with a tragedy of some sort.

 

This storyline was interesting to create with the additional and fun challenge of using Mozart’s (originally Haydn’s) four-note motif of a rising second, a rising thirdrd, and a falling second (the technical jargon for up, up again, then down), which was presented to me by Warren Cohen as a wonderful means to tie this piece to this concert. 

 

As a result, you will hear this motif run through the different landscapes of the piece, starting out (in the trumpets) at the wrong intervals from the original, shifting through changes until it finally “finds itself,” encouraged by the emotional shift of the piece to a much brighter and joyful character.

 

It was a pleasure to write and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with MusicaNova.

 

 

MusicaNova Orchestra

Violin I

Julian Nguyen, concertmaster

  John and Elizabeth McKinnon chair

Pamela Buck

Linda Quintero

Patty Waxman

Danny Yang

 

Violin II

Spencer Ekenes, principal

   Robert Dixon chair

Lisa Eisenberg

Megyn Neff

Jamilyn Richardson

Marg Sherman

 

Viola

Mason Haskett, principal

   Dominique van de Stadt and Octavio Pajaro chair

Graham Cohen

Jill Osborne

Chino Soberano

Carolyn Snyder

 

Cello

Maria Simiz, principal

Alex Duke

Cindy Leger

Liz McKinnon

 

Bass

Sila Kuvanci, principal

Alberto Allende

 

Flute

Jeanie Pierce, principal

    Carolyn Whitaker chair

Lisa Tharp Friedeman

Oboe 

Lauren Glomb, Principal 

    Nina Gurin memorial chair 

Hannah Selznick 

    Robert & Denise Wilson chair 

 

Clarinet 

Kristin Fray, Principal 

Jeff Quamo 

 

Bassoon 

Kristilyn Woods, Principal 

John Friedeman 

 

French horn

Martha Sharpe, principal

Gail Rittenhouse

Mike Lee

Alex Austin

 

Trumpet

Chris Albrecht, principal

Stephen Martin

 

Harp

David Ice

 

Percussion/Timpani

Sonja Branch

   Leger Strategies chair

Personnel manager: Liz McKinnon

Asst. personnel manager: Jamilyn Richardson

Librarian: Spencer Ekenes

Video recording: David Ice

Audio recording: Vault Classical

bottom of page