Among the forgotten but highly popular operas of the late 18th century, Der dumme Gärtner aus dem Gebürge, oder, Die zween Anton (The dumb gardener from the mountains, or, The two Antons ) seems particularly worthy of reexamination.
The Antons (as Mozart called it) was the subject of much commentary and praise; it was performed in almost every German theater over the next two decades, and it was translated into Czech. The success of the opera inspired six sequels and secured the place of its author, Emanuel Schikaneder, in the popular imagination of the Viennese public. This success also made possible the series of fairy-tale operas that included Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (1791).
Die zween Anton was also the first original opera by Schikaneder produced at the Theater auf der Wieden after he had taken over its direction; the music was a collaborative composition by Franz Xaver Gerl, Benedikt Schack, Johann Baptist Henneberg, and probably Schikaneder himself. With the recent recovery of a Viennese manuscript copy of Die zween Anton in the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg we can now investigate this opera in detail.
A new critical edition, drawing on this new source, has recently been issued as Two operas from the series Die zween Anton. Part 1: Der dumme Gärtner aus dem Gebürge, oder, Die zween Anton (Middleton: A-R Editions, 2015).
Above, a portrait of Schikaneder (click to enlarge); below, the opera’s overture.
In the opening duet of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Figaro makes Freudian errors in counting and in singing. Susanna, needing emotional support and sensitive to Figaro’s psychology, directs his therapy in a manner both manipulative and helpful.
The brief scene is paradigmatic for the opera as a whole, and the duet’s dramatic action is projected by the music at every level, from small details to aspects of global structure.
This according to “Figaro’s mistakes” by David Lewin (Current musicology 57 [spring 1995] pp. 45–60).
Le nozze di Figaro is 230 years old this year! Above, Lydia Teuscher and Vito Priante as Susanna and Figaro; below, the scene in question.
Returning from Palermo to London in 1800 Lady Hamilton, the poet Cornelia Knight, the ambassador Sir William Hamilton, and Lord Nelson stopped on the way for a visit to Eisenstadt.
From 6 to 10 September the entourage was hosted by Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy with receptions, dances, and concerts in their honor. Haydn organized a performance of his Te Deum and Nelson Mass (Missa in Angustiis), and composed Lines from the Battle of the Nile, to a text by Ms. Knight, for Emma Hamilton.
Hamilton repeated the cantata in Prague on 8 October, and in 1801 the work was published there with the dedication “The music composed and dedicated to Lady Hamilton.”
This according to “Eternal praise! Joseph Haydn komponiert für Lady Hamilton/Eternal Praise! Joseph Haydn compone per Lady Hamilton” by Dieter Richter, an essay included in Lady Hamilton: Eros und Attitüde–Schönheitskult und Antikenrezeption in der Goethezeit/Eros e attitude–Culto della bellezza e antichità classica nell’epoca di Goethe (Petersburg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2015, pp. 54–56).
Above, Lady Hamilton in a ca. 1782 portrait by George Romney; below, Emma Kirkby sings Lines from the Battle of the Nile.
Beethoven was known for his unwillingness to show subservience to the aristocracy, but sometimes others might do it for him, as when his friend and occasional librettist Aloys Weißenbach tried— without the composer’s knowledge and without success—to wangle him an Order of Merit from King Maximilian I of Bavaria. When Breitkopf & Härtel issued his 1811 Chorphantasie, op. 80, with an inscription to King Max, Beethoven wrote in protest:
“To what in Heaven’s name do I owe the dedication to the King of Bavaria? Explain it to me immediately. If you meant it as an honorable gift to me, then I want to thank you; for the rest, such a thing does not suit me at all. Did you dedicate the work yourself, personally, perhaps? How does this fit together? One cannot with impunity start dedicating things to kings.”
This according to “Ludwig van Beethoven: Verhinderter Träger eines bayerischen Verdienstordens” by Robert Münster (Musik in Bayern 73 [2007–2008] pp. 207–14).
Many thanks to David Bloom for bringing this to our attention and translating Beethoven’s letter! Above, Maximilian I; below, the Chorphantasie.
Arias for Stefano Mandini: Mozart’s first Count Almaviva (Middleton: A-R Editions. 2015) presents 13 arias that portray the voice of Stefano Mandini, who created the role of Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 1786.
Dating from the peak of Mandini’s career in the 1780s, the arias were composed by Giuseppe Sarti, Giovanni Paisiello, Giuseppe Gazzaniga, Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi, Antonio Salieri, and Vicente Martín y Soler. Taken together, they show a versatile singer who sang serious and comical roles in both tenor and baritone ranges.
The arias are presented in the form of vocal scores, some taken from 18th-century editions and some made from orchestral scores. The edition and commentary are by Dorothea Link.
Below, Alessandro Safina sings Saper bramate from Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (1782), one of the arias included in the collection.
Rovereto claims the distinction of being both the first stop in the series of trips that Mozart undertook in Italy—he arrived with his father on Christmas Eve in 1769—and the first city to erect a monument in Mozart’s honor.
The monument was designed by Giuseppe Antonio Bridi (1763–1836), a banker who had befriended Mozart and was passionate about music. Bridi’s relationship with Mozart and his family continued until his death, including a regular correspondence with Constanze that was carried out until 1833. The monument was erected in 1825 at Bridi’s villa in the suburbs of Rovereto.
This according to “Sulla via del ritorno: Il primo monumento alla gloria di Mozart” by Renato Lunelli, an essay included in Mozart in Italia: I viaggi, le lettere (Milano: Ricordi, 1956); the volume was issued to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Today is Mozart’s 260th birthday! Below, the symphony K.112, composed during his first Italian sojurn.
Beethoven’s last piano sonatas: An edition with elucidation (Oxford University Press, 2015) is the first English-language edition and translation of Heinrich Schenker’s landmark editions of Beethoven’s opp. 109, 110, 111, and 101 (Wien: Universal Edition, 1913).
Each of the four volumes incorporates references to corrections and other remarks entered by Schenker in his personal copies of the sonatas, many of which have not been presented in any of the previous German editions of the works.
Also included are supplements to the original text with explanations of certain points in the commentary and graphic presentations of several passages.
Below, Svâtoslav Rihter performs the op. 101 sonata.
The Inventur und Schätzung der Joseph Haydnischen Kunstsachen of 1809 is preserved in the Musiksammlung of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.
One of the items listed therein is a living parrot, which used to call Haydn by his name and could sing the beginning of the national anthem. The parrot was sold for 1415 florins.
This according to “Haydn als Sammler” by Otto Erich Deutsch, an article included in Zum Haydn-Jahr 1959 (Österreichische Musikzeitschrift XIV/5–6 [May–June 1959] pp. 188–194).
Below, perhaps a descendant.
Mozart: New documents is a collaborative project for the digital publication of new Mozart documents discovered since 1997, the date of the second supplement (the Neue Folge) to Otto Erich Deutsch’s Mozart: Die Dokumente seines Lebens (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1961). This website is intended as an open working draft, and the editors welcome contributions and feedback from readers, who will receive explicit credit and acknowledgment.
Digital publication allows rolling out the content of the site over a period of months; it initially included 37 documents with commentaries, and at least 70 were scheduled to be added over the ensuing months. By the time the site is completed, it will include well over 100 new documents and addenda, and research is still ongoing.
When the site has reached a point of relative stability, it will be moved to a more permanent home with an institutional base; options for the print publication of some or all of the documents and commentaries on this site are under consideration.
Below, a recent contribution to Mozart documentation.
Wayne Leupold Editions launched the series The contrapuntal tradition in 2013 with Organ works by David Traugott Nicolai, edited by William A. Little.
An organist and composer, Nicolai (1733–99) studied music under his father, who had been a pupil of Bach. From 1758 he assisted his father and in 1764 succeeded him as organist of the Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul in Görlitz; in 1775 he became electoral court organist. In his time he was considered one of the greatest living organ players, and was respected as an improviser as well as an expert in organ building.
Below, Brink Bush plays the Fantasie in G, one of the works included in the edition.