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Petroc Trelawny Petroc Trelawny | 13:17 UK Time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Photo of Paul Frankl

Radio 3's Mozart Mastermind, Paul Frankl

And so we’ve reached the final day.  I’m feeling a mixture of conflicting emotions.  I’ve resisted listening to any other music during this 12-day marathon,  and would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m looking forward to hearing something not of Mozart’s hand.

But I’ve also got a feeling of slight melancholy.  It’s a bit like a Sunday after a long holiday:  back to school tomorrow. I can’t help thinking that I’ve let Mozart into my life these 12 days,  and got close to him in a way that I’ll never be able to replicate again. It might feel a bit disloyal introducing Schreker, Elgar and Strauss tomorrow night.  What do you think -  will you take a complete break from Mozart now,  or will you have wean yourself off slowly?

The idea of The Genius of Mozart was born at the start of last year,  and for many months remained a closely guarded secret.   I think it was probably about May that editor Paul Frankl was given the task of overseeing what became akin to a  military operation. 

Negotiations immediately started with the BBC performing groups as to what they could add to the mix,  and the distinguished musicologist Cliff Eisen came on board as series consultant.  Paul came up with the brilliant idea of themed days,  covering childhood genius,  travels,  freemasonry,  1791 etc. And crucially he decided how long the event would last. Played non-stop, Mozart wrote about 180 hours,  ie 7-and-a-half days,  of music.  The 12-day broadcast schedule has allowed space for considered speech,  features like the play Amadeus and our downloadable ‘History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects’.  It’s also given a chance to contrast and compare very different performances of the great works.   As Paul told me this morning,  the season has affirmed his belief that ‘Mozart was the greatest musician who ever lived. His humanity shines through his music,’ he continues, ‘from the earliest works to the late masterpieces. Making this series has been a labour of love.’



Painting by Pietro Fabris -  Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Seaforth, 1744 - 1781, at home in Naples: concert party

Naples concert party at the home of Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Seaforth

Have you ever played that great game Six Degrees of Separation ?  I’ve just discovered a direct link between W A Mozart and Radio 3 presenter Michael Berkeley.   It comes from Tony Scotland's magisterial biography of the British composer Lennox Berkeley and his wife,  Freda, which I’m currently reading.  L Berkeley's great-great-great grandfather (add an extra great for Michael) actually made music with Mozart: Kenneth, Viscount Fortrose was a composer himself,  who met Mozart in Naples.

Lord Fortrose was living in Italy with a brilliant circle gathered around him,  including the music historian Charles Burney.  According to another member of the group,  traveller Patrick Brydone,  a typical day ‘began with nude seabathing,  then 'an English breakfast',  followed by 'a delightful little concert'.  Pietro Fabris's painting from the time (see right) is now in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  It shows Lord Fortrose presiding over a concert party,  with the diplomat William Hamilton playing viola,  the composer Gaetano Pugnani, violin,  and 'none other than the visiting Mozart's providing keyboard accompaniment,  Wolfgang  then 14, at the octave spinet,  his father Leopold at the harpsichord. Fortrose's balletic stance (copied by one of his dogs) suggests he may have been conducting.'   So Michael Berkeley’s great-great-great-great-grandfather conducted Mozart.  That’s rather impressive.

I played Mozart’s 40th Symphony last night conducted by Leonard Bernstein.  Earlier in the day my producer mentioned a lecture Bernstein gave at Harvard on  the work,  which I found myself devouring before the broadcast.  Did the television age ever produce a better speaker on music ?  You can view it on YouTube and it’s well worth watching.  It’s in several chunks,  but start here, and you’ll find an exciting performance in the TV studio as well. 

If you are reading this on Wednesday,  don’t forget Cliff Eisen joins Suzy Klein and me in the studio at 7pm tonight to take your calls on Mozart.  Email questions now to mailto:performanceon3@bbc.co.uk   or call us after six  on 03700 100 444 (local call rates apply).   

Read an article by Prof. Peter Branscombe entitled Mozart, the arch-Englishman



  • Comment number 1.

    Petroc, you have described in words exactly how I am feeling about The Twelfth Day of Mozart. A mixture of great sadness that it must come to an end but a privilege to have felt part of something very special. Thank you Paul Frankl.

  • Comment number 2.

    I just want to thank everyone involved in "The Genius of Mozart" - it has been a revelation to hear so many little known pieces, as well as so many wonderful recordings and performances of the more well-known works. When I could, I have also listened with joy to all the accounts of Mozart's life, the readings of his letters and the feelings of the performers. This afternoon I was in tears listening to the Lachryomosa from his Requiem, perhaps also because it is the last day ... So once more, thank you again Radio 3, and THANK YOU MOZART! I will miss you so much.

  • Comment number 3.

    Credit where credit is due. The answer to the firs question was given in very sympathetic detail in Jane Glover's excellent insights very early in hte series. But a daresay that very few listeners will have been able to listen continuously!

  • Comment number 4.

    Brilliant. Thank you so much for this. It has been a real pleasure, waking up with Mozart and hearing him last thing at night. The radio has not been off these last twelve days. The sense of well being and general pleasure one feels from listening to Mozart has been a real tonic on these winter days. Christmas has been extended. I shall feel a little sad tomorrow, returning to the real world. God bless Wolfgang. Thank you, all at Radio Three.

  • Comment number 5.

    I want to thank every single person, from planner, go-fer, presenters and artists - everybody - for a fantastic 12 day experience. Having just bought new hearing aids at the cost of a very good second hand car, I have heard my life-long joy of listening to Mozart in the very best circumstances for me. I can't thank you enough. But tomorrow is cold turkey; I am not looking forward to that. But the boys and girls from 7 a.m. onwards will be doing their stuff again, thank goodness. I love them all.

  • Comment number 6.

    Most indulgences have their drawbacks but, apart from my being totally uninformed about what's been happening in the real world, the Genius of Mozart had none. 12 days of pure pleasure.
    The music not only moved me deeply, but the talks, comments, reading of his letters and the objects associated with Mozart gave me a much wider picture of his historical context.
    Friends rushed home for the next programme, others had their radios on all night for the first time and I got a real sense of community through a shared love of Mozart from the many listeners who emailed or phoned. Thank you for a unique experience. Just wish it was on i-player for longer.

  • Comment number 7.

    Do I have to comply? The campaign may have been welcomed by enthusiasts but what about the rest of us who listen to radio 3 because of its ever changing eclectic mix of genres which competitor(?s) have no hope of matching. The danger is is in that in the interest of satisfying the vocal focussed few you forget the silent majority. But no doubt you have the statistics. The results of a properly randomised opinion poll would be most interesting.
    regards Peter.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hurrah - it's over! \o/

  • Comment number 9.

    Mozart - an incredible journey!
    Each of these single composer events has been very special but this one has been the most special of all. It's been a fascinating journey altogether and wonderful to hear listeners own stories too. Great to hear Clifford Curzon (my own favourite Mozart pianist)and the Amadeus quartet who I saw on numerous occasions in the 70s.
    Already feeling withdrawal symptoms but then Mozart lives on under one's skin for always.
    Thank you Radio 3 for your inspired ideas.
    Now back to the world again!

  • Comment number 10.

    It has been a very great achievement these 12 Mozart days, and everyone involved should be very proud and give themselves a well deserved pat on the back. I have listened throughout, in a majority of days to all, and for the rest dipping in and out. It was an important expression of Mozart and what his music means, in the personal context of himself. It brought together the man and the music, and in order to fully appreciate his music that is essential. There were things which annoyed me and which should be considered as part of the learning experience for future events of this kind, and there must be more events of this kind; but then, line up six people and you will get 12 opinions about this I have no doubt. There certainly was too much repetition, but then most probably weren't listening as much as I was; I am all in favour of comparative repetition, and there was this and it worked well, but not always. I would have liked more explanatory and comparative discussion although the guests involved were always interesting and had important things to say. Some were historically brilliant, as was Mitsuko Uchida, from whom I could have heard a whole day. But my biggest disappointment was in fact the way it was carved up into themed days...this did not work, and was as a result one of the major culprits for non comparative repetition.It might have worked academically, but not in radio terms. In future, let the broadcasting head and mind and heart rule the composition of the output rather than be too closely advised by non broadcasting experts. I am sure R3 has all the expertise it needs for such an event have the confidence to let it do its own thing in its own way....treat it as a broadcast festival with all that implies.

    Having said all that, nothing can take away from the magnificence of the achievement. Congratulations to all. Here's to the next one!
    ps on a very personal level, taking nothing away from my praise,I hated the Americanisation of Köchel and the awful repetition of the jingle.

  • Comment number 11.

    The 12 days of Mozart was pure joy.
    For those few days the usual problem of making a dash for the off button as yet another 'tune'more suitable for radio 2 than radio 3
    came my way, was gone.
    Given the success of the Mozart celebration, how about following it up with a policy to play genuine classical music (by this I mean baroque,classical,early music, romantic music)rather than 'classic'music
    ( i.e. show music such as Rogers & Hammerstien, Cole Porter) and similar stuff more suited to light entertainment - that should be the job of radio 2.
    Another 12 days of Mozart please!

  • Comment number 12.

    Thank goodness that's over. Can the BBC please refrain from doing the same with some other composer. Some of us (I suspect a majority)just want Radio3 to provide as peteredelsten says an "ever changing eclectic mix of genres". No composer however brilliant warrants this kind of overkill of their works.


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