Last lap - and you can get in on the show ...
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.’
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:firstname.lastname@example.org or call us after six on 03700 100 444 (local call rates apply).