What’s Interesting About This Concert
- No strings attached: This program celebrates orchestral music for wind and brass instruments.
- Stravinsky switched up the usual soloist-plus-full-orchestra piano concerto format, declaring: “Strings and piano, a sound scraped and a sound struck, do not sound well together; piano and winds, sounds struck and blown, do.”
- Mozart’s Gran Partita serenade is longer than any of his symphonies. It’s also the piece in the 1984 movie Amadeus that prompts Mozart’s rival Salieri to proclaim, “It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.”
DvořákSerenade for Wind Instruments
Serenade for wind instruments, cello and double bass in D minor (Czech: Serenáda pro dechové nástroje d moll), Op. 44, B. 77, is a chamber composition by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. The work is dedicated to the music critic and composer Louis Ehlert who praised the Slavonic Dances highly in the German press.
It was created in 1878, shortly after the première of the opera The Cunning Peasant, one of fifteen compositions he submitted for the Austrian State Stipendium award. The work was first heard on 17 November 1878 at a concert exclusively dedicated to Dvořák's works, with the orchestra of the Prague Provisional Theatre (Czech: Prozatímní). The composition was performed under the composer's baton.
The Serenade evokes the old-world atmosphere of musical performances on the castles of the Rococo period, where the worlds of the aristocracy and the common folk merged. It is composed in a 'Slavonic' style (shortly before the Slavonic Dances), though not quoting folksong directly; and the middle part of the second movement contains rhythms reminiscent of the furiant dance.
The work consists of four movements:
The Serenade is written for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons and for three horns. The composer later added parts for cello and double bass to enhance the force of the bass line. The double bassoon part was attached ad lib, since in Dvořák's time it was not easy to obtain this unusual instrument.
In popular culture
An excerpt from the third movement is performed by a chamber ensemble in a scene from the film Iron Jawed Angels.
- Dvořák: Serenades in E major and in D minor. Supraphon (SU 3776-2 011). (Performed by the Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble)
- Burghauser, p. 37-38
- sleevenote of the CD (SU 3776-2 011), p. 6
- Jarmil Burghauser: Antonín Dvořák. Prague: Koniasch Latin Press, 2006. ISBN 80-86791-26-2
StravinskyConcerto for Piano & Wind Instruments
It was composed four years after the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, which he wrote upon his arrival in Paris after his stay in Switzerland. These two compositions are from Stravinsky's neoclassical period, and represent a departure from the composer's previous Russian style, in which he produced works such as The Rite of Spring.
This concerto numbers among many works for piano written about the same time to be played by the composer himself. This is also true of Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra (1929), his Sonata of 1924 and his Serenade in A (1925). He kept the performance rights to himself for a number of years, wanting the engagements for playing this work for himself, as well as urgently desiring to keep "incompetent or Romantic hands" from "interpreting" the piece before undiscriminating audiences.
The concerto, as described in its name, is scored for solo piano accompanied by an ensemble of wind instruments. The instrumentation of the wind section is what would be found in a standard symphony orchestra: two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, two bassoons (second bassoon doubling contrabassoon), four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, and tuba. The work also calls for double basses (divisi in 3) and a timpano. Although combining winds and piano was unusual at the time, the form had been explored earlier in the twentieth century and would be explored later.
Stravinsky made his British radio debut in the British premiere of the work, on June 19, 1927, with the Wireless Symphony Orchestra (the fore-runner of the BBC Symphony Orchestra) conducted by his friend and champion Edward Clark.
- Michael Steinberg, The Concerto: A Listener's Guide (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-510330-0 (cloth) ISBN 0-19-513931-3 (pbk), 467.
- Igor Stravinsky, Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, revised edition 1950 (Hawkes Pocket Scores 724, London and New York: Boosey & Hawkes, 1960),[page needed]
- Lewis Foreman, Susan Foreman, London: A Musical Gazetteer[permanent dead link]
- Gareth James Thomas, The Impact of Russian Music in England 1893-1929
MozartSerenade No. 10 (Gran Partita)
The Serenade No. 10 for winds in B-flat major, K. 361/370a, is a serenade by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart scored for thirteen instruments: twelve winds and string bass. The piece was probably composed in 1781 or 1782 and is often known by the subtitle "Gran Partita", though the title is a misspelling and not in Mozart's hand. It consists of seven movements.
Some prominent authorities (Köchel, Tyson and Edge) suggest that the paper and watermarks of this work prove a composition date of 1781 or 1782. That the work was specially composed for a public concert given by Anton Stadler on March 23, 1784 is less likely, because this performance has no proven connection with the date of composition and only marks an ante quem date. The autograph of this work contains 24 leaves of paper-type 57. Four other compositions that used this paper can be securely dated to 1781. It was shown by Alan Tyson that this fact is sufficiently compelling to presume that K. 361 was composed in 1781. There is no evidence whatsoever that the 24 leaves of this paper-type that appear in the autograph of K. 361 were ever intended for anything other than K. 361, and it is clear from the pattern of paper-usage that K. 361 was the principal project for which Mozart acquired that paper-type. The documentary history also shows that there is an unequivocal reference to wind-band music in Vienna in 1781. The performance of only four movements in 1784 generated the belief that the work was composed in two stages, though this view is now rejected.
The work is scored for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 basset horns, 2 bassoons, 4 horns and double bass. In performance, the double bass is sometimes replaced by a contrabassoon. Mozart's Harmoniemusik, including K. 361, shows his interest in texture through his use of unique combinations of instruments for the era, scoring, rhythm and articulation. 
The serenade is in seven movements as follows:
- I. Largo. Molto Allegro
- II. Menuetto
- III. Adagio. Andante
- IV. Menuetto. Allegretto
- V. Romance. Adagio
- VI. Tema con variazioni. Andante
- VII. Finale. Molto Allegro
The opening movement begins with a slow introduction in B flat major in which tutti syncopated rhythms are set in opposition to solo passages for clarinet and oboe. This leads into the Allegro moderato, which is a monothematic sonata form. The first theme of the exposition opens, originally presented in B flat major in the clarinets, later returns in F major in the basset horns and oboes in a modified form as the second theme. This theme continues to be explored in the development and returns in the recapitulation, this time in B flat major both times.
The second movement is a minuet featuring two contrasting trio sections. The minuet section is in B flat major and uses all the instruments extensively. The first trio is in E-flat major and employs only the clarinets and basset horns. This section leads into a repeat of the minuet section. The second trio section is in the relative minor, G minor, and extensively uses the solo oboe, basset horn and bassoon.
Described by Goodwin as “virtually an ‘operatic’ ensemble of passionate feeling and sensuous warmth”, the third movement, marked Adagio, is in E flat major. A syncopated pulse occurs almost throughout the movement while solo lines alternate between the solo oboe, clarinet and basset horn.
The fourth movement is a second minuet; like the second movement, it has two trio sections. The fast, staccato minuet section is in B flat major. The first trio, by contrast, has fewer staccato notes and is in the parallel minor, B-flat minor. After the minuet section is repeated, the second trio is played. This section is in F major and is largely legato.
The fifth movement, labeled Romanze, returns to the slow tempo and E flat major tonality of the third movement. The movement begins and ends with an Adagio section in the tonic and in triple meter with many long notes in the melody. Contrasting with these sections is an Allegretto section between them, which is in C minor and features constant pulse in the bassoons.
The sixth movement is a set of six variations on an andante theme in B flat major. The theme is presented primarily by the solo clarinet. The variations make use of various rhythmic motives and often feature solo instruments; for example, the first variation features the solo oboe. Unlike the other variations, all of which are in B flat major, the fourth variation is in B flat minor. The last two variations are in different tempos from the rest of the movement: the fifth is marked Adagio, while the sixth is marked Allegretto. The last variation is also in triple meter, in contrast with the other variations, which are in duple meter.
The sixth movement, without variation three, was adapted by Mozart from the second movement of the Flute Quartet in C major (K. 285b).
The seventh and last movement is a rondo. The movement employs many tutti passages in which the oboes and clarinets play in unison, particularly in the rondo theme. The episodes between the returns of the theme feature a greater degree of interplay between the instruments.
References in popular culture
- In the 1984 film Amadeus, Antonio Salieri's first encounter with Mozart is at a performance of this work. Salieri has not been impressed with Mozart's boorish behavior before the performance, but as he looks at the music on the page, he describes the beauty and delight of the solo oboe's entry soon thereafter followed by the clarinet's line (in the third movement), leading him to say, “This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.” It is at this point that Salieri first questions how God could choose a vulgar man like Mozart as his voice; this question becomes a primary theme of the film.
- In How I Met Your Mother season 4, episode 2; "The Best Burger in New York", the third movement is played while Marshall praises "the best burger in New York" by saying: "Just a Burger? Just a burger. Robin, it's so much more than 'just a burger.' I mean... that first bite-oh, what heaven that first bite is. The bun, like a sesame freckled breast of an angel, resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. And then... a pickle! The most playful little pickle! Then a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce and a... a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savor so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread, Robin. This is God, speaking to us through food.", which is a spoof of the scene in the 1984 film "Amadeus" as described above.
- In the 2009 film Bright Star, the third movement is sung a capella during a dinner party. It is also used during the end credits as background music to John Keats' recitation of the poem "Ode to a Nightingale".
- In the television drama The West Wing, the third movement is played at the end of season 7, episode 4, during a recital attended by President Josiah Bartlet.
- See Leeson, 222
- Eisen, Cliff, and Stanley Sadie. "Mozart, (Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 15 Sep. 2019. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com
- Goodwin, Noel, CD liner notes for Mozart: Three Wind Serenades, Sinfonia Concertante, ASV CD COS 242
- Amadeus, Warner Bros., 1984
- "How I Met Your Mother" S04E02 "The Best Burger In New York", CBS, 2008
- Leeson, Daniel N., “A Revisit: Mozart’s Serenade for Thirteen Instruments”, K. 361 (370a), the “Gran Partitta”, in Mozart-Jarbuch, 1997 (Kassel: Bärenreiter)
- Tyson, Alan, Mozart: Studies of the Autograph Scores, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-674-58831-2.
Richard Fountain, piano