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Serenade for Wind Octet in E flat K.375

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)

Composer
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)
Composition Year
1781-2
Work Movements
1. Allegro maestoso
2. Menuet I - Moderato
3. Adagio
4. Menuet II - Allegro
5. Allegro
Artists
Peter Whelan [bassoon], Amy Harmon [bassoon], Susanne Schmid [Horn], Hervé Joulain [horn], Christoffer Sundqvist [clarinet], Armel Descottes [Oboe], Olivier Doise [Oboe], Mathias Kjøller [clarinet]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

It surprises me that a man as flawed as I am, both mentally and morally, can still take such a delight in Mozart, who lacks the depth and force of Beethoven, the warmth and passion of Schumann, the brilliance of Meyerbeer and Berlioz. Mozart does not overwhelm me, nor take my breath away, but he does enslave me, makes me feel good, fills me with warmth. When I listen to his music, it makes me feel virtuous. The older I grow, and the better I get to know him, the more I love him.


Probably everyone attending today’s concert can sympathise with some of Tchaikovsky's sentiments while taking issue with his other assertions. Mozart's Wind Serenades definitely have a high feel-good factor; it is hard to listen to this sensually extravagant music without some manifestation of pure delight. Even Mozart was delighted by it - some inspired friend of the composer hired six wind players to serenade Mozart with his own work on his birthday.


At night, at 11 o'clock, I was treated to a serenade of 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons, which as it so happens was my own composition. I had composed it for St Theresia's Day, for the sister-in-law of the court painter Herr von Hickel, at whose house it was actually performed for the first time. The 6 gentlemen who performed it are poor devils who, however, played quite well together, particularly the first clarinettist and the two horn players. The main reason why I had written the serenade was to give Herr von Strack [Emperor Joseph's personal valet], who visits there daily, a chance to hear something that I had composed; for that very reason I had put a little extra care into the composition - and indeed it was very much applauded. During St Theresia's Night it was performed at three different locations - they had no sooner finished playing in one place than they were asked to play it somewhere else - and for money too. At any rate these night musicians had asked for the doors to be opened and, after positioning themselves in the courtyard, they surprised me, just as I was getting undressed, most agreeably with the opening chord of E-flat…[Letter to his father from Vienna, November 3 1781].


As Mozart’s letter makes clear, the original version of K.375 was a sextet; the octet version was written the following year in the hope of catching the ear of the Emperor, who had installed a wind octet to play for him at dinner. Unfortunately for Mozart the Emperor was more interested in transcriptions of opera arias than original works of genius.

Francis Humphrys

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Serenade for Wind Octet in E flat K.375

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)
Performance date: Saturday 8th July 2017
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)
Work Title Serenade for Wind Octet in E flat K.375
Composition Year 1781-2
Work Movements 1. Allegro maestoso
2. Menuet I - Moderato
3. Adagio
4. Menuet II - Allegro
5. Allegro
Artist(s) Peter Whelan [bassoon], Amy Harmon [bassoon], Susanne Schmid [Horn], Hervé Joulain [horn], Christoffer Sundqvist [clarinet], Armel Descottes [Oboe], Olivier Doise [Oboe], Mathias Kjøller [clarinet]
Performance Date Saturday 8th July 2017
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:25:46
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Small Mixed Ensemble
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

It surprises me that a man as flawed as I am, both mentally and morally, can still take such a delight in Mozart, who lacks the depth and force of Beethoven, the warmth and passion of Schumann, the brilliance of Meyerbeer and Berlioz. Mozart does not overwhelm me, nor take my breath away, but he does enslave me, makes me feel good, fills me with warmth. When I listen to his music, it makes me feel virtuous. The older I grow, and the better I get to know him, the more I love him.


Probably everyone attending today’s concert can sympathise with some of Tchaikovsky's sentiments while taking issue with his other assertions. Mozart's Wind Serenades definitely have a high feel-good factor; it is hard to listen to this sensually extravagant music without some manifestation of pure delight. Even Mozart was delighted by it - some inspired friend of the composer hired six wind players to serenade Mozart with his own work on his birthday.


At night, at 11 o'clock, I was treated to a serenade of 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons, which as it so happens was my own composition. I had composed it for St Theresia's Day, for the sister-in-law of the court painter Herr von Hickel, at whose house it was actually performed for the first time. The 6 gentlemen who performed it are poor devils who, however, played quite well together, particularly the first clarinettist and the two horn players. The main reason why I had written the serenade was to give Herr von Strack [Emperor Joseph's personal valet], who visits there daily, a chance to hear something that I had composed; for that very reason I had put a little extra care into the composition - and indeed it was very much applauded. During St Theresia's Night it was performed at three different locations - they had no sooner finished playing in one place than they were asked to play it somewhere else - and for money too. At any rate these night musicians had asked for the doors to be opened and, after positioning themselves in the courtyard, they surprised me, just as I was getting undressed, most agreeably with the opening chord of E-flat…[Letter to his father from Vienna, November 3 1781].


As Mozart’s letter makes clear, the original version of K.375 was a sextet; the octet version was written the following year in the hope of catching the ear of the Emperor, who had installed a wind octet to play for him at dinner. Unfortunately for Mozart the Emperor was more interested in transcriptions of opera arias than original works of genius.

Francis Humphrys