Concert Notes: Mozart/Salieri

MCO’s Mozart/Salieri can be heard on Thursday 21 July 7:30pm and Sunday 24 July 2:30pm at Melbourne Recital Centre.


Antonio Salieri (1750–1825)
Don Chisciotte: Overture


WA Mozart (1756–1791)
Piano Concerto in E flat major K271 Jeunehomme
I. Allegro
II. Andantino
III. Rondeau. Presto


Louisa Trewartha
Anderson’s Kew for double bass and string orchestra


Antonio Salieri (1750–1825)
Sinfonia in D major La Veneziana
I. Allegro assai
II. Andantino grazioso
III. Presto


WA Mozart (1756–1791)
Symphony No 28 in C major K200
I. Allegro spiritoso
II. Andante
III. Menuetto e Trio
IV. Presto

Antonio Salieri (1750–1825) was born in Legnago near Venice but spent most of his working life in Vienna. In the mid-1760s he became a student of the Viennese composer Florian Leopold Gassmann while the composer was in Venice; when Gassmann returned to Vienna Salieri continued his studies with him there. Salieri subsequently made a significant contribution to the music life of Vienna from 1770 to 1820, and in his official court positions he wielded considerable influence. His students, among others, included Beethoven, Schubert, Czerny, Hummel, Liszt, Moscheles and Meyerbeer.
Salieri wrote some 45 operas that were performed predominantly in Italy and Paris. Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamace (Don Quixote at Camacho’s Wedding) was composed in 1770 and first performed during the Carnival in early 1771 in Vienna. After this performance the work was not revived again until a few years ago. It is an opera in one act with five scenes. The work was described as a divertimento teatrale and is a combination of an opera buffa and ballet. This is demonstrated in the Overture where the changes of mood and character are conveyed through the contrasting sections with a sense of the dance throughout.

Salieri’s Sinfonia in D major La Veneziana is a three-movement work assembled from two of his other works. The first movement is from the overture to La scuola de’ gelosi (The School for Jealousy) and the other two movements are from La partenza inaspettata (The Unexpected Departure) forming the three-movement sinfonia. The three movements follow the fast-slow-fast pattern and the work is scored for two oboes, two horns and strings. It has been described as quintessentially Italian in style with a lovely, spirted character.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) composed piano concertos and symphonies throughout his life, at times composing them in fast succession.
The Piano Concerto No 9 in E flat major K271 was composed in Salzburg in January 1777 and Mozart presented its first performance in October that year. This was his first piano concerto to be published (around 1780).
The title Jeunehomme is probably an ambiguous reference to the pianist Louise Victoire Jenamy, the daughter of the famous ballet master Jean Georges Noverre who was working in Salzburg at the time.
Cliff Eisen and Stanley Sadie in Grove Online talk of the “scale, mastery of design, virtuosity, elements of surprise … and exploitation of the most profound affects …[that] far exceed his earlier orchestral music”. This works marks a dramatic shift in Mozart’s style and compositional direction.

The Allegro is in sonata form with the soloist interrupting the opening exposition. There is sheer technical display with the ongoing dialogue between the piano and orchestra. The mournful and bittersweet Andantino is like a da capo aria and is operatic in quality with remarkable embellishments. The Presto finale returns to the mood and spirt of the opening movement. The main theme of the Rondeau has the feel of a folk dance with the episodes providing great contrasts of tempo and character.
Mozart composed Symphony No 28 in C major in the period around 1773/1774 in Salzburg; it probably followed the completion of Symphonies 29 and 30.

Written in four movements, the Allegro spiritoso opens with a unison statement before the character changes and the fun begins. There is a great sense of joyful excitement and frivolity throughout.
The aria-like Andante main theme features muted strings with wind highlights. The elegant Menuet with the contrasting trio features the oboes and horns.
The Presto is in sonata form. Roger Dettmer talked of the masterly craftsmanship where “the violins’ trilled main-theme, like the whir of hummingbird wings, is the principal subject of both the development and a brief coda, wherein oboes double the trills – thrills in fact, given the challenge of Mozart’s vivacious tempo.”
This program of music of the 1770s featuring Salieri and Mozart could not pass without a note on the relationship between the two composers. A good start to the discussion is Richard Taruskin’s article in Grove Online on Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1879 opera Mozart and Salieri [Motsart i Sal’yeri]. The opera uses the text by Alexander Pushkin about which Taruskin talks of “Pushkin’s terse duodrama, depicting the Romantic legend of Mozart’s death at the hands of an envious rival”. The first performance of the opera had Vasily Shkafer as Mozart, Fyodor Shalyapin as Salieri and Sergey Rakhmaninov as the pianist.
Some of this drama and legend was taken up by Peter Shaffer in his 1979 play Amadeus, and later Miloš Forman’s film adaptation in 1984.
While there may have been some antipathy between the composers both held each other in mutual respect. Throughout his life, Mozart is said to have aspired to the security of the Imperial Court positions held by Salieri.
Notes: David Forrest
Louisa Trewartha leads a diverse musical career as a composer, trumpet player, and educator.
Louisa completed a Masters in Scoring for Film and Visual Media in 2016 at Pulse College, Dublin, and in 2017 participated in the Australian Composers School with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. She has since been commissioned to write larger ensemble works for groups such as Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, The Regional Centre for Culture, and The Mid America Freedom Band, and chamber works for Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Solstice Trio, Duo Eclettico, and Three Shades Black. As a music educator Louisa has tutored with the Australian Youth Orchestra, Melbourne Youth Orchestras, Young Mannheim Symphonists, and the Orchestra Victoria mOVe program. She has been the Musical Director of the A-grade brass band Footscray-Yarraville City Band since 2019. Louisa is a private trumpet teacher and has adjudicated at numerous competitions.

Anderson’s Kew celebrates the adventurous and brave spirit of Alice Anderson, who in 1919 aged just 22 opened Australia’s first all-female car garage based in Kew, Melbourne. The business offered gas pumping, car servicing, a driving school, and a 24-hour chauffeur service. Anderson, who quite unusually for the time had been taught to drive by her father, set out to empower other women by teaching them to drive and fix their own cars.
Alice loved adventure, and took clients on trips through Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, and even took a holiday travelling through the desert in a baby Austin to Alice Springs.

The apprentices at the garage were known for their ‘boyish’ haircuts and masculine outfits: a look that had become more acceptable in the post-war ‘roaring twenties’. Under the leadership of Alice, the women became known for their exceptional expertise and service. Many people in this era did not openly identify as gay for fear of social exclusion and violence, which may have been the case for Alice. However, many of her friends and acquaintances were openly gay, and were provided a safe place at the garage. Alice’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 29, found shot to death at her garage under circumstances that have never been solved. As somewhat of a national celebrity at the time, she was much mourned.


[Reference: A Spanner in the Works, by Loretta Smith]