For the past several months, our Chancel Choir has been preparing for this Sunday evening’s concert of music by Mozart. I think that our choir would agree that Mozart’s music is a joy to rehearse, even the parts that are difficult or time-consuming to learn. Why? In the words of Aaron Copland, “Mozart tapped the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness.” The task of perfecting our skills as we approach a performance of Mozart’s music fits in with our own search for a “breathtaking rightness.”
Oh, let’s get back to those three numbers:
#19 – – – Mozart composed the “Sparrow Mass,” K. 220 when he was 19 years old. It is a remarkably mature sounding work nonetheless. The cheerful, humorous bits, such as the chirping sounds of the violins in the Sanctus are less a sign of Mozart’s youth than a hallmark of the cheerfulness that marked so much of his music throughout his albeit short life.
#25 – – – Mozart composed his Church Sonata in C major, K. 336 and his Solemn Vespers, K. 339 in 1780 at the age of 25. The church sonatas were meant to be played between the reading of the Epistle and Gospel. Most of the church sonatas were written for organ and strings (including K. 336), but a few of them included wind instruments and timpani. The Solemn Vespers was the last choral work that Mozart composed for use at Salzburg Cathedral, and place where he came to feel underappreciated and oppressed under the reign of Archbishop Collerado. Mozart’s request to leave the archbishop’s entourage ended with an unceremonious departure, with very little grace displayed by “His Grace.”
#35 – – – This is the age at which Mozart composed the motet, Ave verum corpus, K. 618, one of the most beautiful and beloved choral works of all time. It is ironic that the last notes penned by some of the great composers are the most simple and yet the most profound parts of their artistic legacies. This motet is dated June 17, 1791. Mozart would leave this world later that year on December 5.
As Tchaikovsky has written, “Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music.” The Chancel Choir, the orchestra, and I extend you a warm invitation to attend Sunday’s concert all-Mozart, which will consist of the works mentioned above. Enjoy the beauty of musical creation and re-creation here at River Road.