Good morning everyone. Warm welcome in this year’s opening presentation in our series Understanding Music.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, This year our program and the themes of the concerts will be focused on the titles of some literary works, e.g. Angles and Demons, Heaven and Earth, War and Peace, Now and Forever. Let me tell those who are susceptible to literature that they shouldn’t be hoping and not even worrying, as the presentations will have nothing to do with the literary works. Actually, we tend to come up with such titles as I have a leaning towards uniform title mechanisms. Can you still remember the titles of the presentations like “incomplete and incompletable”, the phrases with other privatives, or any other refined titles? The title of this presentation and concert might be the most appropriate of all, as today we’ll also get closer to our theme from the aspect of a literary work. Under the title Mozart and Salieri Pushkin wrote a drama in altogether two short scenes, and Rimsky-Korsakov adapted that into a rather rarely played small opera. Regarding the theme, this piece elaborates two equally successful (in their age) composers’, Mozart’s and Salieri’s presumed or actual conflict. The curiosity in this piece is that Salieri poisons Mozart. Quite many of you must know the film Amadeus. With a musician’s eyes it’s the most genial film that could ever be made of an artist; and here the focus is not mainly on Mozart’s life but his art. All the wealth the film phrased in its own language led and could lead even us, musicians to miraculous recognitions. But what is the film, and to some extent the Pushkin drama, actually about? It’s about relationship between ordinariness and geniality. Well, this is of course a bit more complicated topic than you would first think. We in the 20th century have a wholly different understanding of geniality than our ancestors had beforehand. No genius without really being understood in his own age could actually exist in cultural history. So it isn’t at all true, in this sense of the word, that the genii were rather frequently not understood. Neither Leonardo nor Michelangelo, neither Bach nor Mendelssohn or Mozart were artists who in their age were not considered real genii.
The subsequent development of this approach was the consequence of a consumers’ mechanism in civil society. Basically, consumers’ logic is not open to innovation. Consequently, consumption affecting the economic sphere created the notion of marketing for itself, which convinces the consumers of the importance and indispensability of novelties. So in simple terms, just to give you a recent example, we have to be somehow persuaded not to be using the same, usual toothpaste day by day but something new, because that will make our teeth 63% whiter. However, art is not suitable for, nor capable of this. This evolves the notion of non-understood genius in the 19th and 20th centuries. I believe you prefer coming and listening to Mozart’s piece, as you’ve heard it a lot of times and you know what to expect, to listening let’s say to János Kukutyin’s latest symphony, as you might not even have a clue to who he is and what music he’s composing. Poor János Kukutyin has two options. He can either say that no one’s interested in or cares about his music, and then he can quit his profession or try to compose some music that might arouse the interest of the audience. The other option is that I’m a genius and I’m not understood. Some genuinely marvellous mechanism accompanied this approach in the 20th century. There are some genius boxes in theatres where composers would only let in one another; and although nobody’s actually concerned about them, still, they profoundly contempt the composers who more than one would listen to. You can misinterpret this if you like, or just the other way round. But naturally, real genii always exist, just as there’re always some toothpastes that would not make a hit though they’re better than the others. The novelty here is that posterity will decide who a genius was. So now in our age we have a totally different approach: we let the posterity judge the best of our age.
We, ordinary people might still have a leaning towards the simple, which is quite a different issue. Our consumer’s approach created the notion of audience demand in culture, too, and it also generated the notion of art in the service of audience demand.
Just consider: one of the most significant squalors manifested in our most recent cultural mask is the soap opera. Going back to my childhood, I can still remember the Szabó’s that we were all excited to listen to in the radio week after week, and the series Neighbours in the ‘80s. The topicality of the story, the situations that led the viewers recognize some cases, the existence of genuine artistic tools in the storyline and dramaturgy created a new (though still within the borders of art) genre which gained immense popularity. The significant difference in today’s soap opera, compared to these plays, is commercialization which, given its virtual reality, works as a cultural drug and does not even tend to touch arts, as the only goal is financial profit.
Meeting the demand of the audience has also existed in music history from the very moment the institution of concert and opera came into existence. Even Händel’s opera was overshadowed by since forgotten composers. Or in Amadeus there is a superbly effective moment when the benchmark for the public audience, embodied in Joseph II, is Salieri, while Mozart’s art remains incomprehensible.
So this has always existed in music history. But don’t ever forget something, and I’m now emphasizing this for our own sake: there is a need for us, the ordinary people. No art, no society, nothing can exist without the ordinary rank. But where the borderlines of ordinariness are, in how big a field we can call this value and how we can call it deficiency is yet another issue. Still, don’t ever be afraid of considering yourself an ordinary man, because ordinariness means you know and do a lot, you create values, even if you don’t stand out against the mass.
Salieri was more popular than Mozart, from a certain point of view. What’s more, powers and political mechanisms have always been phenomena that don’t necessarily award performance – this is not a 20th century invention, either. Actually, Mozart was a plain nobody compared to Salieri who was a court composer. Mozart would also have loved to be a court composer but he couldn’t be, at least not in Vienna. Everyone was aware of the difference between them, naturally including themselves. Amadeus is a really genial film as it gives an excellent insight into Mozart’s awareness of his geniality, and we can be certain that Salieri must also have recognized that he, unfortunately, didn’t come up to what Mozart knew. Just to show this to you expressively, I’ll do some evil (now I frankly confess) against Salieri. After quite a long search I managed to find a not very good piece from Salieri. I did so intentionally. I could actually show you some Salieri piece that you would take delight in listening to, while leaning back, and you would calmly claim it to be a composition by perhaps Mozart or Haydn. To be frank, I could even show you some Beethoven piece which is indeed bad. But this can apply to great many composers who can nevertheless be genii. All in all, I was nasty enough to look for a not really good piece by Salieri. I’d only like to prove how much a commonplace can remain commonplace and how such a commonplace can still do wonders. I’ve chosen Salieri’s Tempest of the Sea [La tempesta di mare] which shouldn’t be mistaken for Vivaldi’s identically titled piece that in turn is a superb work. Salieri’s Tempest of the Sea would also be a highly exciting and entertaining work if, to Salieri’s misfortune, he were not compared to Mozart today.
One of the strongest coacting forces in classical music is the triad. The triad which, strictly taken, is a natural phenomenon. As I’ve shown you so many times, the chime of the root and the tones within it produce harmony, the starting and, simultaneously, ending point in music. Let’s play Salieri’s piece from the 8th beat.
Well, this was not a very-very great idea. He evidently contraposed the loud and the quiet, but the identical repetition of the broken-up triad doesn’t leave a deep imprint in us. Opposite Mozart who immediately uses two broken-up triads to play a question and answer game, which promptly creates an expectation to see what would happen after. Mozart also happened to compose a wholly banal triad in one of his most popular pieces, A Little Night Music. Let’s play a part of it now.
See?! This was similarly a simple triad, yet a bit different, wasn’t it? And there you are, something has actually happened. Do you think you would be humming the Salieri piece during lunch if we played it a hundred times? Certainly not.
Yet another essential basis underlying the approach to classical music is the colour of tonality. The colour of tonality means a comparison; it means we start from somewhere and the goal is to get back there. Whether you believe or not, you couldn’t go home either unless you heard the same tone in the end as in the very beginning. One of the tools of this tonality is the above-mentioned triad which in facts leads us to feeling the major or minor tonality, whereas the other is when the tones of the specific tonality are sounded successively, which is called the scale.
Now we’ll show you this. Let’s play the Salieri piece from the 29th beat. What you hear is nothing else but a scale sequence.
This was an indeed exciting scale sequence, as it’s about storm. The scale sequence is also present in Mozart’s symphony, but we’ll show you now that it’s similarly a bit different. The flute and the oboe will play us the 24th beat from the first movement.
But why is it different? For the same reason as why Mozart was similarly different in the triad. Salieri is repeating the same, in a simplified form: the effect is exciting but musically nothing’s actually happening. On the other hand, Mozart immediately contraposes the two scale sequences with each other, which now again connotes question and answer. And then, as you’ll see, he raises yet another question to the question, so he makes us curious and interested again.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Now we’ll play you the Salieri piece. The contemporary audience was raging out of delight for an opera beginning so, with such a storm. Still, if you have the feeling that Salieri was a bit mean in his tools, you’re right. This is ordinariness. Naturally, Salieri’s composition is thrilling, still, he’s dreadfully plain in his tools and structures. What’s more, let’s not forget that the storm scene was quite fashionable in those days, it was added to a lot of operas. (For instance the storm scene is not the most successful part of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Storm in this age didn’t yet have a dramaturgical function in most operas, however, it was quite popular among the audience. Verdi’s Othello also starts with a storm, not an ordinary storm, but Verdi raised it to a genuine dramaturgical tool.) Let’s listen to Salieri’s Storm at Sea.
Yes, Salieri also deserves this much applause in any case.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Evidently, Mozart’s geniality cannot really be possessed. Actually, if we could possess all its components, we would also be genii. We rush after the facts, try to phrase and understand the fragments in some way. That’s how we get closer to something where we might not understand each part, but if we get closer to some parts, we can listen to the musical piece with preoccupied joy or observe the correlations, complications and marvellous contradictions of the individual parts. And then you’ll have a definitely gorgeous intellectual and emotional experience.
The titles of our concerts share one common element: each phrases some contraposition. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as those who’ve been faithfully here for years could actually hear that I, just like a maniac, have been talking about nothing else but contrapositions. Actually, contraposition is the strongest element of music, our unuttered and nonverbal art. Otherwise, this is an integral of all arts, even the art of speech and even if we try to refrain from contradictions in our everyday speech. In Mozart’s art, including the Jupiter Symphony, I cannot actually show you anything else but the continuous presence of contradictions: this keeps interest and devoted attention alive.
The name of Jupiter Symphony doesn’t come from Mozart, just as most of the nicknames created in this age were not in general invented by the author himself. However unbelievable, some marketing criteria influenced the nicknames in those times, too. Regarding Haydn’s symphonies, quite many names were given in connection with some event. As to our best information, the name Jupiter for this Mozart symphony originated from the very Johann Peter Solomon who used to care for great many Haydn pieces. This, as I’ve explained before, had some marketing reasons (to use a current, modern expression). But of course not even in marketing is it nice to say something that is false. So then why Jupiter? Why not something or someone else? Quite certainly, the reason for the name Jupiter is that the fourth movement of the symphony is so incredibly complicated that even Bach would’ve envied it. More accurately, not even Bach had a try with what Mozart did in the last movement, which in a simplified form transgresses the borderline of human capabilities. Additionally, the whole symphony is infiltrated with an element that reminds us of mythology. The antique gods have a human face. They gain and lose their power, fight with one another, do intrigues and have human characteristics. Art highly frequently turns to mythology when it wants to phrase a kind of dialogue subject to enormous contradictions. Just think of Prometheus whose controversy with the gods is expressed in several of Beethoven’s pieces.
Well, when talking about Mozart’s symphony, Zeus can immediately come to our mind when we hear the first movement. (Let me still tell you, for the sake of the young audience, that Jupiter and Zeus are one and the same. The Greek call the chief god Zeus, while the Romans call him Jupiter.) The strength, the self-confidence, the relentless self-identity sometimes expressed in this movement is almost unmistakably of divine origin. Let’s start the Mozart symphony. But let’s leave the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th beats out.
To be frank, we’ve cheated a bit. Well, as you’ve heard, we left twice two beats out. So this in itself radiates incredible power. We’ve hardly moved from the core tonality. And what did we hear a lot? Triads – the same triads that we’ve recently slightly rebuked Salieri for. True… but there’s a tiny difference: these twice two beats we’ve left out determine the whole phrase. Just listen: something immensely special is happening. This Jupiterian self-confidence turns into cruel severity out of a sudden: a motif appears here and if we were to use our current language it would be like someone asking “please, please, please”. Try to recognize what incredible strength is all at once hidden in this simple self-identity we’ve recently played. Let’s listen to how Mozart composed it.
All this can be considered a mythological situation, as there are so many similar moments in mythology.
We’ve already shown you Mozart’s scale theme when comparing it with Salieri. But let’s now have a closer look at this, to see how Mozart actually composed it. Now again, there’re several contradictions here. You might notice that the scale melody falls into the previously heard appealing musical motif. And as this motif is played twice in succession, it remains open both times. Moreover, a musical gesture that we can take as the symbol of the formerly heard Jupiter’s divine power is played, even if quietly, together with all the others. Let’s play it now. 24th beat.
Mozart was also very special in being amazingly unsparing with melodies. This is not typical of any other composer – neither in Classicism, nor in Romanticism. For that matter, this is mostly why we like Mozart. An ordinary man can sing at least eight to ten Mozart melodies and even that who isn’t really a fan of music will recognize at least twenty or thirty. Mozart’s world of melodies is so very much catching and unforgettable. Here in this movement he abundantly presents us with melodies again. Let’s play for instance the secondary theme. 56th beat.
Excellent melody, going just by the book. What’s more, we even get a third theme. This is what composers tend to save on. In for instance Haydn’s symphonies and other Haydn pieces we’re desperately waiting for the third theme because he would compose that so rarely; he uses two themes the most. This third theme is typical of Mozart. When it’s Beethoven, we’re happy to get as much as two and not a single rhythm or melody all through a movement or, in some cases, the whole piece. Now we’ll show you a beautiful closing theme which, on top of it all, is so kind as if it were a part of a genuine aria. Mozart quotes a real, indeed singing melody from his own concert aria. 101st beat.
Splendid melody, isn’t it? We’re grateful to Mozart for hearing the fourth melody within a short section, after the leading theme, the above-mentioned scale melody of the transitional part and the secondary theme. This is one face and, naturally, contraposition is always there in some form. The chief god’s thunderlights tend to strike into this beautifully splendid, harmonic, virescent, spring-like mood.
Let’s show you one of these thunderlights, as it’s definitely a dramatic contraposition. It’s in minor within major tonality, which is rather unusual. Pay attention to that tiny anger sneaking in.
Let’s admit, this slightly changes our virescent mood. But not actually where expected: Jupiter’s anger raids us not on the one but the two of the beat, in an unaccented part. So, as you can see, the dialogue between the relentless Jupiter and the frail man passes through the entire movement. 101st beat, on two.
The second movements are always the most inward for Mozart. Mozart’s characters, as I’ve mentioned so many times, can be linked with an opera hero. The slow movements evoke the main female characters’ emotions and spiritual elegance almost without exception; whether it be Konstanze from The Abduction, the grief in Figaro’s countess, the naivety in Don Giovanni’s Zerlina or Pamina’s death-borne anguish from The Magic Flute. However, here in this movement, Mozart certainly does not explain an identifiable opera hero’s emotions. Let’s first play this movement as Mozart did not compose it. If he were an ordinary composer, he might’ve composed it so.
Nice, isn’t it? If Mozart had composed it so, I’d have a guess as to who he might’ve had in mind. But this was not enough for Mozart. Shocking thrills are emerging in this intimate, affectionate romance.
Let’s admit, it was evidently Mozart to compose this. Each and every tone comes from Mozart, but I’ve left out everything he included as dynamics, accent and adventure. I would definitely have composed this movement so, as it’s just enough for me in this form. But it wasn’t enough for Mozart. Consequently, wholly shocking contrapositions and thrills develop in the intimate and affectionate romance of the slow movement.
The same, as Mozart composed it.
Well, this is the difference between geniality and ordinariness. A usual romance turns into troubled dialogue. So these contrapositions, naturally supplemented with plenty of dialogues and other elements, ferment the otherwise traditional romance in the second movement.
The third movement is the only really regular movement. Even so, it’s historically significant as practically here we have the last genuine minuet in the history of classical symphonies. Haydn and Beethoven both composed minuets afterwards, though they’re no more typical minuets. Haydn composed joyful rustic ländlers, full of joke and non-dance-like moments, instead of minuets. Beethoven last called the movement a minuet in his first symphony, though it’s much less a minuet than with Haydn; it’s rather a crazy scherzo in quick tempo, full of unexpected accents. So from then on, in Beethoven, Schubert and the symphonies of the Romantic era, we hear scherzos – whether identified or in their character. This means that, for the last time, Mozart presents us with the minuet, with all its elegance and traditional character. Here Jupiter’s thunderlights, the trumpet and the timpani all seem to be tamed into an elegant gesture in dance. This movement is generally played at a quick pace, which is quite understandable regarding the fate of the movement, but not really so, considering Mozart’s presumed intention. Let’s show the minuet.
Here the trio hides some surprise again. In general, the trio is more intimate and mostly simpler than the main part. This time it starts just as general, but later something happens to it, as Mozart happens to turn to minor in the trio and develops some dramatic moments to contraposition the traditional elegance of the minuet. Let’s play the trio without repetition.
The fourth movement is one of the most genial movements ever composed in music history. Some of you who’ve long been coming to Understanding Music may remember that I was trying to explain Bach’s The Art of Fugue and show you something taken as the highest peak of composition techniques ever recorded in music history; the absolute height or Parnassus of professional competence and scientific art. Bach didn’t actually compose a fugue in this piece. He composed fugues of this and that kind, with two or three themes. But he did not compose the one with four themes. He started, then discontinued it. According to the legend the pen fell out of his hand. This is certainly not true, the pen didn’t fall out of his hand. He would’ve had the time to finish it. It couldn’t be finished. So this is when we say you cannot go above the Himalaya, or in other words, it’s incompletable. However, Mozart composed such a moment in the fourth movement. Not a true four-theme fugue, but he composed an extract with four themes. Four different themes, and he opposes these themes with one another under the rules of fugue editing and counterpointing. Art has had a try for a great lot of things which compelled it to balance at the borderline of impossibility, from a professional point of view. But no one has ever tried to put four themes one above the other. As if the whole movement, including its regular editing, thematic richness and the ending (that completes the whole piece with technical feat) were a summary of the musical approaches of the preceding centuries. The themes themselves are also extraordinary. The main theme is the so-called Jupiter theme, which is an immensely simple motif originating from a Gregorian song, a Magnificat melody. By the way, this fractional melody, this immensely simple, easy to remember and elementarily concentrated melody which might unmistakably refer to Olympus is included in one of Mozart’s Magnificat. MUSICAL SCORE Let’s show the beginning of the fourth movement. As it’s written.
As mentioned before, we’ll analyze three other themes. One is a descending scale. (19th beat)
And yet another melody. A second theme that we’ll still hear extremely many times. There you are: now we also hear an ascending scale sequence. This is the 56th beat, and will the first violin play it only, please. A different kind of scale, but just have a look at it: first a descending, and now an ascending scale.
So then there was a descending scale, and another one ascending. What do you think the fourth will be? What should the fourth be? If the second and the third themes reflect each other, the fourth should then somehow be linked with the first, Jupiter theme. And if the tones of the Jupiter theme were ascending, later descending, then the fourth theme should first be descending and then ascending. This rounds off to perfection. This is the 74th beat, and will the string instruments play only, please. Try to notice that the melody is just as if it were the inverse of the Jupiter theme, with minor changes.
All in all, we have four themes, two contraposing each other, so everything’s available to take possession of the universe. Additionally, whatever will still happen to these four themes is wholly unbelievable. We’ll show you a couple of examples. Here you are. Let’s go back to the 36th beat. The simple Jupiter theme seems to develop into a Bachian fugue. Not elaborated, still, the most complicated polyphony edited. So then… the 36th beat, as recorded.
The ascending scale melody suddenly turns into polyphony, the melody is played in a canon with itself.
The inverse Jupiter theme is not sounded in itself, either, but as the counterpoint of the two scale melodies. This means we don’t actually hear it on its own, only when the two known themes accompany it. To be simple, three themes are played at the same time.
We reach the climax of the piece when the four known themes are jammed onto one another. This happens in the coda of the fourth theme that didn’t play any special role in Mozart’s works. You can hardly find any coda in Bach’s works: after closing the musical adventures he didn’t feel the need to sound any additional tones. But the coda is present in Mozart’s works, though it’s short and will rather simplify than complicate the closing of the work. (Just to add in brackets: in Beethoven’s life work and in almost all the great compositions afterwards the coda is the mostly arduous and more and more exuberant expression of unexpressed thoughts and unsolved emotions.)
Whatever happens in this coda is quite out-of-the-common, even in the light of the above. Mozart gives a sound to all the rugged musical thoughts and intertwining contrapositions that he had expressed with the multitude of melodies and gestures and with incredible technical feat in the movement.
What Mozart created here with this complicated editing style can in practice perfectly reflect the mythological relationship between humans and gods. In the end, gods are merely humans and man also possesses the divine dimension. Mythological gods frequently turn up on the earth. However, the gate to Olympus is kept closed for humans, though Mozart knew it was not closed for him. And here we’ll return to our initial thought: the relationship between Mozart and Salieri, between ordinariness and geniality. It’s dreadfully difficult to understand and accept why the gate opens for some of us and why not for others. I do confirm my first thoughts with all my heart: never be ashamed of belonging to the ordinary group. Respect the genii, learn from the genii, try to master as much as possible from them. As a matter of fact, this especially applies to performing arts, as all this is about how much we seize from the real geniality, the genuine adventures of a work.
Actually, this is the Mozartian moment that we should feel as a divine moment. Though this genial moment is man-made, but made by a man like Mozart who is rather unparalleled in music history. I daresay all the great composers could hardly be compared with Mozart.
So, I suggest that we should take possession of this geniality today, and not feel ashamed of us naturally being capable of just the fragments of this. Let’s listen to this astonishing coda and, after the break, Mozart’s work that does live up to Zeus and Jupiter and should only be nominated so: the Jupiter Symphony.
We’ll play from the 350th beat.
 Miloš Forman’s film (1985). Script written by Peter Schaffer, based on his own drama.
 Szabó’s and Neighbours: Radio and TV play, respectively, about Hungary in the ’70s and ’80s. The focus was on a family, a community, and the play depicted their relationship with the current political, social etc. changes. These plays were still produced by the great actors, directors, authors and composers of the time, contrary to most recent soap operas that frequently work with amateurs.
 Vivaldi actually composed two concertos under this title: a violin concerto (RV 253) and a flute concerto (RV 433). The text here refers to the flute concerto.
 Mozart recorded Jupiter Symphony in his own register (that he was keeping more or less systematically) as follows: Sinfonie mit der Schlussfuge (Symphony with closing fugue).
 As Vincent Novello’s (famous publisher in London) diary goes, when they paid a visit to Constanze Mozart in Salzburg in 1829, his son mentioned that Solomon (1745-1815, musician, composer, impresario) had named the symphony. According to other sources the pianist Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858) gave the name Jupiter to the musical piece, as it was meant to represent the divine excellence of the symphony. The name Jupiter was first put down in writing in the guide of the Edinburgh Music Festival where the piece was performed on 20 October 1819.
 KV 541 – Un bacio di mano – concert aria. Mozart composed the aria as an addition to Pasquale Anfossi’s opera Le gelosie fortunate in June 1788 (he completed the symphony in August). The librettist of the opera, just as for three Mozart operas, was Lorenzo da Ponte who must’ve written the words of the aria specifically for the premiere in Vienna. The aria was performed by the first Giovanni from Don Giovanni, Francesco Albertarelli.
 Aria starting Martern aller Arten from The Abduction from the Seraglio
 Aria starting Dove sono from The Marriage of Figaro
 Aria starting Ach, ich fühl’s from The Magic Flute
(The arias listed here are mentioned only to typify the characters, and not to find specific correlations.)
 Trio form: a musical form based on the principle of recapitulation, where a middle part (i.e. the trio itself) is wedged in between the theme and its recapitulation (A-B-A form). The name comes from the former habit of having a small ensemble play the middle part, though this began to change from the Baroque era and the whole orchestra was playing everything by the era of Viennese Classicism.
 Dixit Dominus et Magnificat KV 193
 Coda: from the Latin word cauda (tail). The closing section of a composition, a formal part following the musical adventures, which may come up with new themes or summarize the entire piece.