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Two Hundred Years of Woodwinds #5

This 1959 series features members of The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet, made up of flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. The musicians play a piece, then break it down in order to show how their instruments evoke certain images through music. They also explain the history of the instruments and how they were grouped - eventually culminating in the modern day quintet.

AIRED: December 04, 2020 | 0:29:41
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TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the All Arts Vault. I'm Maddie Orton.

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when they first aired.

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[ Classical piano music plays ]

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Narrator: Great music embodies many experiences.

And when a composer has an overly ambitious father

who wishes to exploit unbelievable gifts,

these experiences begin at a tender age.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began a lifetime of travel

before he was 6.

And in the short span of time he spent on Earth,

he thrilled and amazed kings and queens

and musicians in every capital of Europe.

He loved to travel and observe the different customs

and cultures of France, England, Italy,

and the Germany so near his native Salzburg.

The impressionable young genius was taken

by the sounds of instruments

played by great virtuosi, who became his friends.

He filled their instruments with his melodies,

and they began to sing his words --

graceful, lovely, and personal.

For the wealthy Baron Thaddeus von Durnitz of Munich,

he wrote a bassoon concerto which gave personality

to what had been just another bass voice.

The new sound of the clarinet, limpid and clear,

filled his ear,

and a thousand uses filled his brain.

And for his lifelong friend Stadler,

he created masterpieces.

The valiant horn, consigned to the outdoors,

was now able to utter musical phrases

that equaled the violin.

And for his friends, the solo winds of the Mannheim orchestra,

he completed his rendezvous in Paris

with Ramm, the oboist; Punto, the incredible hornist;

and Ritter, the bassoonist

by composing a special concertante

for winds and orchestra in the Mannheim style.

Six years later, the many ideas and contacts

culminated in a "Quintet for Piano and Winds,"

which Mozart completed and performed in Vienna.

This work is sheer delight in its three movements.

It is chamber music at its best.

The piano maintains a constant dialogue with the winds,

who seem to vie gently with each other

for the piano's attentions.

The members of the Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet

have invited their colleague and associate

of the Curtis Institute of Music Vladimir Sokoloff,

distinguished pianist, to perform

the "Mozart Quintet in E-Flat Major,"

catalogued by Kochel as 452.

The majestic introduction entitled "Largo"

leads directly into a pastoral allegro moderato

for the first movement.

[ "Largo" plays ]

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[ Piano solo plays ]

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[ Quintet plays ]

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[ Tempo quickens ]

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[ Tempo slows ]

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[ Tempo quickens ]

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[ Music ends ]

The greatness of this music certainly warrants the pride

that Mozart himself expressed about this particular work.

During his travels, Mozart also engaged

in another one of his talents,

which was letter writing.

Most of us as parents must be satisfied with these four-

or five-line communiqués from our sons or daughters

which really convey little more

except that they are still alive,

but Mozart's father was much more fortunate.

His son wrote him hundreds of letters in his lifetime

describing his travels, his experiences,

the places he'd seen, the people that he met,

and, of course, the musicians he met and heard.

Now, it is really from these letters

that we know so much of his life,

and not the least important of all these details

are the things Mozart told

his father about his own compositions --

the first performances and the reaction of the public.

The quintet that we are playing now is no exception to this.

In a letter to his father,

who was, that time, in Salzburg, in 1784,

Mozart wrote from Vienna

just after the first performance of this work.

He said, "I myself consider it the best work

I ever wrote in my life.

How I wish you could have heard it,

and how beautifully they performed."

Now, this letter reflects

the pleasure Mozart had in writing his father.

The second movement, the slow movement,

begins with a beautiful songlike simplicity

and moves later into a period

which is perhaps one of Mozart's most profound moments.

[ "Larghetto" plays ]

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[ Music ends ]

The methods and motives of the composers

have intrigued musicians for centuries.

Let us discuss a little bit how ideas are borrowed.

Mozart knew very well what his contemporaries were writing,

as he knew what his predecessors were writing,

and he used their works as his models.

These models

formed sort of a springboard for his inspiration,

and he soared to great heights, as we all know.

This technique was not Mozart's alone.

Other composers used it,

Bach and Beethoven included.

Beethoven's borrowings

stemmed from his intense like of competition

and also from his enthusiasm for other composers.

Probably he was more enthusiastic

about Haydn than Mozart.

One of the finest examples of imitation

is Beethoven's imitation of Mozart's piano quintet.

Beethoven wrote a similar piece, his Opus 16,

in which he uses exactly the same instrumentation.

Now, the last movement of today's Mozart piano quintet

is a rondo with a wonderful cadenza for all the instruments.

And, also, at the end, there is sort of an operatic exit,

where we all seem to be stealing away.

[ "Allegretto" plays ]

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[ Music ends ]

[ Classical music plays ]

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