Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Classics Series, “Mozart and Haydn”
Conductor: James Fellenbaum
• Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
• Mozart: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 with pianist Kevin Class
• Haydn: Symphony No. 104 in D Major (“The London”)
Sunday, September 25, 2:30 p.m., Bijou Theatre 803 Gay Street, Downtown Knoxville
Tickets: Tel 865-291-3310 or website
Imagine this: you work for the same employer for 30 years; you are paid well, treated with respect, and given substantial artistic freedom, but you pay the price of being mostly isolated from your colleagues, physically and figuratively. But then, your long-term employer dies, the lucrative and protected relationship is ended, and you find yourself out in the real world. Amazingly, however, you discover that, mostly unbeknownst to you, you have gained a remarkable professional reputation from the work you have accomplished over those years of isolation. Able once again to travel beyond your previously limited sphere, you find that your work is admired widely and that you are considered at the pinnacle of your career.
That is the story of composer Joseph Haydn. After spending his 20s working for a number of patrons as a personal court musician, Haydn, at the age of 29 in 1761, was offered the position of vice-Kapellmeister with the wealthy Esterházy family who maintained a significant music establishment. Eventually becoming the full Kapellmeister, he worked almost exclusively in this dedicated court arrangement, composing for the court orchestra and conducting instrumental and choral music, giving music lessons, and later writing operas for the family theatre.
When Prince Nikolaus Esterházy died in 1790, his son was forced to economize and began dissolving most of the family’s music court. As one door closed, another opened. Haydn was intrigued by claim from Johann Peter Salomon, a German violinist and impresario, that Haydn’s reputation in London was a substantial and marketable one. He suggested that Haydn travel there and write and conduct symphonies for a large English orchestra.
Haydn’s first journey to London, 1791-92 at the age of 59, yielded six symphonies among other works. A second journey, 1794-95, yielded six more, the last he would compose. The Haydn symphony on this concert, the No. 104 in D Major, was his last and was first performed in London in 1795. The symphony carries the nickname “The London,” but that is an arbitrary one, as all twelve of the final symphonies are “London Symphonies.”
During Haydn’s first year in London, he would have learned of the death of the younger Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in December of 1791, a musician that he praised and one that he considered a friend. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467 on this concert, was first performed six years earlier, on March 10, 1785. The concerto is rich, bold, and festive—its fluidity masks its complexity like many of Mozart’s works. The Andante movement contains one of Mozart’s most luscious melodies which, unfortunately, lives in our consciousness not for its breathtaking beauty, but for its commercialized romantic associations as dealt it in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan. Nevertheless, few can avoid the spell of this magnificent concerto.
The soloist in the Mozart will be UT faculty pianist, Kevin Class. KSO resident conductor James Fellenbaum will conduct.