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“It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen presently. “What would you like best to eat?” “Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund. The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight.”
The eighth year of the JIMF pays tribute to Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca and beyond. Ever since Mozart’s days, when the city of Vienna was besieged by the Turks during the war, composers and audiences have been fascinated by the arrival of arabesque elements in Western music. The 2016 Festival reflects the influence of oriental and exotic styles in a colourful variety of composers from our Classical patron to the present day; from Debussy’s penchant towards Gamelan music and the Moorish flavours in some Spanish guitar music, via Strauss’s Fairy Tales from the Orient to the Sān Gloria of this year’s Composer-in-Residence, Peter Louis van Dijk...
Some 150 years after Mozart’s death, a mysterious bronze mask with the composer’s facial features appeared in a used goods store in Vienna. Was it real? Who made it? Where had it been all these years?
Mozart passed away in the early hours of 5 December 1791. His sister-in-law Sophie Haibel, who was taking care of the ill composer, wrote in a letter that hours after Mozart’s death Count Joseph Deym, the owner of an arts and crafts workshop, rushed to Mozart’s deathbed and made a plaster cast of his face. He left the plaster cast to Mozart’s widow, Constanze, and made a bronze cast for himself. At some point, Constanze accidentally dropped and destroyed the plaster cast – the bronze cast disappeared, the trail gone cold from a Viennese used-goods store after the Second World War…
In what must be one of Mozart’s best known and most beautiful arias, “Un’ aura amorosa” (from his opera Così fan tutte), Ferrando, one of the characters, suggests that “a breath of love from our treasures is sweet sustenance for our hearts. A heart nourished by hope and love has no need of a greater lure.” Well, if things were only that straightforward…
I would like to welcome you very warmly to the sixth edition of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival which will deal with all sorts of amorous fare – not only by Mozart, of course. The opera title Così fan tutte, by the way, literally means “Thus do all [women]” and is popularly used to mean “That’s what women are like”. Well, if things were only that straightforward…
“Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino? – If you would dance, my little Count?” This is what Figaro asks, somewhat belligerently, in his famous cavatina from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro. Written a mere three years before the French Revolution, the aria conveys Figaro’s intent to foil Count Almaviva’s womanizing. But at the same time it can also be read as a thinly veiled political attack on the power-wielding nobility of the time.
The song is sung by Figaro upon discovering the Count’s ploys to exercize his recently reasserted feudal right of ius primae noctis, i.e., to spend a night with Figaro’s bride Susanna before the consummation of the couple’s marriage.
Well, none of this happened at the 2013 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival – but there was a lot of dancing!
“Improvisation? Anyone who plays anything worth hearing knows what he’s going to play, no matter whether he prepares a day ahead or a beat ahead”.
The 2012 edition of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival certainly took a little longer than one day to prepare, let alone one beat. Nevertheless, Duke Ellington’s witty remark on the art of improvisation speaks volumes about the spontaneity of music-making we experienced at the 2012 JIMF.
“Tout finit par des chansons – everything ends in songs”, Beaumarchais wrote as his last line in The Marriage of Figaro. By contrast, in the 2011 edition of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival everything began with songs.
With its theme “On Wings of Song” (after the eponymous lied by Felix Mendelssohn), the Festival took place between 27 January and 13 February, offering an exciting tribute to vocal music and to music inspired by vocal genres. The spectrum ranged from Mozart’s Requiem, via Schubert’s epic song-cycle Die Winterreise and African choral music, to cabaret songs by Weill and Eisler and back to a programme of operatic arias and duets by Mozart.
2010 – the eagerly awaited year in which South Africa hosted the Football World Championship – saw people from all “corners” of the world flock to the southern tip of Africa for this global sports event. Soccer aficionados from all “hemispheres” enjoyed the games, the beauty of South Africa’s landscapes and the hospitality of its people.
Following the 2009 highly successful premiere of the Johannesburg Mozart Festival as an international event, it was our “goal” to “score” a similar success in 2010 and to reflect on the idea of “hemispheres” and visitors to South Africa in musical terms.