Mozart’s last year was the title of a presentation to the Society by group member Peter Curbishley. There probably isn’t another composer about whom there are so many myths particularly surrounding his death in December 1791, almost exactly 225 years ago. The film Amadeus by Peter Shaffer did not help. Although entertaining, it gave credence to wild rumours about poisoning which are now known to be untrue.
Peter played extracts from most of the works he wrote in the final months of his life. This included of course the Requiem, but also from the operas The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito. The Magic Flute was a huge success and is the fourth most performed opera ever written. La Clemenza di Tito by contrast was a failure and languished unperformed until the 1950s. This was in part due to a part written for a castrato, a practice which, mercifully, died out soon after the opera was written.
Members also heard extracts from the Clarinet Concerto written two months before his death, a string quintet and the last Horn Concerto. Despite the huge body of brilliant music Mozart had composed before he died, he was Peter explained, only just beginning. Part of the last piano concerto, finished in the early part of that year. Had he lived into the nineteenth century who knows what he might have produced. His death – from a streptococcal throat infection not poison – was a tragic loss to the world of music.
This was the last meeting of the first part of the programme and the next meeting is in February. Seasons greetings to all our readers.