Mozart is a representative of the Viennese classical school and one of the founders of the classical style of music associated with the development of the symphony. Among his works, one might find various symphonies, sonatas, and quartets. This paper is a response to works appeared on the concert program of the American University Orchestras, particularly, on the Sinfonia Concertante and the Overture to “The Magic Flute” by Mozart and comparison of the latter with the Serenade for Strings by Edward Elgar.
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Two Mozart works presented in the concert called “Mainly Mozart” (the Overture to “The Magic Flute” and the Sinfonia Concertante) reveal peculiarities of music from this period. Precisely speaking, the idea of a dynamic harmony as a principle of the artistic transformation of reality gains great significance. At the same time, works reflect psychological veracity and naturalness specific for this time. Harmonic integrity, clarity, luminosity, and beauty are combined with drama in the music of Mozart.
Sublime and mundane, tragic and comic, majestic and graceful, eternal and transient appear in the works of Mozart along with the dynamic equilibrium. Mozart puts the human in the center of the art world trying to recreate the artistic essence of human nature. In his music, Mozart unites experience of different ages, national schools, and folk art traditions. In particular, it is reflected in the Overture to “The Magic Flute” and the Sinfonia Concertante.
The style of analyzed works differentiates by its intonational expressiveness, inventive melodies, interpenetration vocal, and instrumental filling. Works’ texture is characterized by a variety of combinations of homophonic-harmonic and polyphonic warehouse forms of synthesis. It goes without saying that Mozart made a significant contribution to the development of classical music. Consequently, his works reflect and complement the key trends and changes of that time period.
The Overture to “The Magic Flute” was the first piece of the program. At the suggestion of his friend and entrepreneur Schikaneder, who wanted to create a magical fairy-tale libretto, Mozart began his work on “The Magic Flute”. The Overture form is a prelude to the opera or a concert. The piece begins somberly with three powerful chords, which later sound in the opera in the most solemn moments associated with priestly images.
However, everything else in the Overture except the repetition of these chords sounding like a reminder is permeated with light and joy and is written in fugal style. The Overture represents a philosophical tale proclaiming the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil. The ideal kingdom of justice, brotherhood, and friendship is glorified in the fairy-tale form. In the music of the opera, it is easy to distinguish three major figurative spheres: Sarastro, the Queen of the Night, and Papageno. Each of these characters is associated with a certain set of genres and thematic elements that stand next to the highest lyricism.
In his work, Mozart refers to the singspiel genre and German language. A special feature of Singspiel is the alternation of complete musical numbers with spoken dialogues. Most of them are ensembles in composition and combination of voices. The tempo of the opera is intensive and varies according to the certain character. Speaking of the Overture’s orchestration, one might note the following instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horns, trumpets, trombones (alto, tenor, and bass), and strings.
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Besides, the Overture includes a range of singing voices such as tenor, baritone, soprano, and others. Plenty of different voices create the outstanding style of the sounding. It is also very important to point out the fact that the opera reflects some aspects concerning Freemasonry, particularly, religious and ethical teaching as it takes the symbolism of three that was a sacred number of Freemasons.
In my opinion, it is a profound philosophical work that embodies Mozart’s vision of the ideal state. With all the intricacies of the plot of the opera, the plot idea is very clear: the path to happiness lies only through overcoming difficulties and trials. Happiness does not come by itself as it is acquired as a result of the resilience and loyalty, devotion and patience, and love and faith.
The next part of the paper suggests the comparison of the Overture to “The Magic Flute” by Mozart with the Serenade for Strings by Edward Elgar. In this regard, it seems appropriate to mention some information concerning the Serenade for Strings and its composer. As a matter of fact, Elgar’s music comprises plenty of English features. Elgar is one of the outstanding composers of musical Romanticism period. Synthesizing the national and Western European culture, mainly the Austro-German influence, he integrates features of lyric, epic, and psychological areas. The composer extensively uses leitmotifs system. His work is written in E Minor, Op. 20 and consists of three movements, in particular, of Allegro piacevole, Larghetto, and Allegretto.
Among differences of considered works, there are the following aspects:
- the Serenade for Strings was written especially for string orchestra while the Overture to “The Magic Flute” for the orchestra composed of different instruments;
- the Serenade for Strings sounds longer, around 12 minutes while the Overture to “The Magic Flute” lasts approximately 7 minutes;
- works differ in their style as well.
However, two works are similar in many ways as well. For instance, likewise Mozart’s Overture, Elgar’s music spoke in English with a German accent. Moreover, both works are considerable for the world classic music and easy to comprehend. In addition, they reflect the atmosphere of that period and allow the listener to penetrate into the world of Mozart and Elgar.
All in all, I enjoyed the Overture to “The Magic Flute” the most as it makes more impression. It has its unrepeatable style and sounding. Especially, I like the orchestra of the piece. Composed of completely different instruments, it sounded so solemnly, bright, and varied. Melody and beauty of the music of the piece cause constant delight and admiration. I also enjoyed the fabulousness of characters: wise Sarastro appearing in a chariot drawn by lions, vengeful Queen of the Night, fairy and savages, Masonic trial in the Egyptian pyramids, and the mysterious transformation. Mozart’s music makes the listener experience their feelings.
I consider the Overture of Mozart written in the traditional form of Singspiel is a true masterpiece and one of the most popular works of musical theater. The amazing number of expressive means, humanistic content, and inspiring melody distinguish this piece of music. What is more, a good performing level of musicians is worth noting, too.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that attending the concert was rather useful and interesting for me. I experienced aesthetic pleasure and happiness.