Mozart’s operas represent a roll-call of favourite characters and timeless music, blending the comic with the serious, and the historical with the contemporary.
In 1787, Mozart completed his opera Don Giovani — as well as the serenade Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which he wrote while he was working on Act 2 of the opera. Meanwhile:
The power of poetry inspires a musical revolution: from the opera stage to the music rooms of the aristocracy, composers from Monteverdi to Vivaldi find new ways to bring emotion alive in music.
In 1607, Claudio Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo was premiered at the Ducal Palace in Mantua, Italy. It was received “to great satisfaction of all who heard it”, and is the earliest opera still being performed in the 21st century. Meanwhile:
Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu creates a strange yet beautiful world, of yearning, of submerged complexity, of perfectly weighted timbres, of magical spans, of clouded, sensuous sound.
In 1977, Tōru Takemitsu wrote A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, blending the timbres, melodies and structures of traditional Japanese music with the sound world of the Western symphony orchestra. Meanwhile:
Music from England’s Golden Age: sublime sacred music soaring above intrigues of church and state, and intimate lute songs full of love and longing.
In 1597, John Dowland published his First Booke of Songes or Ayres, which included the lute songs ‘Come Again: Sweet Love Doth Now Invite’ and ‘Can She Excuse My Wrongs?’ Meanwhile:
Taking advantage of the new expressive possibilities opened up by improvements in the design of the clarinet, Mozart created a concerto of exquisite beauty — one of the last works he would ever write.
In 1791, in the last year of his life, Mozart began one of the most extraordinary creative outpourings of all art, writing The Magic Flute, the final Piano Concert, the Requiem, the motet Ave verum Corpus, and his beloved Clarinet Concerto. Meanwhile:
At the dawn of the Romantic era, Schumann’s rich musical imagination takes flight in enchanting works for solo piano.
In 1838, when Clara Wieck accepted Schumann’s proposal of marriage (notwithstanding her father’s vehement disapproval of their relationship), Schumann poured out his joy in a series of pieces including Kinderscenen and Novelletten. Meanwhile:
‘I have grown accustomed to composing in our garden…Today or tomorrow I am going to dream there A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ From the pen of the 17-year-old Mendelssohn sprang to life Shakespeare’s magical world of fairies, misguided lovers, rustic actors and a royal wedding.
In 1826 Mendelssohn writes the stand-alone concert piece A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, at the age of 17. He will write incidental music for a performance of the play, including the famous ‘Wedding March’ 16 years later. Meanwhile:
‘The flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music’ — Pierre Boulez
Debussy’s masterpiece provoked a revolution in music, but one brought about by subtlety and intimacy, dwelling on the sheer beauty of musical timbre.
In 1894, Claude Debussy’s quietly revolutionary Prélude à ‘L’Après-midi d’un faune premiered in Paris, ushering in a new era in music. Meanwhile:
Music of profound sorrow and exceptional beauty: Elgar’s Cello Concerto is a phoenix rising from the ashes of a world at war, an elegaic lament for an England lost forever.
In 1919, in the depths of the English countryside, 62-year-old Edward Elgar writes his Cello Concerto. Meanwhile:
The passion of Flamenco blends with the elegance of courtly dances in the most popular guitar concerto of all time: Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.
In 1939 Paris, Joaquin Rodrigo composes his Concierto de Aranjuez, as the spectre of European-wide war looms large. Meanwhile: