Celebrate Mozart’s 250th birthday with the MSOC

By Don Leypoldt
For the Journal Inquirer
October 19, 2006

While there will not be a cake with 250 candles on it, the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (MSOC) is still hosting a birthday party. And you’re invited.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the MSOC will kick off its 47th season by honoring one of the world’s most beloved composers. The seventh child of Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart, but only one of two to survive infancy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756, in Salzburg.

In every aspect of music — composing, conducting and performing- Mozart was a sheer genius. Born with perfect pitch, he was an accomplished keyboardist at age five and a fledgling composer at age six. Mozart’s world had never seen someone with such musical precocity.

“Quite simply, he wrote gorgeous music virtually every time he set pen to paper,” explains Lewis J. Buckley, the MSOC’s conductor, on Mozart’s appeal over two hundred years later. “He was intensely popular in his own time, and his music has been performed continuously ever since, so it is firmly ensconced in the psyche of everyone who loves classical music. He had a dramatic life and he died young, leaving us wanting more, all of which adds to the allure of his music.”

Although he never lived to see his 36th birthday, Mozart left the world such tours de force as “A Little Night Music (Eine kleine Nachtmusik)” and the “Marriage of Figaro,” two of the most familiar opuses in all of classical music.

The MSOC’s bill opens with Serenade No. 10, a woodwind piece that is one of the first works that Mozart composed upon moving to Vienna from his native Salzburg. Mozart’s time in Vienna was the period where the young composer began to artistically blossom.

Buckley, a conductor for more than 30 years, shares a powerful anecdote about Mozart’s greatness. “There’s a wonderful scene in the play/movie “Salieri” in which the title character, composer and Mozart arch-rival Antonio Salieri, looks for the first time at the slow movement of the “Serenade No. 10,” which we will be performing.

“Salieri sees the introduction, a passage he characterizes as mundane; but then the oboe solo enters, and Salieri’s heart breaks, because he knows he will never write anything of such beauty.”

The concert closes with two of Mozart’s more familiar,and later works.

The “Serenade” is followed with the “Overture to Don Giovanni;” the concert closes with the “Jupiter Symphony.” The bill is consistent with the theme of the MSOC: bridging the gap between familiar and unexposed works by bringing the lesser known pieces of famous composers to light.

Mozart premiered his masterpiece opera Don Giovanni at the National Theater in Prague in October of 1787. The smashing success of the opera marked the height of his adult fame.

Less than 12 months later, the prolific then-32-year-old put the finishing touches on his last symphony — “Jupiter.” The symphony, with its contrasting themes, reflects the strong influence that Bach had on Mozart.

The impoverished Mozart would soon pass away from a combination of kidney disease and exhaustion. Mozart’s musical genius did not translate into financial acumen and he was buried in a commoner’s grave. His music however, had a much longer life span.

Despite the well-document tragedies in Mozart’s life, the Austrian left the world more than 600 musical works to celebrate. In a year in which he would have celebrated his 250th birthday, the MSOC offers up three of his best.

The Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will perform on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the SBM Auditorium at Manchester Community College.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. For more information, go to the Web site: