In today’s concert we are going to perform two masterpieces of music history.
In the first part of the concert Symphony No. 2 by Robert Schumann will be played, a work completed in a period of crisis in the composer’s life (1845-46). In fact, in later times, Schumann himself stated that writing it had helped him find his old self and recover from a very bad state. In a way, this symphony does serve as a reflection of the emotional-psychological condition and the healing process of the composer. Striving to leave darkness behind and reaching for the light is a principal motif here, and is also present in some works that inspired Schumann, like Fidelio or Symphonies No. 5 and 9 by Beethoven. The other important influence came from music history: In this time period, Schumann and his wife were immersed into the study of Bach’s music. As opposed to earlier, this time Schumann did not just wait for inspiration but consciously worked on improving his composer’s skills whereby he regularly engaged in writing pieces of counterpoint practice.
The other composer to be presented at our concert, Mozart, had also studied Bach deeply which had contributed significantly to his prolific work. It is known that Mass in C minor has a votive trait in its origin: Mozart vowed to write a mass to give thanks for his marriage. Unlike in his earlier masses, he planned to write a monumental “cantata mass”. He started composing it in July 1782 and continued work until May of the following year but could not finish it. In the end, Mass in C minor remained fragmentary: apart from Kyrie and Gloria, only Sanctus and Benedictus were completed, Credo remained unfinished with only the first two movements (“Credo in unum Deum” and “Et incarnatus”), while there is no Agnus Dei at all. At the time of composition, Mozart’s attention was drawn to Baroque composers: he copied many fugues by Bach and composed a suite and a number of fugues. Mass in C minor is Mozart’s first greater composition that carries the imprint of his new acquaintance with the work of Bach and Händel. It can party be appropriated to this encounter that Mozart started paying a keen interest to counterpoint, but it seems even more important that a historical tone was instilled into his composer’s palette.
The existing movements of Mass in C minor – with two additional arias – were recycled by Mozart in his cantata Davidde penitente (K. 469) composed for the concert of the Tonkünstler-Sozietät in Vienna in 1875.