Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at his death on December 5th, 1791. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem mass to commemorate the February 14 anniversary of his wife's death.

The Requiem was scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ or harpsichord). The vocals include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and a mixed choir. It was never known how much of this work was finished by Mozart before his death.

Here is a dramatization of this story by Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus that later was made into the 1984 movie of the same name, directed by Milos Forman. This movie won 8 Oscar awards.

This clip is at the very end of the movie and it is quite sad but it contains some seemingly educated dramatization of how composers compose their orchestral music... How much is real and how much is fiction? Only a real professional musician may be able to tell. But this is great movie and music making and editing. When you are down and tearful, this Requiem may cheer you up. It does me. Go get a CD for yourself.

Of the ten parts, Confutatis and Lacrimosa are featured and they are listed here for you to enjoy...


Confutatis maledictis,
When the damned are cast away

flammis acribus addictis,
and consigned to flames of woe,

voca me cum benedictis.
call me among the blessed.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Bowed down in supplication I beseech Thee,

cor contritum quasi cinis,
my heart as though ground to ashes

gere curam mei finis.
help me in my final hour.


Lacrimosa dies illa,
O this day full of tears,

qua resurget ex favilla
when from the ashes arises

judicandus homo reus.
guilty man to be judged:

Huic ergo parce Deus,
O Lord, have mercy upon him,

pie Jesu Domine,
gentle Lord Jesus,

dona eis requiem! Amen!
grant them eternal rest! Amen!

Watch until the very end of the clip... you may learn a few things by reading the end credits. The music you hear at the end is the second movement, Romance, of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, KV 446, by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, conducted by Neville Marriner. Unless you are French, you may think you hear a strange language during the second part of this clip. I noticed it too late and too lazy to redo this clip... but the dialogue is not very important in this movie anyway, right?


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Queen of the Night

It's hard to leave Bergman's Magic Flute without talking about the Queen of the Night aria, so here it is... while I still can get to it easily...

In act 2 of Mozart's Magic Flute, a particularly demanding aria, the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" ("The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart") reaches a high F6 note which is rarely found in opera. Mozart wrote this with his sister-in-law Josepha Hofer in mind, who premiered the role of the Queen of the Night and apparently she had no problem to reach the high notes. Guinness lists the highest demanding note in the classical repertoire as G6 (and Mozart does get there in his 'Popoli di Tessaglia'.) The Queen of the Night aria only gets to F6 at 1,397 Hz (about 88 Hz lower than G6.)

This movie is in Swedish and I did not bother with the subtitle. But if you must, here is what the Queen of the Night said in her aria, addressing her daughter princess Pamina, ordering her to kill her Dad Sarastro (Wow! This is so melodramatic:)

"Revenge and hate are raging in my bosom, with desperation, I am torn apart. You now must kill Sarastro to avenge me. Yes, kill him to avenge me or be disowned forever in my heart. Disowned by me forever you shall be....

You shall be disowned by me. Forever you shall be disowned by me.

Second verse...

You shall be plagued forever, cursed and renounced forever. I ruthlessly shall sever every bond between us both. I'll curse you forever. I shall sever every bond between us both. If by your hand Sarastro does not perish. God of vengeance, hear a mother's oath."
Queen of the Night

Magic Flute

I wanted to blog this Mozart overture for a long time. The original DVD of this movie is from the Criterion collection and it is stupidly protected by some strange encryption. It gave me a lot of grief to extract this clip. I bought this DVD a long time ago and finally can share it here so you can see a piece of work by a world renown movie director, a great cinema photographer and hear music by the one of a kind Mozart.

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted the orchestra himself so if you have seen the movie Amadeus, you know that it is quite faithful with this fact.

This clip is the overture of The Magic Flute (Swedish: Trollflöjten.) This is Ingmar Bergman's 1975 film version of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte. It was intended as a television production and was first shown on Swedish television but was followed by a cinema release later that year. The film was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition. The film is notable as the first made-for-television film with a stereo soundtrack.

Photography was by Sven Vilhem Nykvist (3 December 1922 – 20 September 2006) who was a Swedish cinematographer well known for his work in Bergman's films. He won Academy Awards for his work on two Bergman films, Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop) in 1973 and Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) in 1983, and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

As the overture begins, a close-up shot of the face of a young girl who was Ingmar Bergman's daughter fills the screen. Her face reminds me of La Joconde (Mona Lisa in case you do not know the alternate name of this famous painting) by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci during the Renaissance. During the overture, Nykvist showed close-ups of a multitude of faces in the audience. Bergman's daughter reappears frequently. At the end, a portrait of Mozart himself is shown then the curtain rises and the opera begins. Unfortunately, I don't know which of Bergmans' daughter is seen here as he has several from different wives. He also fathered a secret daughter from an affair with a Swedish countess in the 1950s. If you know, leave a comment here.

Update: I was told by a savant secret admirer from afar that the young "La Joconde" in question here is by Liv Ullmann. I should have guessed... because Ullmann was clearly Bergman's favorite leading lady.


Friday, September 10, 2010


Wild Man Blues is a 1998 documentary film directed by Barbara Kopple, about the musical avocation of actor/director/stand up comedian Woody Allen. The film takes its name from a jazz composition sometimes attributed to Jelly Roll Morton and sometimes to Louis Armstrong and recorded by both (among others). Allen's love of early 20th century New Orleans music is depicted through his 1996 tour of Europe with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Allen has played clarinet with this band for over 25 years.

In this clip when his European tour was in Paris, on the way back to New York, Allen showed off his musical talent that I did not know he had, although I knew he had a jazz band. No wonder the music tracks of his movies all sound wonderful.

Although Allen's European tour is the film's primary focus, it was also notable as the first major public showcase for Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. For this story, you need to learn more about Mia... or may be I will blog about it in the future here.


Sunday, September 05, 2010


This blog is selfishly made for myself. To avoid fumbling around looking for my DVD and play a very fine symphony orchestra, I blog this so I can get to it much easier and faster on line.

The Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in late 1786. It was premiered in Prague on January 19, 1787, a few weeks after Le nozze di Figaro opened there. It is popularly known as the Prague Symphony.

The Prague Symphony was scored for two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

The work has three movements:

1. Adagio—Allegro, 4/4 (Sonata form)
2. Andante in G major, 6/8 (Sonata form)
3. Finale (Presto), 2/4

This performance was recorded from the Stefaniensaal, a concert hall famous for its perfect acoustics, in Graz, Austria. In the DVD, this symphony followed a performance by Cecilia Bartoli, the orchestra of Concentus Musicus Wien was conducted by Nikolas Harnoncourt.

Do you ever imagine how the individual musician belonging to a large symphony orchestra works? This video may give you a way to appreciate the seriousness and their importance to the beautiful music that you hear. As with all Mozart's Andante movements with usually immense sadness but wonderfully melodic undertone, I love this one and I do hope you do too. So, drop your hair, kick back, leave your worries outside and enjoy. After this symphony, Mozart composed his famous trilogy of symphonies 39, 40 and 41.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010


OK, here's the deal. I do not want to put off this any longer so here it goes... a classic "space strip tease" by none other than Hanoi Jane.

This is a very old 1968 Dino de Laurentis movie. If you don't know who that is, you are too young and need to look him up. This film is by Roger Vadim. The same remark above applies. Roger Vadim was an interesting French movie director. He loved to show his usually beautiful wives naked in his movies. Jane Fonda was his third "beautiful" wife and she stars here as Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy. This quite cheesy and at times funny movie received very high rating marks.

After watching this clip, you have to take a test: Who is the producer? Who is the director? Who wrote the music? Who are the co-stars? You missed all that? What were you watching? You were supposed to focus on the stylized text on the screen and nothing else! You failed the test! Watch it again and pay attention the next time, please!