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Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance invites you to join actor Edward Fox on a musical adventure around Europe. Wolfgang's Travel Notes was conceived by Trinity Laban's Head of Strings, Nic Pendlebury, who will also conduct the Trinity Laban Chamber Orchestra on Monday 26 November at Southbank Centre.
Writer and theatre director John Ginman has incorporated excerpts from Mozart's letters and his contemporaries into a script to provide a lively and illuminating journey around Europe. Read by Mozart lover Edward Fox, the script will provide the setting for each of the five of Mozart's works, including the sublime Piano Concerto No.12.
Wolfgang's Travel Notes celebrates the first 22 years of the prodigy's life and his travels through London, Milan, Mannheim, Paris and Salzburg. For all of its discomforts, Mozart confessed his need to travel: "A fellow of mediocre talent will remain a mediocrity whether he travels or not: but one of superior talent (which I cannot deny I possess) will go to seed if he remains in the same place.
Mozart visited London with his family in 1764 as an infant prodigy, performing compositions and improvising at the keyboard. An observer noted at the time: "The boy is a phenomenon so extraordinary that one can scarcely believe one's eyes and ears. This seven year old performs the most difficult pieces with perfect accuracy. What is quite incredible is to see him playing extemporarily for an hour at a time, abandoning himself to his own inspiration and to a wealth of ravishing ideas, which he has no trouble in stringing together with taste and clarity.
Mozart was so charmed by Italy that he changed his middle name from Gottleib to Amadeus, and the Italians reciprocated his enthusiasm: "Our city cannot but proclaim the remarkable musical abilities of the German boy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Last Friday, in a room before a large assembly of the nobility of both sexes, this child gave such a display of his skills as to cause utter astonishment."
The Salzburg years were productive ones for Wolfgang. He composed another 17 symphonies, five violin concerti, string quartets, wind divertimenti, works for piano including sonatas and concerti. However, after falling out with his employers in Salzburg, Mozart and his father were forced to travel again to find work. Times were often hard, and commissions difficult to find, even though Mozart's reputation was now a golden one across many of the capitals of Europe.
The programme ends with Mozart's witty A Musical Joke, astonishing partly because he managed to write it shortly after the death of his father Leopold. The work is witty and playful, and seems simple but its humour is sophisticated, and his focus is on innovation in his music.