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In November 2020 you have published Army of Generals: The World of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, from 1742-78 Volume I, with works from amazing composers such as Mozart, J.C. Bach, F.I. Beck, Jommelli and C. Stamitz, who all worked with and for this most famous Mannheim Orchestra. How did you choose the pieces you have selected for this CD? What led you to produce such a peculiar CD? Can you present, to our readers, all the pieces you have recorded and the marvellous and particular story behind them: the collaboration of a few of the greatest composers in history with one of the greatest orchestras in all times, the Army of Generals? Can you see the distinctive signs of such amazing collaboration in the scores themselves?
There are so much great, yet forgotten composers from this period, but today, they are completely overshadowed by Mozart & Haydn. However, their contributions remain important, even in influencing the bigger names, and upon closer inspection, the period is full of vibrant, contrasting styles that are quite different from the mainstream Mozart & Haydn fare.

We will be releasing further volumes of Army of Generals in 2021. I joked with some of my colleagues that we could easily fill 100 volumes. I had a lot of ideas on what to record for the first set, and I made a shortlist of pieces. Ultimately, I wanted to choose a varied selection which included symphonies, concerti, and opera arias. Through the development of the symphony, Mannheim was really one of the first centres where large scale instrumental music gained a life of its own, separate from dance or theatre. This is immediately apparent in its style, for the fiery drama is recreated through innovative use of instrumental textures.

            Franz Ignaz Beck (1734 – 1809)
        Symphonie Périodique No.17 in E flat major, C. 27 (1761)
Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809) was born in Mannheim, and began lessons on violin with his father. Recognizing Beck's talent, the court decided to support his musical education, and he would become a pupil of Johann Stamitz. Beck briefly studied in Italy with Baldassare Galuppi, but left abruptly after supposedly killing an opponent in a duel. He gained fame when his works were performed in the Concert Spirituel in Paris, which was followed by lucrative publications. By 1760, he was director of a theatre orchestra in Marseilles, and by 1764, he became the director of the orchestra at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, where he produced operas and published many sets of keyboard pieces. His symphonies have a distinctive Sturm und Drang quality, and are some of the most progressive of the period with their intense drama and advanced orchestration. The symphony we chose, which has never before been recorded, is quite representative of this style and is full of fiery drama and unexpected twists, making it a worthy candidate for revival. 

        Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782)
        Recitativo e Aria (Alcidoro): Anime, che provate - Queste selve 
                gia d'amore
from Amor Vincitore (1774)
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) was the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unlike any other member of the Bach family, he would move to Italy, become Catholic, and wrote mainly opera and sacred music. He was hired by Queen Charlotte of Great Britain and subsequently established himself in London, where he promoted the new-at-the-time pianoforte in public performances, performed in fashionable concerts with his friend Carl Friedrich Abel, and produced a multitude of opera seria for the King's Theatre at the Hay-Market. His symphonies, chamber works, and keyboard pieces were published and widely disseminated throughout Europe. He was commissioned to write two operas in Mannheim: Temistocle (1772) and Lucio Silla (1776). Amor Vincitore is a serenata written in 1774 for the theatre at Elector Carl Theodor's summer residence in Schwetzingen, whose performance was attended by Gluck. This aria is particularly innovative, as it employs four wind soloists in addition to a soprano: flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. This model would be later employed by Bach in an aria from his opera La clemenza di Scipione. The wind solos were tailored for the famous Mannheim virtuosi, which included Johann Baptist Wendling (flute), Friedrich Ramm (Oboe), and Georg Wenzl Ritter (bassoon). Mozart met them in late 1777 during his trip to Mannheim, and possibly inspired by this work (he was an ardent admirer of J.C. Bach) would feature some of the same soloists in his sinfonia concertante for winds, Idomeneo [this year its 260th Anniversary], and numerous other chamber pieces. We collaborated with musicologist Paul Corneilson, who provided the performing edition via the Packard Humanities Institute, Los Altos, California. 

Muskens/DNMO: Johann Christian Bach: Aria (Alcidoro)
Queste selve gia d'amore from Amor Vincitore (1774) 

        Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782)
        Concerto for the Pianoforte Op. 13 No. 6 in E flat (1777)
I recorded this piano concerto with an original square piano: a Longman & Broderip from 1787. Despite its small, delicate sound, the chamber scoring of this concerto fits it perfectly, and its charming and elegant galant sensibilities represent some of J.C. Bach's finest writing. It is no doubt that Mozart was captivated by Bach's compositions.

Muskens/DNMO: Johann Christian Bach
Concerto for Pianoforte Op. 13 No. 6 in E flat (1777)

        Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
        Recitativo e Aria Alcandro, lo confesso... 
                Non sò d'onde viene K.294 (1778)
Mozart journeyed to Mannheim in 1777 at the behest of his father, seeking a permanent position. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in his endeavour, but he became friends with several prominent leaders of the orchestra, including flautist Johann Baptist Wendling. While there, he composed the concert aria Alcandro lo confesso... Non sò d'onde viene K. 294 on a text from Metastasio's L'olimpiade for soprano Aloysia Weber, whom he was smitten with at the time, much to his father's disapproval. The subject of the aria, which was adapted from its original context by Mozart, concerns the female narrator experiencing the first sensations of a blossoming love.

Muskens/DNMO: Preview of Mozart: Aria
Non sò d'onde viene K.294 with Tinka Pypker 

        Niccolò Jommelli (1714 – 1774)
        Aria (Didone) Va crescendo il mio tormento from 
                La Didone Abbandonata (1763 version)
Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774) was a Neapolitan composer who was esteemed in his day as the foremost innovator in the Italian opera genre, revolutionizing the genre with declamatory expression and increased complexity. His development of the orchestral crescendo captivated Johann Stamitz, who introduced this powerful effect into the Mannheim style, and it would go on to be known as the Mannheim Crescendo. His operas were performed frequently in Mannheim during the 1750's and 60's, and from 1754, he held a position as Ober-Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he continued to write opera and church music. La Didone Abbandonata was first performed in 1747 in Rome. A second version was prepared for Vienna in 1749, and the Stuttgart performance in 1763 is of the third revision. In this aria, the beleaguered Queen of Carthage Dido expresses her rising anguish as her personal life and regime crumble around her. Jommelli employs the aforementioned crescendo in an inventive, dramatic context that paints the scene for the audience. 

        Carl Stamitz (1745-1801)
        Symphonie de chasse in D (1772)
Carl Stamitz (1745-1801) was the son of the famous first concertmaster of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, Johann Stamitz (1717-1757) and one of the leading members of the second generation Mannheim School. He toured across Europe and performed on violin, viola, and viola d'amore. His compositions were widely published and he is renowned for his contribution to the symphony, concerto, and symphonie concertantes. Le chasse (The hunt) was a common subject for musical pieces in the eighteenth-century, and was often inspired by the decadent rituals performed in the French court. This energetic symphony was descended from the energetic, fiery, Mannheim style, evocative of the aggressive excitement associated with the hunt. The winds are used to make all of the appropriate signal calls that were used in the French-style court hunt, which are documented in Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie (see infra at Q. 9, the original Diderot's tables).

Muskens/DNMO: Carl Stamitz - Symphonie de chasse in D (1772)
III. Allegro moderato - Presto

Muskens & DNMO: The Rise of Classicism

Muskens & DNMO: Graun
Mi paventi il figlio indegno from Britannico WV B:I:24 (live)

Anders Muskens Georg Benda on Clavichord

Anders Muskens performs Beck: Sonata Op. 5 No. 2 (fortepiano)

Anders Muskens performs Beck: L’Éveillée (fortepiano)
You have completed and reconstructed a series of fragments by Mozart and even some interesting Mozart's spurious works: can you present, to our readers, any single of such pieces, completed by you, and the peculiar story behind them and the criteria you used in reconstructing them?
The two most recent Mozart pieces I have reconstructed were a violin sonata in A major based on a fragment K. 385e, and a horn concerto in E major, based on fragment K. 494a.

In both cases, these were works left unfinished by Mozart which contained a substantial first portion of material which was rather high quality, which simply just ends, as if intended to be continued later.

I was disappointed at previous efforts to reconstruct these pieces, for it is always very clear where Mozart ends and the reconstruction starts. When I was working on my reconstructions, I wanted to use my knowledge of historical performance practices, and 18th century compositional styles and aesthetics to create a result that was more seamless and did not feel anachronistic.

                                Mozart Discoveries (on Spotify)

In cases where I had to invent new themes, I tried to use my creativity as a composer, but carefully filtered through this 18th century window.

I hope that when these are recorded and distributed listeners will find them to be compelling re-imaginings of what Mozart might have done if he had managed to finish these pieces. 

These scores by Anders Muskens are available for ordering and part rental at this address:
       Muskens's Compositions

       Reconstructions and Completions of Mozart's Works:
  • Completion of Mozart fragment K. 385e (480a/Anh 48)
  • Completion of Mozart fragment K. 370b 
  • Completion of Mozart fragment K. 494a
  • Reconstruction of a spurious Mozart Flute Concerto in D

       Scores on Text by Metastasio:
  • Cantata, The Dream (Metastasio)
  • Cantata, The Storm (Metastasio)
  • Cantata, The Excuse (Metastasio)
  • Aria: Ah! Non lasciarmi! from La Didone abbandonata (Metastasio)
  • Recitative and Aria: To Scorn my flame!O! Heaven, I faint!
            from Dido (Metastasio)
  • Duet: Prince, farewell!Ah, speak not thus relentless fair
            from Zenobia (Metastasio)

Anders Muskens: Cantata, The Storm, excerpts (Metastasio)

(a) In 2016 you have established your ensemble Das Neue Mannheimer Orchester (DNMO), with a direct dedication to one of the most famous orchestras in history. What the story of your orchestra and of the musicians who work with you? You have already received prizes and awards for the quality of your activity and you have produced so far also some notable but, alas, neglected works by J.C.Bach and G.F. de Majo (both influenced somehow Mozart in his own style development). Can you tell us about all this?

(b) Can you present and tell us about your other CDs released in 2019 (Marianna's Salon) and 2020 (Mozart, Haydn & C.P.E. Bach on a 1791 Fortepiano). What attracts you most of Haydn's music? What the difference among Mozart, Haydn and C.P.E. Bach, somehow the father of the other two (to paraphrase Mozart)?
(a) The orchestra was founded at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (KC), and is completely made up of students and recent graduates of the KC and the Conservatory in Amsterdam. As a result, we are an extremely young, youthful, vibrant, international ensemble full of fresh ideas and new approaches that can take 18th century music in a new – albeit historically informed – direction. Of course, it is difficult to get a footing in today's highly competitive arts sector, with fewer resources available every year. Nevertheless, we are persistent in our entrepreneurial efforts to build something new. The namesake of this anthology Army of Generals reflects the spirit behind our ensemble. It comes from a quote by English musicologist Charles Burney, who visited Mannheim in 1772 and wrote: «There are more solo players and good composers in this, than perhaps in any other orchestra in Europe; it is an army of generals, equally fit to plan a battle, as to fight it».

We expressly decided to focus on the repertoire of the Mannheim School (hence the namesake) and the associated artistic scene around it, because this music is neglected but deserving of revival, especially in an historically-informed manner. We have worked on reviving large pieces by J.C. Bach and G.F. de Majo: both composers were invited to write opera in Mannheim, and it gives us a picture of the world that incubated Mozart's style, as these were his influences.

(b) Marianna's Salon is a live recording of the final round of the London Early Music Young Ensemble Competition, in which Tinka Pypker (soprano) and myself (on fortepiano) took the prize. Musical gatherings among friends and colleagues were an important part of social life in late 18th century circles. These were important places for composers, patrons, and musicians to network and present music together. The programme is comprised of relatively unknown music sampled from late 18th century salons in Vienna and Naples, and depicts the cycle of human life by celebrating the life of Marianna Auenbruggen – a talented Viennese noble lady and friend of Haydn, Mozart, and Salieri, who died far too young. The programme begins with a cheeky, youthful Anacreontic cantata by relatively unknown composer Domenico Corigliano, and proceeds to a more mature sonata by Marianna herself and a funeral ode written by Salieri to commemorate her untimely death. The programme concludes with a Mozart lied as a final farewell to the world, evoking the peace of passing.

Mozart, Haydn & C.P.E. Bach on a 1791 Fortepiano is a solo fortepiano album recorded using an original Louis Dulcken II fortepiano c. 1791 at the National Music Centre in Calgary, Canada, as part of my residency at Studio Bell.

The works of Mozart, Haydn, and C.P.E. Bach are remarkably distinct, although contemporary. Joseph Haydn is attractive for his joking, quirky inventiveness and eccentricities – qualities that are for me, less apparent in Mozart, whose invention focuses on refinement and perfection in elegance and form taking precedence. In some ways, Mozart is more the successor to J.C. Bach, which is not surprising given his influence. These contrast completely to C.P.E. Bach, whose inventiveness and eccentricities manifest in the manic, sombre, and tormented.

All together, these composers represent a wide spectrum of expressive possibilities that all co-existed in the late 18th century, and at the same time can also remain derived, but distinct from the various forms of the typical Mannheim style.

Other CDs available from Anders Muskens:
Beck & Traetta: The Music of the Mannheim Court Orchestra
J. Haydn: Sonata Hob XVI 42

Beck, Richter & Mozart: Keyboard Music from the Mannheim School
Mozart & C.P.E. Bach: Fantasias

Anders Muskens in Mozart – Concerto for Fortepiano K. 491 Live Excerpts

Anders Muskens in Mozart – Sonata K. 309

Muskens & DNMO: The Mozart & Friends Concert 2017 Video
with Highlights from Mozart's Symphony K184, Exsultate Jubilate K165,
Piano Concerto K413, Aria
Deh per Questo Istante K621,
J.C. Bach & Kraus Symphony in C minor VB142 (Live)

One of the most fascinating aspects of Historical Informed Music productions is also the story of the instruments used by modern musicians and by modern orchestras to perform such beautiful scores from the 18th century: can you tell our readers the story of the instruments used by you and by your orchestra for your concerts and recordings? As a composer you have a certain interest in Metastasio's texts, moreover you are well known for presenting, in concert, music programs of improvisations in the purest style of 18th/first 19th century: in your opinion, what attracts modern audience to such peculiar language and style so much? Beside your marvellous series Army of Generals, you have also an intense International musical activity of concerts, what your projects for the future?
The following solo instruments were featured heavily in the set:

Square pianoforte by Longman & Broderip in London c. 1787, restored by Paul Kobald in Amsterdam c. 2018 A fascinating original instrument, impeccably restored, that produces the warmest, most charming and delicate sonorities, and turns the simplest harmonies into pure delight.

Wind quartet
1. 8-keyed flute after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1810 by Rudolf Tutz in Innsbruck c. 2015
2. 6-keyed oboe after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1806-13 by Toshi Hasegawa in Deventer
3. 6-keyed clarinet after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1802 by Rudolf Tutz in Innsbruck c. 2013
4. 8-keyed bassoon after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1806 by Pau Orriols & Alfons Sibila in Vilanova i la Geltrú

Anders Muskens performs J. Haydn Sonata Hob. XVI:49
on Square Piano by Longman & Broderip c. 1787

I do believe that modern audiences are attracted to 18th century sounds, because in some way, they are familiar, yet also not of this modern world.

It is familiar because unlike a lot of post-modern inventions, it uses a language of affects that is accessible, and it remains moving to people to this day.

Apart from the Army of Generals series, I am working on a few other projects, including releasing an album of Beck keyboard pieces, and an album release of Franz Schubert on fortepiano.

I hope to announce a few more initiatives in the coming months, as we see how the coronavirus situation develops.

Mozart: Idomeneo - D'Oreste, d'Aiace with Natalia Pérez (live)

Here videos and photos from other projects by Anders Muskens and DNMO, among them the celebration of Beethoven's 250th Anniversary (1770-2020),  the 2020 Opera Production of J.C. Bach's Carattaco and the 2020 Cantata Production of de Majo's La gara delle Grazie Eufrosine, Aglaia e Talia.
Anders Muskens: Beethoven 250th Anniversary Livestream Concert (2020)

Anders Muskens: J.C. Bach's Carattaco (1767) - An Introduction (2020)

Anders Muskens: J.C. Bach - Vanne, superbo audace from Carattaco

Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
Hmm this is very tricky to pick.

I am going to say (and it is possible that it will change) that my favorite work by Mozart is the piano concerto K. 482.

For Haydn, I would say it's the Sonata in D Hob. XVI:42.

Anders Muskens performs Haydn:
Sonata in D, Hob. XVI:42 I. Andante Con Espressione

Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you'd like to see re-evaluated?
The two neglected 18th century composers I currently focus on advancing are Johann Christian Bach, and Franz Ignaz Beck.

Another composer who should be revived further is Anton Schweitzer.

And... lastly,...

a really important composer that is neglected today is Niccolò Jommelli.

There is no doubt that Jommelli's style is innovative, fresh, and highly influential - yet nearly completely neglected today. Important music theorist and composer C.F.D. Schubart wrote of him in 1784:
        «Jommelli, the creator of an entirely new taste, and certainly one of the best musical geniuses who has ever lived. This immortal man paved himself, as have all spirits of the first rank, a completely unique path. His highly fervid spirit shines forth from all of his compositions: burning imagination; glowing inventiveness; great harmonic understanding; abundance of melodic passages; bold, strongly effective modulations; an inimitable instrumental accompaniment — [these things] are the outstanding characteristics of his operas. Also, Jommelli elevated himself to the rank of a musical inventor. The staccato of the basses, whereby they almost received the stress of the organ pedals, the precise determination of musical nuance, and, especially, the all-effective crescendo and decrescendo are his! When he applied these figures in an opera in Naples for the first time, all the people on the parterre and in the loges rose, and the astonishment shone from wide eyes. One felt the magical power of this new Orpheus, and from this time on, he was considered the world's best composer».

Certainly Jommelli deserves more attention!

[Here infra Jommelli's 1812 identification with the great Late Renaissance/Early Baroque school master L. Carracci: see Carpani's Grand-Gallery of Composers & Painters, 1812]
So true! Certainly also Reichardt, Hiller and Heinse (among others, like Reicha, who considered Jommelli one of the greatest masters in counterpoint ever) left fundamental and important historical and aesthetic judgements on Jommelli, underlining his importance in developing a new sophisticated and nuanced approach to performance (in particular, orchestral) and music writing. It's interesting to consider that Schubart, Reichardt, Heinse were also well known active members of the German Literary Genius Movement/Sturm und Drang, beside the Music one, and all with a great interest in painting, especially that of Late Renaissance and Early Baroque (Caravaggio, Reni, Rubens, Preti, etc.). 

Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you'd like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
I think a good example of a piece of 18th century music that could have wide appeal would be Anton Schweitzer's opera, Alceste c. 1773.

It was also played in Mannheim, and it's remarkably dark, stormy, dramatic, and very fresh sounding. For these reasons, it could be appealing to modern audiences, who often look for this sort of sound.

Moreover, one must keep in mind that the German libretto of this opera was by the great Wieland himself.
Wieland and Goethe, two main protagonists of the German Literary Genius Movement/Sturm und Drang (even though of two rather different and even constrasting phases of it), exerted a great influence on the German music of the second half of the 18th century and promoted hundreds of new compositions, operas and stage music of any kind (mainly in a passionate/stormy style of Gluck, Jommelli, Traetta, de Majo), with the not hidden, but deliberate intent to be saluted as the Metastasios of Germany (Wieland actually received such title!). It is well known, how eventually Goethe managed to create the new fundamental European Music Centre in Weimar, thanks to his friendship with Hummel, the celebrated pupil of Mozart and Haydn, and, in his role in Weimar, the precursor to Liszt and his music of the future.

Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
I am currently working on my PhD thesis, which is related to implementing principles of classical rhetoric in performance practice using 18th century methods.

In a way, a lot of these rhetorical treatises are more prescriptive of producing a moving performance than many music treatises.

I will recommend John Walker's Elements of Elocution (1781), particularly Volume II where the Passions are discussed in explicit detail.

Here you can read the books. At my site you find my introduction to Walker and one of my works of J. Walker.

J. Walker, Elements Of Elocution, Vol. 2, 1781
J. Walker, Elements Of Elocution, Part 1 & 2, 1799
Anders Muskens: Introduction to John Walker
Anders Muskens: Approaching a Rhetorical Performance of Late 18th Century Keyboard Music Using the Methods of John Walker

Anders Muskens: C.P.E. Bach's Fantasia in F Sharp Minor Wq. 80 

Both Schubart and Mozart famously condemned the musician mechanicus. And C.P.E. Bach's performance principle A musician can move others, only if he too is moved was a fundamental part of the strong aesthetic ideas and of the performance practice of both Leopold Mozart and Wolfgang Mozart and of others of that period.

The artists and intellectuals around Samuel Johnson certainly formed a nice English-Italian group (Baretti, Garrick, Montagu and others), devoted to the promotion of the Artistic Freedom of the Genius and to the universal appreciation of Homer, Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Milton and others, and deliberately against Voltaire and the aesthetic principles of the French Academy pseudo-classicism (as it was substantially defined by Bodmer): the essays by Baretti and Montagu against Voltaire were important and remarkable.

Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
Not sure I can think of one right now...

nonetheless, there's certainly an 18th century work that has the same power as a documentary of our time, if not even something more...

... Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie with its articles and tables.

This is, for example, one of the sites, where you can explore and discover the world of the 18th century through the eyes of Diderot:

Diderot's Encyclopédie
Diderot's Encyclopédie: Les beaux-arts
Diderot's Encyclopédie: 40 Tables dedicated to the History, Theory and Performance of Music

Here down the table dedicated to the disposition of the Orchestra of the Opera Theatre of Dresden in 1750s/60s as conducted by Hasse.
An orchestra of strings: 8 vl.I, 7 vl.II, 4 vla., 3 cl., 3 ctrb.;
of winds: 5 ob., 5 bsn., 2 flt., 2 hunt hrns.;
of cembali: 1 for the Kapellmeister + 1 for the accompaniment;
+ trumpets and timpani at the wings.

Here dedicated to the theory of music and counterpoint.

And here the tables dedicated to the art of hunt and the horn calls, we were talking about at Q. 1 about Carl Stamitz.

Do you think there's a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?
For people in the 18th century, this would probably be Naples, given that it was such a musical hub.

Many of the Elector's musicians in Mannheim received scholarships to study there and return, bringing back what they learned.

The Neapolitan style, and the operas of Traetta, Jommelli, and de Majo are definitely important models to understand the evolution of style leading up to the time of Mozart.

Visit the sites of:
 • Pietà dei Turchini
 • San Pietro a Maiella
Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
Thank you!