The choice of the 1759 tempest painting by Vernet
as signature image for this CD, dedicated to the 1760s Sturm und Drang movement, has strong and meaningful Odyssiac implications, which may well go
beyond the mere dimension of music...
1. Ian Page's great mosaic: Mozart 250 and his marvellous
2. Sturm und Drang and music: an introduction by Ian Page. (Link)
3. Why we can say Sturm und Drang. (Link)
4.The Mozartian The Tempest of 1791, the Shakespearean style
and the Mozartian beginning of the Romanticism (Link)
5. The calligraphy of the scores of the period 1750/1780 and
Ian Page's selection and interpretation. (Link)
6. Ian Page leads us through the first 1760s compositions of
Sturm und Drang. (Link)
A Gallery of Composers
a. Gluck: the beginning of Sturm und Drang in music with
Don Juan/Don Giovanni (Link)
b. Jommelli & Traetta: the magnificence of the Neapolitan
Music School (Link)
1. Jommelli's music, ossia genius, spirit and fire! (Link)
2. Traetta's opera chiaro ed oscuro and the fortune of
c. Beck: the avant-garde of Mannheim (Link)
d. Haydn: the powerful creative isolation of a genius (Link)
e. Jommelli's and Traetta's innovations and gratitude towards Ian Page
and his collaborators (Link)
7. Ian Page: establishing a tradition within style and
8. Conclusions. (Link)
Odyssey XII, The Sturm und Drang punishment of Ulysses by the
gods. ca. 1235-1184 BC (Link)
Alcaeus, fr. 34, The sea tempest and the Dioscuri.
ca. 620 BC (Link)
The sections 5 and 6 are part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the famous formative Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters. blockquote>
... Such choice confers, to this Sturm und Drang Album, a peculiar nuance of investigation, that correctly depicts those multifarious artistic impulses and experiences that gave life, at the same time within different branches of the arts (music, literature and painting, in primis), to the so called various currents of the Sturm und Drang, of the Neo-Classicism and/or Classicism (with its, also masonic, interest in esoterism, alchemy, supernatural and magic) and the Romanticism.
Sturm und Drang Vol. 1 is the superb and superlative first CD in a collection of seven marvellous gems all dedicated to the Sturm und Drang music, a magnificent series conceived, designed, created and produced by the genius of Ian Page, celebrated founder and conductor of The Mozartists/Classical Opera Orchestra and under the Minervian aegis of the label Signum Classics Records.
1. Ian Page's great mosaic: Mozart 250 and his marvellous tesserae.
We've already had the privilege of having Ian Page as our special guest for our 10 Questions section and on that occasion, marked by the 20th Anniversary of Ian Page's Classical Opera foundation, Ian Page had also presented and illustrated his extraordinary 2015 project Mozart 250: the journey of a lifetime.
Mozart 250 is an exclusive and exceptional permanent anniversary, through which it is possible, probably for the first time ever on such a wide systemic scale and year after year, to synchronically explore and discover an entire world of sounds, scores and people who had dedicated their life and their art to music, during those incredible years marked by Mozart's own life.
As Ian Page told us in his 2018 Interview:
«Even those pieces which Mozart would almost certainly not have heard throw light on the gradual evolution of musical style during his lifetime, and of course the works that he did know are of even greater interest. [...] We've already featured over thirty composers in the first three years of MOZART 250, [...] and we'll be releasing a 2-CD set of highlights from these concerts in May 2018».
So this is the scope and these are the amazing numbers of a great splendid mosaic shaped by many thousands of marvellous tessarae designed by the genius of Ian Page in person and Sturm und Drang Vol. 1 and the other six CD Albums of the Series are just another new seven superbly magnificent tesserae added to such a colossal and imposing framework.
You can read the complete MozartCircle Interview with Ian Page here:
January 2018: 10 Questions with Ian Page
You can find the complete discography of Ian Page & The Mozartists/Classical Opera here:
Complete discography of Ian Page & The Mozartists/Classical Opera
You can find here the complete presentation of the Mozart 250 Anniversary Years from 1765/2015 to 1770/2020:
Presentation of the Mozart 250 Anniversary Years (1765-1770/2015-2020)
Ian Page & Chiara Skerath present Sturm und Drang Vol. 1
2. Sturm und Drang and music: an introduction by Ian Page.
The great passion and commitment of Ian Page to the wide exploration of the musical world of the Mozart Era can be immediately perceived from the very booklet of this Sturm und Drang CD, written by him in person and with a remarkable profusion of interesting and, in a few cases, fundamental details on both composers, their lives and their works.
In the introduction, Ian Page delineates the boundaries of the so called Sturm und Drang movement from the 1776 play by Klinger to the Sorrows of the Young Werther (1774) by Goethe up to Die Räuber (1780) by Schiller.
He, moreover, correctly and acutely points out that currents of art and thought, that were leading to the final formulation of Sturm und Drang in 1776, already existed in the arts since even the 1750s.
Gluck and Goethe
Goethe himself and Gluck were two principal testimonies/actors of the evolution of this movement, as both already in the 1760s were strongly attracted by the contents and formal styles of the artistic productions of the Elizabethan Age from Marlowe and Shakespeare to Tirso de Molina and profoundly felt the total fascination of those artistic worlds of strong emotional contrasts so projected towards the Odyssiac interrogative investigation of all the final mysteries of human life: where human thoughts come from? How do they determine my actions? What dominates and moves Nature and her accidents? What's Afterlife like? Will I be punished in Afterlife for my thoughts and my actions? It's not a case, so, that Gluck in the 1760s will explore the Faustian theme of the Don Juan/Don Giovanni and then the Afterlife with his highly celebrated Orfeo ed Euridice, while Goethe soon after put his already 1760s Shakespearean hands at work on the Urfaust.
The painters and the Sturm und Drang
And, as Ian Page underlines, the painting movements are equally important to comprehend those years of emotional inquietude, where both the actual exceptional increasing number of vessels and sea adventures of the commercial and military companies and the rediscovery of Shakespearean plays like The Tempest put the men again before the mystery of the Unknown and of the profoundly mysterious nature of Nature herself, a human ancestral challenge that every sea voyage always implies (even today).
The world of Vernet and de Loutherbourg
And, as Ian Page correctly suggests, we can now find, in the 1750s/1780s, painters who masterly perceived and captured such feelings of tension and inquietude, by portraying men as novel Ulysses among dominating gods and forces, sea tempests and shipwrecks. Among them, the names of Joseph Vernet (the painter of the CD cover of this Album) and Philip James de Loutherbourg, with their cycles of paintings dedicated to the sea and the sea storms.
Furthermore, de Loutherbourg was so attracted by such themes that he even invented an eidophusikon, a sort of mechanical automatic theatre action creator, to show to his public, how a real sea storm unfolds and sounds and what it does to the human ships in their sea adventures of exploration!
And the Nature is like that Polyphemus, gigantic, menacing and blurred through the fogs of the coast, while Ulysses derides him before losing all his men in the tragedy of the divine punishment, as it emerges from the colours and the strokes of brush of W. Turner in his famous painting.
de Loutherbourg's eidophusikon in action with a scene of sea tempest
and shipwreck, one of the most acclaimed by the public
3. Why we can say Sturm und Drang
The term Sturm und Drang (i.e. Storm and Drive/Impulse, in the sense of Drang des Herzens, the Drive of your Heart, where the common Storm and Stress is an erroneous and misleading translation) was invented in 1776, with the precise intention of describing the deliberate use of Elizabethan Age/Shakespearean style and themes in a theatre play, written by Klinger (a close friend of the young Goethe), with his own personal interest not only in the various forms of Shakespeare's dramaturgy to be imitated, developed and improved, but also in the more obscure Marlowe's work Doctor Faustus, a Renaissance German story which, by the way, was also the original source of Tirso de Molina's Don Juan/Don Giovanni.
Even though the term Sturm und Drang was officially attached to classical music 18th century repertoire only in 1909 by the musicologist de Wyzewa as a direct reference to the strong emotional style of certain Haydn's symphonies, all we can say about the choice of de Wyzewa is that he was right and that his intuition was appropriate and felicitous.
In fact, from the very beginning Sturm und Drang was a term of continuation, rather than a term for an invention from scratch, and was intended to describe the new intentional and deliberate revival and further development of artistic models both in style and content, which belonged to the European Elizabethan Age (ca. from 1550s to 1630s), by selecting as champions to be followed theatre and painting great artists, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Stefano Tuccio SJ (the creator, in 1564, of a long lasting idea of Judith from Caravaggio up to Jommelli and Mozart), Giovanni Battista della Porta (important scientist at the level of Galileo, but also neoplatonic magician, author of treatises on magic, a sort of real dr. Faust, alchemist and highly influential playwright: among his creations obviously a dramatically emotional Ulysses for the theatre), Caravaggio (highly influenced by the strong and emotional pre-Shakespearean Roman theatre of the Jesuits, i.e. Stefano Tuccio), Tirso de Molina (author of the Don Juan/Don Giovanni derived from German stories and Ingolstadt Jesuits' theatre works on dr. Faust and count Leonzio), Moliere, Calderon de la Barca, the Caravaggisti (Vernet as a painter, was almost a pupil in direct line of the Caravaggisti and of Caravaggio), the Bologna fundamental school of the Carraccis (Ludovico and Annibale Carracci in primis) and Tintoretto.
Ian Page has very well written, in his CD booklet, that de facto Sturm und Drang and what this term means in artistic style, themes and content, already solidly existed before Kaufmann and Klinger decided to give a name to this vast cultural current in 1776.
The origin of this current, in fact, is to be found in a very curious and interesting movement of the 16th century that can be called as The Great Theatre Sources Collection of the 1550s/1590s a deliberate collection of sources to be used to create and write new plays for the Theatre (but also material for other forms of art), which had to be emotionally strong and realistically impressive and vivid. This current is well illustrated and presented by J. Bloemendal and H. B. Norland in the book they both edited Neo-Latin drama in early modern Europe, Leiden-Boston 2013. Shakespeare and Marlowe (like most of the artists named previously) were the geniuses prodigy children of this movement, not their fathers: Richardus Tertius was in England a colossal theatre production conceived in 1579 as a trilogy already 14 years before Richard III, while the 1591 Alabaster's Roxana had already adopted theatrical solutions à la Hamlet, before Hamlet itself, and had already reached certain levels of even real expressionism in violence that nearly reached Titus Andronicus.
In conclusion, Sturm und Drang was deliberately invented to describe the intentional revival of an entire artistic and cultural current that existed in the period 1550s/1630s. And as van Eck, Bussels, Delbeke, Pieters and Refini have clearly demonstrated in their book (Translations of the Sublime, Leiden-Boston 2012), this vast European current was fundamentally nourished by the progressive diffusion of the individual and emotional definition of the Sublime in Art, given by the ancient Greek theoretician Longinus in his still aesthetically extraordinary and inspirational Homeric-Epic-centred book Peri Hupsous (1st century AD). As Refini very well put it: «Longinian sublimity is something more than a simple stylistic notion, for the sublime is first of all a state of mind [...] the dimension of emotional involvement of both the author and the reader is the important one [...] an idea of artistic creation which focuses on the extraordinary intellectual profusion of the ingenious artist...»
... That's to say that, when C.P.E. Bach and Leopold Mozart wrote in their music manuals (1753; 1756) that «A musician can move others, only if he too is moved», they are enunciating a very well known Longinian aesthetical Homeric-inspired principle that belonged to the Elizabethan Era and we can call such apophthegm a Sturm und Drang apophthegm.
... When Goethe writes his first works in Shakespearean style, and neoplatonically declares Shakespeare a prophet of Nature and The Tempest, in all its parts, the absolute model for the artists and then write Zum Shakespears Tag (1771) and the Marlowian magic- and supernatural-centred Urfaust (1772-1773), we can call this Sturm und Drang.
... When Ian Page underlines, in his booklet, the fact that Gluck's Don Juan's ballet of 1761 may actually be considered the beginning of music Sturm und Drang he is perfectly right, because Don Juan was derived from a German 1587 source on dr. Faust, reworked by some Jesuits of Ingolstadt as count Leonzio in 1615, before becoming the Tirso da Molina's and Moliere's Don Juan/Don Giovanni (see Raffaelli 2002).
... When Carpani, the famous biographer of Haydn (Le Haydine, 1812), says that the music style of Gluck is the style of Caravaggio, and that the style of Haydn is Tintoretto and the style of Jommelli is Ludovico Carracci and the style of Traetta is Preti, this is Sturm und Drang.
... When Mozart's Don Giovanni (again another 1787 offspring of the 1587 German dr. Faust) was saluted by a 1789 Frankfurt newspaper as the truest spirit of Shakespeare («Mozart has learnt the language of ghosts from Shakespear»), this is Sturm und Drang: moreover, Mozart not only was strictly connected to Mannheim, that was a town and court enthusiast of Shakespeare, but his friend Schikaneder was himself a famous Shakespearean actor, like Mozart's brother-in-law Lange, the husband of the much beloved Aloysia Weber, sister of Constanze.
It must be added that the assertion that a deliberate act of music Shakespeareanization in the 18th century does not exist, is false: Vogler, following in the footsteps of Goethe, in the period 1777-1779 elaborated and wrote an intentional essay on the theory about the transposition of the dramatic qualities of Shakespeare's theatre into music, by using Hamlet instead of the Goethian Tempest as a model. We can call this Vogler's deliberate act on music style and writing Sturm und Drang. And Vogler was the Mannheim teacher, mentor and inspirer of the of-Mannheim-origin von Weber, who wrote the Faustian Der Freischütz, of Meyerbeer and indirectly, through Meyerbeer, of Wagner, an admirer of Gluck!
On Vogler and Vogler's Shakespearianism and his emotional techniques in music see, in particular, the works by Grave F., Grave M. and Green Ed.
Now we can call all this Shakespearianism or Elizabethanism or Marlowism or Longinianism or Tuccianism or Caravaggism or Tintorettianism or Late-Renaissancianism and even Jesuitsianism (see the origin of Don Juan/Don Giovanni), but, since the term Sturm und Drang was precisely invented to underline the full dynamic power of the two main motors of the whole Odyssiac Elizabethan Shakespearianism, the Storm that affects the souls and the inner metaphysical and even supernatural Drive of the heart that may lead even to profanation or wrong doing, thus creating another Storm, well, we can well call all this Sturm und Drang.
If Carpani defines a good part of the music style of Haydn as the highly expressive and emotional style of Tintoretto, and this in 1812, de Wyzewa was perfectly right, in 1909, in calling that peculiar style of Haydn an Elizabethan Sturm und Drang.
4. The Mozartian The Tempest of 1791, the Shakespearean style and the Mozartian beginning of the Romanticism
There is an extremely rare and interesting and yet lesser known series of 1791 letters published by Cliff Eisen in his book on the Mozartian sources (No. 106, year 1791).
A group of people (among them the Medea - a story on ancient witchcraft - collaborator of Benda, Gotter, and Bürger, the celebrated poet of the Leonore: this famous 1773 Shakespearean ballad became, with Der Wilde Jäger, one of the official Manifestos of the Romanticism in 1816), in a period between Spring 1791 and Autumn/Winter 1791, tried to contact Mozart and to offer him the possibility of setting in music a libretto based on The Tempest by Shakespeare, under the eloquent title of Die Geisterinsel (i.e. The Island of the Spirits). After many uncertainties on contacting Mozart or not, this group of people considered the names of other composers deemed suitable for setting such a Sturm und Drang (or already now proto-Romantic?) programmatic play into music.
The uncertainties were caused by the fact the Gotter, Bürger and the others had not a too direct knowledge of what Mozart and the other composers were actually doing or not at that very moment. It is a fact that, still on 15 December 1791, they are planning to contact Mozart to write an opera from their The Tempest libretto, by sending him the text, while Mozart was already dead.
Nonetheless the names of the other composers who could possibly be interested in treating a Sturm und Drang Shakespearean opera are really interesting and we give them in the exact order they appear in the long correspondence, because this is a clear declaration on music style and aesthetics by a group of people, who are considered the very official founders of the Romanticism, like Bürger:
3) Schwenke, successor of C.P.E. Bach
4) Reichardt, friend of Goethe, husband of a Benda and author of
important 1774/1776 notes on the dramatic and tragic innovations
of the orchestral style invented and introduced by Jommelli
5) P. Wranitzky
6) Haydn (but «Haydn is in England!», they write and can't be
7) Schulz, a friend of Reichardt,... when, in January 1792, they finally receive the news that Mozart died on 5 December 1791...
Here what we can say on these composers:
1) Paul Wranitzky had already written music for his most successful in-part-Shakespearean Oberon (adored by Goethe) in 1789 and later, in 1808, will write other things based on Shakespeare and with much darker atmospheres;
2) In the 1790s also Dittersdorf will treat not only Shakespearean themes in opera (The Merry Wifes of Windsor, 1796), but he will be well known for having been one the rarest composers of the 18th century to have written an opera on Dante's Inferno... and many many years before Liszt's own piano works and symphonic poems! It is important to point out here that Dittersdorf's Ugolino (1796) was again a typical Sturm und Drang production of this period, whose origin stays, in primis, in a prose theatre play of the Late Renaissance derived from Dante's Inferno.
From 1792 (Mozart's and Haydn's friend Hoffmeister's opera derived from The Tempest, which appeared under the title The Shipwreck, i.e. Der Schiffbruch) to the the first years of 1800, Reichardt, Müller, the pupil of Dittersdorf, and the Mannheimer Voglerian rival of Mozart, Peter von Winter, and others, all wrote operas based on Shakespeare's plays... evidently a final strong meaningful and epochal shift of interest towards Shakespeare also in opera, after just thirty years from the Marlowian Faustian Don Juan By Gluck.
Therefore, this truly Shakespeare-and-Mozart-driven series of letters written, in 1791, by those very intellectuals and writers who were the real founders, if not even the real flags of the Romanticism, such as Bürger, incredibly seems to position the mark of the 1760s/1770s Sturm und Drang transition to the Romanticism in the year 1791... Thus, at the very deathbed of Mozart in December 1791, we see the birth of an entire new Era born from the artistic highly fruitful Elizabethan aesthetical turmoils.
5. The calligraphy of the scores of the period 1750/1780 and Ian Page's selection and interpretation.
This chapter is also part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters.Through the years, Ian Page has demonstrated to have a special and peculiar sensitiveness and accurancy in studying and treating the scores and the music production of the period 1750/1780, presenting particularly interesting, meaningful and significative approaches towards the 18th century repertoire of the then main music schools of Europe:
• Naples (Porpora, Durante), Bologna (padre Martini), Mannheim (Stamitz, Cannabich, pupil of Jommelli), as the principal ones,
and the secondary ones (only because they were not always real schools, being more linked to the personal prestige of one internationally famous composer/theoretician),
• Milan (Sammartini, the teacher of Gluck, and perhaps one of the music models of Haydn),
• Padua (Vallotti, the experimentalist theoretician, whose work inspired his pupil Vogler, under a certain point of view, the real Goethe of music, at least, as far as theory is concerned; Tartini, this year is the 250th Anniversary of his death, a model also for Leopold Mozart)
• and Venice (Vivaldi, who left an impressive mark on Italian and International music, with his works used as models, in particular by J.S. Bach and his family; Galuppi).
And it goes without saying that such schools generated the most incredible progeny of geniuses composers ever in a period of only 200 years! From Vivaldi, Porpora, Martini, Sammartini, Gluck and all the Bachs to all the composers on this CD, to Boccherini, Jommelli, Traetta, de Majo, Mozart and Haydn, Sarti, Cherubini, Rossini, von Weber and Donizetti up to Wagner himself and even Puccini.
Calligraphy, technique, form and essence in the Sturm und Drang
Those six schools developed a peculiar music masterly calligraphy, which (according to Carpani, the biographer of Haydn) found an aesthetic correspondence of artistic intents and a solid reference mostly in the Late Renaissance and Elizabethan Age painters, such as the Carraccis, Reni, Caravaggio, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Giulio Romano, Preti, Guercino, Tiziano and others...
... all painters, whose styles naturally oscillated (but it was a real technique theorized by the Carraccis of Bologna!) from a highly polished Renaissance classicism to the wildest and most vivid and emotional forms of representation in search of both the truest reality (as Lodovico Carracci put it) and of the perfect Longinian Sublime (according to Lodovico Carracci the painters had to have a strong cultural, intellectual and literary preparation), while maintaining, nonetheless, a superior aestethical masterly control of the techniques utilized... a calligraphy.
The Recitar cantando
Moreover, a few typical traits of the music of those music schools were characterized by a very celebrated peculiar style of recitar cantando and cantar recitando (act whilst singing, sing whilst acting), which was masterly and minutely built upon a series of subtleties in both score writing and canto, which, in the end, had to give a full figurative (even almost visual! but see the pieces in this CD!) musical representation of the words of the librettos and of the environmental contexts of that imaginative world to be recreated through the music. Therefore, music writing was an authentic complex art of very fine chisel modeled on the given context and which required high levels of interpretative mastery, a combination of genius and passione (genius, spirit and fire, the words of Jommelli!), finezza, naturalezza and sprezzatura... the work of art of these composers was really rather more similar to the work of a fine gold jeweller.
Jommelli as orfèvre, with Ian Page and Chiara Skerath
The work carried on by Ian Page and Chiara Skerath on the composition by Jommelli is, at the same time, amazing, extraordinary and exemplary on the interpretative level... and especially because that very piece from Jommelli's Fetonte is itself a challenge and an amazing example of that special art of music orfèvrerie, where all the music and all the notes formulas and figurations visually represent, almost even speak the world they represent and its atmospheres. In this respect, Carpani was perfectly right: beside the fact that they both were inspiring leaders in their art, Jommelli's style was really that highly intense and impressive Lodovico Carracci with his dramatic and colourful striking compositions of atmospheres, space and characters.
Jommelli's calligraphy, atmosphere building and orfèvrerie in Fetonte's Ombre, che tacite qui sede (on Ian Page's and Chiara Skerath's CD in a masterly interpretation)
Mozart, Gluck and Michael Kelly: master composers and melodists
The apparent simplicity and sometimes the lack of excessive exornamentation of certain scores, like that of Beck, must not be misleading! That was a studied and sought after aesthetic standard intentionally realized (and even theorized!) by master composers who had the total and most profound command of the many subtle devices of their art (like Beck), and THAT apparent formal simplicity, therefore, WAS NOT content simplicity... at all.
As Ian Page writes in his booklet: Beck's Symphony in G minor (1762), «despite being scored for only strings and a pair of horns, has a power and intensity which might suggest a considerably later date of composition».
... but Mozart himself told Michael Kelly, in a famous (but also a bit bizarre: probably Mozart didn't want to hurt the enthusiasm of Kelly as a budding composer of melodies) conversation between the two, that there is a substantial difference between a real master composer and a melodist:
But let's listen to the very words of Mozart on music composition: you must know, also on an interpretative or critical level, who were the real great master composers, full of spirit and fire (as Jommelli used to say!) and full of chiaro ed oscuro (as Leopold Mozart wrote, in 1770, about the essence of opera writing) and who were the mere melodists in the 18th century.
We can say that Ian Page and Chiara Skerath have masterly done all this and a marvellous amazing music masterpiece by Jommelli has been reinstated to new life and can now shine again, for the first time in recording, on its own pedestal in all its own radiance and refulgence.
And the same can be said for the deservedly legendary piece by Traetta from his Sofonisba!
Thank you, Ian Page and Chiara Skerath!
Jommelli, designing and manoeuvring the masses of orchestral sounds
Thanks to many original documents of even eye-witnesses, we know Jommelli's ideas on the orchestral performance style pretty well.
He adored the full orchestral mass, capable of producing powerful well studied nuanced, subtle and highly impressive dynamics and highly expressive effects of chiaro ed oscuro through the balanced intensity of the sound of the whole orchestra.
His personal orchestra in Germany, when possible, could even manage to reach the number of a hundred musicians, to obtain the most increased and impressive results. He was a sound and orchestral technique perfectionist and his musicians had to reach the greatest levels of skillful, perfect and virtuosic natural performance during the concerts. Moreover, he even carefully designed the acoustics by changing the positions of the orchestral sections to obtain the best effects.
Nonetheless, he was even accused for his extremely luxurious ideas on what a full orchestra had to be and had to powerfully sound and for adding counterpoint sections to increase the effect. And we know that also Dittersdorf and Mozart loved a few aspects of this type of work by Jommelli.
It is a well documented fact that the modern technique of manoeuvring the whole orchestral sound as a unique body with the modern breathtaking crescendos and diminuendos was invented and introduced by Jommelli himself in 1740s in Rome (see Spitzer-Zaslaw, 2004). Furthermore, we know also that the style of interpretation of his orchestras was always extremely intense even almost up to the orgiastic, all genius, spirit and fire, as Jommelli used to say (i.e. Sturm und Drang!).
From Reichardt, Briefe, 1774-1776: the first astonishing effect of Jommelli's orchestral sound design and its adoption by his German pupils from Mannheim, like Cannabich.
Burney describes the type of performance of the Neapolitan orchestra in 1770/1771 from mild/sober tones to flames. The orchestra was one of the best of that time with Mannheim and Stuttgart, in part shaped by the same Jommelli or by his pupils, and you'll notice that Burney even uses here the same identical words as Jommelli: genius, spirit and fire, to describe the performance of the Neapolitan orchestra.
And, also in this respect, the interpretation of Ian Page and Chiara Skerath, so full of subtelties, of intense nuanced effects, of sophisticated orchestral games of lights and shades, is exemplary at the highest degree and fully demonstrates their absolute masterly control of the real essence of the original scores by Jommelli.
The dynamics à blocks, chopped up, metallic Baroque is finally banished, that very style that Jommelli deliberately demolished through his sound design and to invent the modern orchestra, starting some time in Rome in 1740s.
Since we are following the paths of Sturm und Drang, it is interesting to notice here that the very first crescendo written on score by Jommelli belongs to 1741, to describe the storm in Merope. Soon after, however, this Jommelli's technique rapidly became a real full orchestra expressive sound nuance in his written scores without any kind of relation to any type whatsoever of programmatic depiction.
Apparently the first akward attempt (and without any solid future) to try something similar to the famously expressive natural and colourful modulated invention by Jommelli belongs to Locke's incidental music to describe the sea storm in The Tempest by Shakespeare (1675)!
6. Ian Page leads us through the first 1760s compositions of Sturm und Drang.
This chapter is also part of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary (1770-2020) of the Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, during which Mozart personally met the greatest Neapolitan and Bolognese masters.With this CD Ian Page has created a well designed selection of compositions from the 1760s and a real gallery of composers, who mastered that particular style called Sturm und Drang.
A Gallery of Composers
Gluck - Jommelli - Traetta - Beck - Haydn
a. Gluck: the beginning of Sturm und Drang in music with Don Juan/Don Giovanni
The CD cover chosen by Ian Page for his latest production on Sturm und Drang is particularly meaningful...
For Carpani, in fact, the style of Gluck is that of Caravaggio: an important choice, if we see in Gluck the possible initiator of the Sturm und Drang in music, with his Faustian ballet Don Juan/Don Giovanni (1761). Still today, most of the scholars consider Caravaggio the natural counterpart of Shakespeare in painting and various books have been written on this subject!
You see the luminous blade and the dramatic treatment of light, that literally fights his way on through the darkness.
This Finale of Gluck's Don Juan (we find here in the masterly accurate and detailed rendition of Ian Page, all wild lights and shades), may be certainly considered the beginning of the Sturm und Drang in music, at least, for two main reasons:
1. the programmatic Faustian Elizabethan theme: in 1587 there was a German proverb on the damnation of the alchemist dr. Faust and of his famous profanation dining with the devil and the dead, a profanation that sent him to Hell (see Raffaelli);
2. the magnificent masterly power of the score and of the music, full of a dynamic darkness cut by sudden luminous flashes and ominous figures (the symbolism of the divine punishment through the use of the trombone).
The level of quality of this work convinced Gluck (already recognized as a great composer by Durante himself) to organize an even totally organic systematization of the music for the theatre, the Reform, and that influenced composers such as Beethoven and Wagner.
As Ian Page remembers in his booklet, this was a very famous seminal piece.
From certain Mozart's pages to Paul Wranitzky, von Weber and probably even Wagner, etc., we may find various elements of reference. But probably the most direct, strict and precise use of the musical and orchestrational techniques of Gluck reappear in a few compositions by his once friend Dittersdorf, such as the Finales of the two Ovid Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2 (again symbols of metamorphosis and punishment!) and his highly successful Iob.
b. Jommelli & Traetta: the magnificence of the Neapolitan School
These are the two real surprise jewels of this CD Album for the Mozart's 250th Anniversary of this year 2020!
The interpretative highly and finely chiselled work by Ian Page here has reached the highest levels and Chiara Skerath has demostrated an astonishing sensitiveness and tragic ductility to confer, at the same time, drama and elegance!
Ian Page's Jommelli and Traetta, here in world's premiere recordings, are really of the most rarelly heard beauty!
1. Jommelli's music, ossia genius, spirit and fire!
For Carpani, the style of Jommelli was the highly expressive and emotional Ludovico Carracci, one of the major leaders and theorists of the Bologna school of painting.
You see here the dynamic appearing of the supernatural (the Madonna) in the everyday life rendered by Carracci through a skillful dynamic change of step in the use of the strokes of the brush and in the dramatic light: look, in particular, at the dynamic composition and at the movements of the voile and at the details of Vernet's stormy sea air, water spray and atmosphere.
This very painting by L. Carracci was considered one of his masterpieces and was named La Carraccina and was used as a model by an entire generation of young painters, who were studying the art of painting: among them, in particular, Guercino (one of the favourite and most appreciated painters of Goethe).
One interesting trait in common between Carracci and Jommelli is the well studied and theorized ductility of style to be adopted when rendering the different levels of emotions and dramas: the style must change in order to realistically follow and build the drama.
Jommelli's Fetonte 1768
As we have said previously, this page from Fetonte chosen by Ian Page is an exemplary prodigy of musical orfèvrerie.
We leave to the beautifully written booklet by Ian Page the amazing description of the many many luxurious astonishing details of the colossal production of Jommelli's Fetonte 1768 (earthquakes, underwater palaces, marine ballets and much more), we just remember here that you'll find in Mozart various lessons learned from Jommelli's art, from certain scenes of his Lucio Silla to that whole dramatic universe that are the accompanied recitatives of his Don Giovanni.
Jommelli meets Mozart: from 1763 to 1770 (250th Anniversary)
Leopold met Jommelli in Ludwigsburg in 1763, where Jommelli had established a musical environment with very high level standards of art and professionalism (as Leopold himself had to admit). On that occasion, Jommelli met the 7-year-old child prodigy Mozart and affirmed: «It is amazing and hardly believable that a child of German birth could be such a musical genius and with so much spirit and fire!».
Apart from this anecdote left by Leopold in his letters, through the years Jommelli's influence on Wolfgang Mozart progressively became (especially technically speaking) extremely important: from the 4-hands keyboard practice to Jommelli's sacred motets models, behind the Ave verum corpus. Moreover, that most famous Christian Cannabich, one of the pillars of the Mannheim orchestra, was a personal pupil of Jommelli. And the Cannabich family, with just few others from Mannheim, would long work with Wolfgang and would remain friend of Wolfgang and Constanze from 1777 to 1791 and even after.
We see here elements of Jommelli's Fetonte (1768) in Mozart.
Due to the very serious illness of his wife, Jommelli's career ended on low tones in Naples, where he had practically lost a part of the support of his public in the 1770s and even received some undeserved criticism, even after the great international success of many years and the many innovations introduced. And, on this a bit sad occasion, in 1770 Leopold and Wolfgang met him again in Naples and, according to Abert, Jommelli may have been well interested in producing an opera by Wolfgang, if Wolfgang had not already received that famous Mitridate commission by the Milan theatre.
«Jommelli is a civil man and his music is beautiful!», Mozart instinctively writes when he meets him at the opera theatre for the first time.
The other notes by Mozart written on the following days and about Jommelli's music «very beautiful, but too serious» was a common criticism in Naples in 1770s, apparently created by Paisiello and other people's of his party against Jommelli's too technically sophisticated scores for theatre (even with counterpoint!). See on this Kimbell and Einstein, but also contemporary sources like Burney and Schubart: so Mozart here was just retelling rumours heard circulating in the town; Mozart himself will be later accused of using too many notes.
The original letter was written by Wolfgang in Italian:
Two paintings from Naples, that belong to the 1770 Italian Tour, if confirmed, apparently portray Leopold and Wolfgang and Jommelli in the same room for a music of friends session in a Neapolitan house with sir Hamilton and Lord Portrose. Moreover, the Bolognese padre Martini received the Mozarts very well after their stay in Naples (that Martini, who considered Jommelli among his best pupils!). All this makes us think that Wolfgang and his father Leopold, in Naples, had received the blessing of the old big master, who, was going to die in 1774.
2. Traetta's opera chiaro ed oscuro and the fortune of Sophonisba
How Carpani aesthetically sees the strongly emotional music by Traetta, it can be easily comprehended by the images here infra.
The painter is Preti, and the whole drama and tragedy in the music by Traetta emerges, like in a painting by Preti, from the darkness, through an accurate and intense work of ambient occlusion shades that strives to get the surfaces and the volumes evenly lit. And this is the art of the theatre of Traetta and of his dramatic operas: his syncopations, his dramatic arabesques of notes figurations, his intense cumulation of sfs and oppressive and continuous uneven sound dynamics up to the expressionist non-music Urlo a la francese, which creates a peculiar strong and warm feeling of drama at the same time. ... Urlo a la francese: it was called in this way, because it was a direct imitation of the Nature itself (Sturm und Drang), according to some French aesthetics of that time... that's to say, a scream as you hear it in Nature.
According to a famous letter by Leopold Mozart about Wolfgang's Mitridate premiere of 1770, the main characteristics of opera must be the representation and the expression of the chiaro ed oscuro (i.e. the lights and the shades, through progressive nuances between the two opposite sides), a term which indicates also a peculiar painting technique, we well recognize in Preti. This definition of opera writing is practically the very definition of the art of Traetta and the rendition of Ian Page and Chiara Skerath really captures all the incredible levels and tragic nuances of this masterpiece score by Traetta.
The art and the influential innovations of the Neapolitan master Traetta are so important in the history of music that Abert in his monumental life of Mozart wrote many important pages on them and about their impression on and use by the young composer prodigy from Salzburg.
Traetta and Jommelli and the Mannheim Mannerisms
The opera Sofonisba was a deluxe colossal 1762 masterpiece production for Mannheim and the compositional and orchestral emotional techniques, effects and devices of both Traetta and Jommelli were to leave a profound and enduring mark in the DNA of that famous orchestra of all generals (Burney). De facto, the characteristic music formulas, the dynamics and the notes figurations in rhythm and music you find here and in some other compositions by Jommelli of those years, and the full orchestra volume masses moving from pp to ff and vice versa as a unique body of sounds (for Reichardt, invented by Jommelli), will become that part of that collection of music emotional devices, that are generally known also as the Mannheim Mannerisms.
For a synthetical presentation of the main elements typical of the Mannheim Mannerisms, their use after their introduction (especially in Sturm und Drang) and their origin from Jommelli, Galuppi and others, you can read our MozartCircle brief paper:
MozartCircle - The Mannheim Mannerisms (October 2015)
It is a fact, that most of the most important works of research and the original documents on this subject had clearly demonstrated that the origin and first use of certain music figurations and techniques called Mannheim Mannerisms were first invented or introduced by Jommelli, Traetta and the others even in the 1740s, often with the very deliberate intent to break the old Baroque music tradition and style and to explore new expressive possibilities of the orchestra... ... so well before Gluck and Mannheim style codifications: see Reichardt (1774-1776), but also Spitzer-Zaslaw (2004) among others.
Chiara Skerath on the expressionist Urlo alla Francese of Traetta's Sophonisba
Traetta's Sofonisba 1762: a long lasting theatre fortune of a character
With Judith, Armida, Alceste and Antigone, Sophonisba was one of the most loved, popular and adored female characters of opera throughout the whole 18th century and well into the 19th century. Moreover, the subject was a typical 18th century revival of Renaissance and Late Renaissance prose tragedies: in particular the model of most of the 18th century Sophonisba operas was substantially the tragedy by Trissino (1514/15, but premiere only in 1556).
From 1708 to 1805 ca. 15 operas were produced and many by the most notable masters of that era (Gluck, Leo, Jommelli, Galuppi up to Paer), 1 melologue and 2 ballets. But the great fortune of this character will well last until 1914 into the first full lenghth feature films ever!
Nonetheless, still today it is only Traetta's Sofonisba that is considered The Masterpiece par excellence and in particular for his almost legendary masterly compositional writing of the extremely intense and emotional scenes of the main female character. Many scenes of Traetta's Sofonisba reach a real amazing never heard before level of expressive violence (Mattei, Rome 2019). But see also Carrer (Torino 1988) and others (Torino 1999).
This female character and her tragic story was so profoundly felt by the audience of that period that Sofonisba is one of the very fewest operas which was set in music by a woman composer, who was active as a composer between Milan and Naples, Maria Teresa Agnesi-Pinottini (1765). Daughter of an important aristocratic family, she wrote also a series of vocal compositions for Maria Theresa of Austria and she was among the Milanese ladies who received and personally met the Mozarts (Leopold and Wolfgang) in their salons during the Mozart's stay in Milan in 1770.
The Traettas in the newly born USA
Another curious fact on Traetta and which certainly reflects the atmospheres of political and social upheavels of the 1770s is that his son Filippo (after having taken some risky position during the various Revolutions) is among the very first European musicians and composers to settle finally in the newly born United States (1799) and is among those who established a well enduring classical music tradition on the East Coast between Boston, New York and Philadelphia (where he founded the American Conservatory), through many Academies, activities of promotion and public concerts.
c. Beck: the avant-garde of Mannheim
Unfortunately, Beck, like all the Bachs, Myslivecek, Pleyel, Dussek and many others, was not in the 1812 comparison list of Carpani Composers-Painters and so we have not an authoritative visualization of his art of music.
However, Ian Page's choice for the 1759 Vernet of the CD Cover may well represent both the adventurous art and the rather adventurous life of the man, who spent great part of his life in towns near the sea and the Atlantic Ocean (Marseilles and then in Bordeaux as celebrated music leader).
Beck, pupil of Stamitz (Mannheim) and Galuppi (Venice), was a typical Mannheim composer, who used all the devices of that Mannheim highly celebrated art (built in part also on a few Jommelli's and Traetta's practices and innovations). Nonetheless, his personal character (apparently rather igneous: he himself destroyed most of his operas) and his extremely personal artistic independent development created a symphonic world that rapidly went beyond the teachings of the schools he belonged to.
His orchestral compositions, especially from 1762 on, reach such levels of drama, created through the continuous violent contrast of the dynamics and of the timbres and colours of his music and the unpredictability and, at the same time, the thematic correlations and connections of certain choices in both the technical structure and the musical flow, and the masterly tragic tone of his chromaticism constructions (see the very beginning of his Symphony in G)... reach such levels of drama that we are well before a sort of Sturm und Drang avant-garde man, already in the direction more of the Romanticism than anything else.
Two distinctive passages of Beck's style
Beck's symphonic scores are a real case of study for the scholars, because a few techniques used in them (i.e. thematic development, inversion of themes, a feverish concentration of the rhythm and all skillfully treated as if the composition were a tragic naturality) will reappear only in the late Haydn and in Beethoven.
It is a fact that Beethoven adored studying and analyzing scores of other composers, especially in search of highly peculiar, expressive, bizarre or diverse treatments: apart from Haydn and Mozart, a few well known and well documented territories of Beethovenian wandering were Kraus, P. Wranitzky, Dittersdorf, Knecht and even a few hymns of the French Revolution.
Another curious fact is that this symphony by Beck is in G minor, the same key as the most famous and celebrated Symphony No. 25 K. 183 by Mozart, usually considered modeled on a few dramatic symphonies by Vanhal, the pupil of Dittersdorf, who became, with his compositions, one of the symbols both of the Mannheim techniques and of the Sturm und Drang.
d. Haydn: the powerful creative isolation of a genius
For Carpani the style of Haydn was a combination of various great painters, where the highly emotional and dynamic Tintoretto has the predominant position. In other Haydn's works you'll appreciate more the Haydn Raffaello, the Haydn Tiziano and the Haydn Michelangelo, Carpani says, but the major hallmark remains that sense of powerful drive (Drang) and dynamic drama, that emerges from the compositions by the Esterhazys' court composer.
This Sturm und Drang symphony by Haydn is certainly among those that Carpani (Haydn's biographer, 1812) would have defined a Tintoretto Symphony. The sounds, even in the slow movements, are like cutting edges and in the fast ones you'll physically perceive brush-strokes of music like sudden flashes of light which emerges from a stormy turmoil of sounds and colours. The magnificent and pivotal role of horns in conveying a sense of tragic culmination to the whole sound texture is here masterly rendered and directed by the wise and intense gesture of Ian Page.
It is a fact that this very popular symphony by Haydn (written in 1768 and with many 18th century copies across Europe) was formally a so called sonata da chiesa symphony. Whatever the origin of its nickname La Passione well documented since 1780s, this symphony features Haydn's own special and personal treatment and development of the Sturm und Drang Mannheim Sigh, which characterizes the whole first movement.
The more accurate listener will recognize, already in this symphony of the 1760s, some Haydnesque musical typical devices from the use of horns to the treatment of the flowing of the sections musical discourse that would attract the young Beethoven some years later.
The extra-correct choice of Ian Page to include the Aria from Haydn's La Canterina (1766) can be certainly defined the most Shakespearean of all of them.
Sturm und Drang music in a comedy?
But, this is the most perfect recipe of all Shakespeare's recipes, the playwright who leads his audience to an almost orgiastic sensual rapture operated on the public by his very fine arts: while the people are crying for the most desperate and devastating tragedy, make them suddenly laugh; while the people are laughing, devastate their feelings with the most obscure and absurd tragedy.
This mixture of tears and laughters is certainly one of the truest and subtlest essences of the Shakespearean Sturm und Drang, and in La Canterina we can say that Haydn has well demonstrated that He is Shakespeare at the same artistic level as the real one.
As Ian Page has well underlined in his speeches and interviews on Haydn and the Sturm und Drang, this powerful and dynamic art which highly impressed his contemporaries (the 1768 symphony La Passione was among his most loved compositions ever) and which still impresses us so much was the fruit of very long periods of meditations, of an authentic sensorial isolation from the rest of the world and the truest listening to the voice of his own heart, that was going to speak the language that the whole world comprehends and speaks (as Haydn told Mozart in 1790), the language of music dictated by the inner Drang of your heart.
e. Jommelli's and Traetta's innovations and gratitude towards Ian Page and his collaborators
The musical innovations introduced by Jommelli can be summarized as follows:
• more freedom in the organization of the Opera Aria to underline the drama and the tragedy and creation of bigger and more complex opera scenes with a more complex stage action and overture thematically related to the rest of opera (see Fetonte 1768);
• the fundamental introduction of the new full orchestral dynamic performance of piano and forte passages (see on this the account by Reichardt, Briefe, Frankfurt 1774-1776), with the precise intent to emotionally impress the audience with a full and intense orchestra sound;
• the accompanied recitatives with their intense, word by word chiseled technique, which Mozart furtherly developed and reused;
• a much more vigorous and full orchestration, than the usual Neapolitan and Gluckian neat and thin tradition, with some addition even of counterpoint, another technical characteristic in common with the future production of Mozart;
• the introduction/invention of the harpsichord 4-hands duo;
• the development of the sacred motets, a model for Mozart's Ave verum corpus.
Traetta's innovations and which left an important impression on Wolfgang (but see Abert for a full treatment with Jommelli and de Majo):
• a strong emotional musical involvement in the drama, characterized by the warmth and intensity of the tragic musical elocution;
• the typical use of dramatic formulas and figurations in notes and orchestral passages;
• the variation of the musical elements.
Later 19th and 20th century music critics will call both Jommelli and Traetta the Italian Glucks, however a few of their orchestral and opera innovations predate Gluck's works and opera reform (ca. 1763).
It is a fact that already in the 1770s and 1780s many professionals, such as Saverio Mattei, considered Jommelli and Traetta the real inventors of some technical and orchestral innovations that were then attributed to Gluck's reform.
Nonetheless, so said, Gluck's very strong self-consciousness in the cultural operation he was carrying on and the strong Faustian programmatic value of his work, certainly makes his Don Juan 1761 the very ideal point of beginning of the Sturm und Drang in music.
Our immense gratitude goes here to Ian Page, Chiara Skerath and the whole The Mozartists/Classical Opera orchestra and equipe for their excellent, superb and superlative job done in producing this CD, which rightly appears published in May 2020, on the very occasion of the 250th Anniversary of the 1770 formative Italian Journey of the 14-year-old Wolfgang and which finally let us fully appreciate and enjoy that special intense high art of music by these great international Neapolitan masters that so much then long impressed, influenced and inspired the young genius Mozart for the rest of his life.
Ian Page in conversation with James Jolly of Gramophone Magazine: among the various subjects also the peculiar music techniques of the Sturm und Drang.
7. Ian Page: establishing a tradition within style and aesthetics.
As we have seen in the previous parts, Ian Page proves here to have and possess a total command of the different levels of style and aesthetics behind and required by each single author chosen for this first Volume dedicated to the Sturm und Drang movement in music.
The importance of this operation by Ian Page fundamentally constitutes its foundations on the necessity of establishing a correct, solid and valuable interpretative tradition for composers, whose music, unfortunately and undeservedly, was known as being important and beautiful, but mostly remained as mute ink on paper for two centuries.
In this respect, we sincerely hope that this magnificent CD by Ian Page and that his whole collection of seven discs will become a model of style and aesthetical research.
As a matter of fact music is a very peculiar type of, so to say, aerial artistic monument: it lives only when it is masterly reproduced and simply doesn't exist, as long as it remains on paper.
And with this CD Ian Page has revealed to us what kind of portentous, stupendous and highly influential musical masterpieces have nowadays only life on ancient papers.
And it's exactly here that this CD Album by Ian Page shines now above the storm as a beacon in the tempest. This CD is a light and a model to look at and follow, lest a magnificent and gorgeous single note will be left, deprived of her natural life, abandoned unperfomed on an old piece of paper.
When, in the evening, the laser light will end its brightly wandering on the plastic surface of your CD and the sounds and notes will melt into thin air as magic actors, you'll find yourself asking for more from all this... more Jommelli, more Traetta, more Gluck, more Beck, more Haydn, more Chiara Skerath, more Ian Page and his productions.
With this CD of an astonishing beauty, Ian Page has really acted as a beneficent demiurge recalling to life the experience of the Longinian Sublime from the tenebrae of the undeservedly abandoned scores of the 18th century (you'll find three extraordinary and breath-taking World's première recordings in his CD!).
Thus, through the tempest of the modern and present times, you'll love to be a cast-away on the island of Sturm und Drang Vol. 1, as a revered guest of your magnificent Prospero/CD Player, administering his spells of impalpable essence and beauty, directly from the books of art of Ian Page's magic!
Thank you Maestro and Ad maiora!
S. & L.M. Jennarelli
Homer, Odyssey XII, 393-396 / 405-444
The Sturm und Drang punishment of Ulysses by the gods.
[Some time after the Nekya episode with its visions of the World of the Dead (which have certainly some Sumerian model) and of the remunerations in the Afterlife, Ulysses discovers the profanation dining of his men (see Faust 1587 and Don Juan/Don Giovanni) with the sacred meat of the cows of the god Sun, driven his men by a senseless will to acts of wrong doing. And the gods make their appearance with consequent ominous supernatural prodigies.]
The cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at once to show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the cattle crawled about, and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows, and the meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a noise just as cows do.
[divine punishment for the act of profanation of eating the meat of the sacred cows and the shipwreck]
The son of Kronos raised a black cloud over our ship,
and the sea grew dark beneath it.
[...] we were caught by a terrific squall the wind Zephyrus, that snapped the forestays of the mast so that it fell aft, while all the ship's gear tumbled about at the bottom of the vessel. [...]
Then Zeus let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went round and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were carried about in the water round the black ship, looking like so many ravens, but the god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home again. [...]
Charybdis was then sucking down the salt sea water, but I was carried aloft toward the fig tree, which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. [...]
so I hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge my mast and raft again [...] At last I let go with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the sea, hard by my raft from the shattered pieces of my ship and on to that raft I then got, and began to row with my hands. [...]
[Ulysses will end as a cast-away on the remote magic island of the nymph Calypso]
In these powerful Homeric pages of ca. 3200 years ago, we find the ancestral dimension of the Sturm und Drang's Odyssiac elements: sea voyages towards the Unknown and the Undiscovered, magic and supernatural, senseless acts and wrong doing, profanation dining against the gods, diis iniuria and divine punishment, shipwreck and cast away, life on remote islands of magic, lands of supernatural creatures, contrasted loves, visions of the Afterlife and the remuneration for Good and Evil acting...
from Odyssey, Book XII, 393-396 / 405-444
Core narration: ca. 1235-1184 BC
Homeric Greek form: ca. 9th/8th century BC
The themes of the visions of or of the descent into the realms of the Afterlife, of the shipwreck and the cast-away, of the mistake and the punishment were already in the even more ancient Sumerian literature, which, in part, was a model for Homer.
The Longianian treatise On the Sublime and the Late Renaissance and Elizabethan Age theatre plays carried the story of Ulysses with all its very distinctive Odyssiac elements well into the Sturm und Drang of the 18th century up to the Shakepearean The Tempest libretto to be set in music by Mozart in 1791.
Alcaeus, fr. 34
The sea tempest and the Dioscuri.
... and, jumping from the masts of ships of beautiful benches through the sea tempests, you, two Dioscuri gods, run up along the forestays bright and the light beneficent to the black ship bearing in the darkness of the night... (Alcaeus, Fragment No. 34, ca. 620 BC)
One of the many ancient poems and literature passages, based on the archetypal Odyssey.