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Lili Kraus and the Reception of Mozartís Keyboard Works
a paper by Frans Schreuder
from the book:
Mozart and the Netherlands (p. 101)
This paper with other four in this book (presented here by The Keyboard Bugler) is a paper dedicated to the technique of the keyboard playing and/or to the keyboard repertoire by Mozart.

Lili Kraus and the real Mozart Renaissance within the Dutch School
The many merits of this beautiful and, at the same time, rather inspirational paper by Frans Schreuder are:
      1. that his work recalls a particular moment of the history of classical music (between 1900 and WWII), when the main composers of the First Vienna School (i.e. Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert) and their music (especially that for keyboard) were treated in a rather whimsical and not systemic manner by the majority of the professional piano players;
      2. that his work follows the long and accurate process of creating a real Mozart keyboard Renaissance (both in the score and in the performance), thanks to the felicitous collaboration of a wonderful pianist, like Lili Kraus, and a formidable scholar and composer/musician like Marius Flothuis;
      3. that this accurate work of Lili Kraus and Marius Flothuis, which (already in 1930s) created also the solid basis for what then became the Historically Informed Practice in Music, must be seen within the frame of activities of the Dutch Mozartian Associations [well treated in other papers of this book], which, since the end of the 19th century, had tried, on various occasions, to improve the common perception, knowledge and performance of the music by Mozart and this in direct collaboration with the Mozarteum of Salzburg.

From the strange preconceptions on some great composers to the first historical approach to the score and the performance
In a period between the 1900 and the 1930s, the common attitude of the professional pianists towards the great masters of the First Vienna School was rather strange and had a strong influence on the common way of performing their works for keyboard.
      Beethoven was considered the supreme genius, while Mozart was a minor preparation to Beethoven and Haydn a minor preparation to Mozart and Schubert a long-winded not completely competent Beethoven. This erroneous attitude led to a scarce interest in the scores and in their original forms and in an even scarcer interest in the quality and in the techniques of interpretation.
      A first attempt to improve the knowledge and the technique of performance of these authors on the keyboard was due to three legendary pianists: Landowska, Schnabel and, in particular, Edwin Fischer.
      The fundamental work of research and reconstruction of Lili Kraus starts here, thanks to her stay in the Netherlands in the 1930s and her collaboration with Marius Flothuis (then a young scholar).
      Lili Kraus (a wonderful pupil of the school of Bartok and much admired by Schnabel) decided to organize a series of concerts/events with Marius Flothuis in order to give a performance of Mozart, which had to be the most accurate possible (historically speaking) and also the most respectful possible of the original score, by maintaining, for example, the original cadenzas, etc.
      Already in the 1937, Lili Kraus had the idea that probably one should have to try to play Mozart on his own orginal instruments, like her own fortepiano of 1780. With the help of Marius Flothuis she built a systemic historical approach to the performance:
      1. a correct study of C.P.E. Bach;
      2. the organization of an orchestra of 45 performers in the style of Mannheim;
      3. reconstruction of the Mozartian rubato;
      4. completion of the parts of K491 with Marius Flothuis;
      and all the details and other in the paper of Schreuder...
      All this work of preparation led to a legendary Season of Concerts 1939-1940, which was a great success and, under a certain point of view, a milestone in the history of the Mozart Renaissance.
      Unfortunately this part of work was suddenly interrupted by the dramatic events of WWII, which saw Lili Kraus and her family leave the Netherlands for the Dutch Indies, where they ended up in a Japanese concentration camp, from which they were rescued only on 15 August 1945.

The difficult period after WWII and the success of Lili's concerts and recordings on Mozart
A new beginning after the events of WWII was rather difficult for Lili Kraus. However, she managed to carry on her work, re-starting from the achievements in the preparation of the 1930s.
      All this led to two fundamental moments in Lili's career, which Schreuder treats in all their interesting details (also technical and, sometimes, built around a dialogical relationship with Marius Flothuis and his ideas): the period 1948-1956 with a first series of important recordings of Mozart's works and the period 1966-1968 with successful concerts in the US and legendary recordings of Mozart's piano concertos and piano sonatas.
      In the end, Lili Kraus has a perfect conscience of having defined a path to an important historically accurate style of Mozartian interpretation and sees in Malcom Bilson and Murray Perahia two different elements of continuity of her work on Mozart.

Lili Kraus (1903-1986) 
                                      __________________
Lili Kraus plays Mozart Piano Concertos

RECORDING
Lili Kraus - Vienna Festival Orchestra, Stephen Simon
Lili Kraus plays Mozart Piano Concertos
MozartCircle
S. & L.M. Jennarelli