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16 July 1782, #onthisday Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (The Abduction from the Seraglio) premiered at the Vienna Burgtheater with the composer conducting.


Mozart composed an intricately woven, timeless masterpiece. And intricately woven enough to make its enlightened absolutist commissioner Emperor Joseph II complain “Zu schön für unsere Ohren, und gewaltig viel Noten, lieber Mozart!", too beautiful for our ears and a mighty lot of notes and dear Mozart answered to his sovereign and eternity: “There are just as many notes as there should be“ while he used a cliché-laden libretto and its contemporary pop culture elements like hareem fantasies and lustful Turks and turned it into a surprisingly deep polyloque.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/07/in-moorish-lands-maiden-fair-mozarts-il.html

Depicted below is Anton Hickel’s "Roxelana and the Sultan" from 1780, an example of the then fashionable “Turquerie”, created about the same time as Mozart’s opera.

#culturalhistory #europeanmusic #musicalhistory
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1 November 1604, #onthisday on "Hallamas Day, being the first of Nouembar” performed by “the Kings Maiesties plaiers", Shakespeare’s “Othello” premiered at the Palace of Whitehall in London.

The yarn about the nameless Moorish captain and his ensign as handed down by Boccaccio’s disciple Cinthio in 1565 is actually a sensationalist and xenophobic cock-and-bull story about savages in foreign parts, governed by their instincts, blood, thunder, homicide and the lack of honour among thieves and murderers. Combined with the appearance of fascinatingly alien ambassadors from the Barbary Coast at Good Queen Bess’ court, noble, but not savage at all, it is Shakespeare’s merit to blend boulevard stories into a universally human drama where xenophobia and savage emotions are but stylistic devices to describe a spiritual abyss. The murder of the young, beautiful and well-spoken Desdemona is no longer Cinthio’s simplistic cry of “serves you right for marrying a foreigner!” but almost a ritual act, a futile human sacrifice to set a world that has gone off the rails to its rights again. And Othello has become a byword for the infamous green-eyed monster of jealousy.


But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/on-othellos-premier-in-1604.html

Depicted below is William Mulready’s (1786–1863) “Othello“, showing the famous African-American actor Ira Aldridge (1807 – 1867) as the play’s hero, probably during a performance in London in 1833.


#culturalhistory #europeanliterature #literature

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29 October 1787, #onthisday Mozart’s opera Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, “Don Giovanni”, was premiered at the Teatro di Praga, now the Estates Theatre, in Prague.

Actually, “Don Giovanni should have been an “opera buffa”, a comic opera. Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, responsible for the libretti of "Le nozze di Figaro" and "Così fan tutte" as well, did his best to keep the subject matter in the tradition of the 18th century’s view of the character of Don Juan that succeeded Tierso de Molina’s original, preachy treatment of the motif. Da Ponte’s Don Giovanni is no longer de Molina’s Don Juan, an irresistible seducer, he is ageing, none of his attempts to hustle somebody succeeds, his attributed lust for living is confined to guzzling champagne and his only claim for greatness is his assessment that there would be no more repentance for him and his inimical “No!”. Shallow, if it were not for Mozart’s sinister, dramatic and fierce fundamental tone in D minor and an extraordinaire instrumentation E.T.A. Hoffmann described as an orchestral tempest with notes shining forth like lightning bolts of ethereally moulded metal.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/mozart-and-il-dissoluto-punito-ossia-il.html


Depicted below is Ilya Repin’s: “The Stone Guest. Don Juan and Doña Ana“, 1885


#europeanmusic #music #musicalhistory

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27 October 1782, #onthisday the “devil’s violinist” Niccolò Paganini was born in Genoa.


Faust and his thirst for knowledge is an early outlier among the “Teufelsbündler”, the people who struck a deal with the devil. The motif dates back to the late Middle Ages and Old Nick is usually approached for material gain, worldly power or to win a lover’s heart. Usually, they are moral tales, ending in tears and eternal damnation, sometimes, though, the devil is outwitted by a shrewd peasant. But in the wake of Milton’s reframing of Satan and the rediscovery of Marlowe, the faustian bargain began to take another shape and a different connotation – rather more sophisticated since the Romantic Movement’s fascination for the Gothic, shadowy and nocturnal, especially in the arts. And while a lot of Romantic artists were rumoured to be possessed by the devil, the image of the virtuoso selling his soul to the devil to gain perfection was especially connected with musicians and Paganini was the best known of them.


But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/many-creatures-are-of-rather-demonic.html


Depicted below is Eugene Delacroix’s portrait of Paganini from 1832
.


#culturalhistory #europeanmusic #folklore #musichistory #mythology


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19 October 1845, #onthisday Richard Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser” premiered at the Royal Theatre in Dresden.


Collecting and re-writing legends, myths and fairy tales was in full swing during the first decades of the 19th century, especially in the German-speaking areas. The Brothers Grimm started the trend that became an integral part of the Romantic Movement, elementary, in fact, like few others and Heinrich Heine, with sharp wit and pen, had already put his very own ironic views of these tales to paper. A couple of years later, Wagner subtracted the irony and formulated his own Gesamtkunstwerk out of Heine’s apostilles, in the case of Tannhäuser with a dash of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tieck and Bechstein. An ensemble usually doesn’t get any more Romantically moved than that. Tannhäuser’s archetypical tale of the artist type who expires to the fairy queen or pagan goddess under the hill is told in variations all across northern Europe from Ireland to Russia. The antagonism of spirit and flesh in “Tannhäuser”, his dilemma during the Singer’s Contest at Wartburg, winning the award by praising Frau Venus under the hill and thereby losing his more mundane love interest, Elizabeth, the local potentate’s niece along with salvation and finally his pilgrimage to seek redemption are genuine and real conflicts of the Middle Ages are resounding in the tale. In Rome, Pope Urban IV declares Tannhäuser beyond redemption for his fooling around with a pagan goddess and rather his pilgrim staff would blossom than the knight’s sins would be forgiven. However, three days later, the thing is in full bloom, belying papal infallibility.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/listening-in-rapt-pleasure-to.html

Depicted below is John Collier’s (1850 – 1934) imagination of Tannhäuser adoring Frau Venus
(1901)

#europeanmusic #music #musichistory #mythology

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17 October 1849, #onthisday Frédéric Chopin died in Paris.


The Paris of the 1830s and ‘40s probably was the best of all possible worlds for a young artist. A couple of weeks after the emerging superstar had left Warsaw, the November Uprising against the rule of the Tsar over Congress Poland broke out and soon his Polish compatriots fought no longer for their national identity alone but for their their bare survival. 40,000 fell while fighting the superior Russian army, 80,000 more went in chains to Siberia after Count Pakevich had established proper Tsarist order again in 1831. Following the advice of his French father, Chopin had settled in Paris for good in the meanwhile and wrote back home: “I have arrived in the most beautiful of all worlds”. Nevertheless, his works that included so many elements of his native country, became something of the background music for Poland’s ceaseless struggle for independence during the 19th century while Chopin was in exile and at leisure to become immortal.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/it-is-not-good-for-one-to-be-sad-and.html

Depicted below is a painting by the Polish Romantic painter Teofil Kwiatowski (1809 – 1891), commissioned by Jane Stirling and probably paid for by Jenny Lind, showing “Chopin on his deathbed” and (from left) Aleksander Jełowicki, Chopin's sister Ludwika,Marcelina Czartoryska, née Radziwiłł, Wojciech Grzymała, and Kwiatkowski himself.


#europeanhistory #europeanmusic #history #musichistory
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10 October 1813, #onthisday Giuseppe Verdi was born in Le Roncole in the French occupied Dukedom of Parma as “Joseph Fortunin François Verdi“.

Maybe the most striking, if not always obvious, feature of Verdi’s oeuvre is that he created seminal, sophisticated music a lot of people actually liked and sang when they left the opera. Together with Wagner, Verdi was the man who completed the transition of the 18th century’s number opera with its solitary musical pieces, numbers, into an inherently consistent whole, a through-composed concept that combined a story that merged with the music from the beginning to the end. Wagner called it in his “Music of the Future” (1860), the “endlose Melodie”, an endless melody, but where Wagner flew, Verdi, on his own admission, “walked the untrodden path”, with less bombast and the effect that his operas belong as well to the standard repertoire around the world but far more of his themes have also taken root in popular consciousness and culture, from “La donna è mobile” to the “Grand March” from “Aida”.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/melody-and-harmony-should-be-simply.html

Depicted below is Giovanni Boldini’s (1842 – 1931) famous “Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi” (1886)

#europeanmusic, #music, #musichistory

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31 January 1912, #onthisday "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", written and first performed by Jack Judge, premiered in a Stalybridge music hall in the Greater Manchester area. 


When yours truly drove down the N24 from Limerick for the first time, one could still see the "You've come a long way..." signs. I whistled the tune, again, naturally, even though Tipperary had created the Tipperary International Peace Award, described as "Ireland's outstanding award for humanitarian work" six years before to counter against the town being associated with war and popular war songs. Still though, the song and at least the name of the town is best remembered across the world in association with Tommies marching to the Great War, from pop icons like the crew of “Das Boot” to Marcie from the “Peanuts” singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/01/youve-come-long-way-premier-of-another.html 

Depicted below is a sheet music cover from a United States/Canada issue of "It’s a Long Way to Tipperary“ (before 1918)

#culturalhistory #europeanhistory   #europeanmusic   #history   #militaryhistory
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18 December 1810, #onthisday at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire in a not-so-clean fight for the English title, boxing champion Tom Cribb from Bristol accepted the challenge of Tom Molineaux, an ex-slave from Virginia, and defended his title by KO in the 35th round.

It was, in all probability, not a matter of racism but just an extremely unsporting outbreak of national pride and fear of losing betting money, when a crowd of spectators prevented an American-born contender for the title of British champion from winning and Tom Molineaux, the celebrated “Black Ajax” became something of a tragic hero in the process, fate, hubris and all. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/12/a-brave-black-man-is-molineaux-british.html

Depicted below is George Cruickshank’s: "The battle between Crib [Cribb] and Molineaux" from 1811

#culturalhistory, #europeanhistory , #history , #sporthistory
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#onthisday  in 1778, George “Beau” Brummell, wit, first true English dandy, camp follower of Prinny and arbiter of men’s fashion, was born in London.

“If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed" Beau Brummell once said, the godfather of the English dandy and, according to Thomas Carlyle, nothing more than a witty clothes rack. And while the archetype of the dandy and especially half-baked beaus who tried to follow suit were ridiculed by contemporary caricaturists, Brummell set the pace not only for modern men’s formal clothing but an entire school of well-dressed intellectual aristocracy, from Byron to Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/06/bedford-do-you-call-this-thing-coat.html

Depicted below is Richard Dighton’s 1805 caricature of Beau Brummell

#arthistory  #culturalhistory  #dandyism  #europeanhistory  #history  #literarturehistory  #literature  #socialhistory
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