Travels with Mozart, Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute

Travels with Mozart, Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute

Versions:

  • Chamber Orchestra (2005)
  • Wind Ensemble (14 players) (2016)

Works

Technical Information

Duration – 15:36

Theme “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen”

Variation I, London- Symphony no.1

Variation II, Munich- Minuet

Variation III, Mannheim- The Mannheim Orchestra

Variation IV, Rome- Allegri’s Miserere

Variation V, Prague- Furiant

Variation VI, Vienna- TheTurkish Influence

Variation VII, Paris- Gavotte

Finale, Naples- Tarantella

Instrumentation

Chamber Orchestra

2(2=picc).2(2=ehn).2.2./2.2.0.0./timp.1perc./strings

(alternate part combining timpani and percussion for 1 player)

The Tarantella (Finale) can be performed as a separate concert piece (4:00)

Wind Ensemble (14 Players)

2(2=picc).2(2=Eh).2.2./2.1.0.0./timp(+perc).1perc./0.0.0.0.1.

(alternate part combining timpani and percussion for 1 player)

The Tarantella (Finale) can be performed as a separate concert piece (4:00)

 

Program Notes

Travels with Mozart:  Variations on a Theme from “The Magic Flute” seeks to explore the ways in which exposure to a variety of cultures can positively affect an artist and his music.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an excellent example of a composer who came in to contact with diverse cultural influences in the second half of the eighteenth century.  Leopold Mozart knew that raising his prodigiously gifted son in provincial Salzburg would limit his musical development (and future employment).  Leopold introduced his son Wolfgang to a lifestyle of travel which would see Wolfgang tour nine countries and visit over two hundred European cities.  Wolfgang spent one third of his lifetime traveling, experiencing a great variety of cultures, music and musicians.   Mozart was also eager to learn about and be influenced by cultures outside of Europe.  The Turkish influence on Mozart’s music is well known through such compositions as the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, the Piano Sonata in A Major, K330, (with the famous Rondo alla Turca) and the Violin Concerto #5.  Beda Hubner, librarian at St. Peter’s in Salzburg wrote in his diary on November 29, 1765:

There is a strong rumour that the Mozart family will again not long remain here, but will soon visit the whole of Scandinavia and the whole of Russia, and perhaps even travel to China, which would be a far greater journey and bigger undertaking still….

Obviously, the Mozart family did not have this experience, but it is interesting to consider that they apparently thought about making these trips.

Like Mozart, Royer has been profoundly influenced by exposure to a diversity of cultures, music and musicians through travel, recordings and living in multicultural cities such as Toronto and Los Angeles.   In Travels with Mozart:  Variations on a Theme from “The Magic Flute”, Royer references and pays tribute to a variety of cultural influences from North and South America to Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Each variation is titled after a city in which Mozart spent a fair amount of time and is based on a musical element or idea that was present in that city during Mozart’s time.

Variation No. 1 – London: Mozart’s Symphony No. 1

Mozart wrote his first symphony in London at age 8 or 9 influenced by J.C. Bach and C.F. Abel.

Variation No. 2 – Munich: Minuet

Mozart wrote numerous minuets during his life and composed some excellent examples of this genre in Munich.

Variation No. 3 – Mannheim: The Mannheim Orchestra

The Mannheim orchestra was famous for its technical expertise including dramatic dynamic changes and the crescendo.  The orchestra was also one of the first groups to include clarinets and overall, greatly influenced Mozart.

Variation No. 4 – Rome: Allegri’s Miserere

Allegri’s Miserere was only allowed to be performed in the Sistine Chapel.  Mozart heard this music and remarkably, was able to write down the music from memory.

Variation No. 5 – Prague: Furiant

The Furiant is a common Czech dance that emerged as a form late in Mozart’s life.  The minuet from Mozart’s symphony no. 40 uses rhythms similar to ones found in a Furiant.

Since the rhythm of a Furiant is similar to some common Latin American rhythms, Royer added other Latin American elements including the use of conga drums.

Variation No. 6 – Vienna: The Turkish Influence

Turkish military music was popular in Vienna (and other European cities) and was a well known influence in Mozart’s music.  Royer wrote this variation in the style of Turkish classical music of the Ottoman era.

Variation No. 7 – Paris: Gavotte

The Gavotte was a popular French dance. Mozart wrote a couple of Gavottes including one for a Paris performance.  Royer combined the Gavotte with elements of Gamelan music from Bali.

Finale – Naples: Tarantella

A popular Neapolitan dance named after the tarantula spider, its origin predates Mozart’s time.  Included in this variation is a quote from Beethoven’s Variations for cello and piano based on the same Mozart theme as Royer’s composition.  Mozart met Beethoven as a young man and was impressed by him.

The Commissioning of Travels with Mozart

For the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in 2006, Canadian composer Ronald Royer was commissioned to compose by a group of five orchestras, with performances in three countries, Travels with Mozart: Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute for chamber orchestra. The five orchestras were:  Jyvaskyla Sinfonia (Finland), Patrick Gallois, conductor; Peterborough Symphony Orchestra (Canada), Michael Newnham, conductor; Scarborough Philharmonic (Canada), John Barnum, conductor; International Symphony Orchestra of Sarnia/Port Huron (Canada/U.S.A.), Jerome Summers, conductor; and Toronto Sinfonietta (Canada), Matthew Jaskiewicz, conductor.  Sinfonia Mississauga (Canada), John Barnum conductor, also supported and performed Travels with Mozart.

In 2004, the Jyvaskyla Sinfonia co-commissioned (with Orchestras Mississauga) Ronald Royer to compose Dances with Time, which was the first time a Canadian composer’s music was performed by this excellent professional chamber orchestra. Due to the success of this event, music director Patrick Gallois and the Jyvaskyla Sinfonia commissioned Mr. Royer to compose a new work to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. In Canada, the Peterborough Symphony and conductor Michael Newnham took the lead in developing this project, inviting other orchestras to take part in commissioning and performing this new work. The International Symphony gave the United States premiere.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation (based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

In 2016, Ronald Royer arranged Travels with Mozart for a 14 player wind ensemble for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s Canadian Panorama concert and recording.

The wind ensemble version of Travels with Mozart was recorded for the Canadian Panoram album

Recordings:

Reviews:

“…by Royer (conductor of this ensemble) is the wonderful Travels with Mozart: Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute. The quiet introduction is dissonant, but soon the lovely ‘Bei Männern, Welche Liebe Fühlen’ is heard. And then Royer takes the melody to cities Mozart visited—London, Munich, Mannheim, Rome, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Naples—and subjects it to imaginative variations. It is a marvel.” - American Record Guide, July/August 2017 Read More Read More
“The piece that stands out for me is precisely the one Royer might have known would catch the ear, namely his set of variations on a theme from The Magic Flute….Royer calls his composition Travels with Mozart, taking us—and this tune—through some of the foreign cultural influences that the composer must have experienced as a perpetual traveler. It’s a fun piece that bears repeated listening.” - barczablog.com Read More Read More
“Conductor Ronald Royer is also the composer of Travels With Mozart: Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute and Rhapsody for Oboe, Horn and Wind Ensemble; a most engaging pair of works. I can’t say enough about this excellent recording.” - MagOnline - bandworld.org Read More Read More