Mozart’s Fantasia in d minor, K. 397

mozart-fantasia

I have always really enjoyed playing Mozart’s Fantasia in d minor and when I was asked to play for the new piano dedication service at my church a couple years ago I knew what I would “dust off” to perform.

The Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians defines the genre of musical fantasia as “a piece of instrumental music owning no restriction of formal construction, but the direct product of the composer’s impulse.”

The Fantasia in d minor has somewhat unusual rhythm, constantly changing tempo (seven different tempi occur throughout the piece), three cadenzas and its apparent lack of any recognizable musical form (as indicated by the “Fantasy” title). Although it begins in d minor, the final section is in D Major.

Mozart composed this, his third and final, Fantasia in 1782 and it was unfinished at the time of his death in 1791.  Even Mozart’s sister, “Nannerl”, who came across the work in 1807, was astounded to have discovered a previously unknown composition of such quality.

In its original form this Fantasia was probability only a fragment of what was to be a larger work. The closing bars which are most frequently performed today originated from an unauthorized print believed to have been composed in 1806 by August Eberhard Müller, one of Mozart’s admirers.

Because it was unfinished, many of the dynamic and pedal markings are nonexistant and left for the performer to choose.

As you can see from these videos, there is a wide range of tempi and interpretation from Frederich Gulda’s 4 minute, 36 second rendition 

to Glenn Gould’s version which lasts for 8 minutes, 22 seconds

Both these composers have added their own ornamentation to Mozart’s original work.

I will be playing from a G. Henley Verlag urtext edition instead of one of the many edited versions available.  I prefer to make my own musical decisions wherever possible.

The version above is originally from http://imslp.org/wiki/Fantasia_in_D_minor,_K.397/385g_(Mozart,_Wolfgang_Amadeus)  I had printed it out as another source to compare with mine, since this one has different dynamic and other interpretive markings.  This version also has 3 notes which differ from the urtext edition.

I also used 3 other sources before I finally decided how I would shape my performance and choose my fingerings.

Some sites that I consulted as part of the learning process: 

I’ve played this for just about everyone I know and on 4 different pianos and it was ready on time!

 

 

July 27 ~ Today in Music History

today

 

OCMS1867 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish composer and conductor
More information about Granados

• 1877 ~ Ernö Dohnányi, Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor. He wrote the popular “Variations on a Nursery Song” and became an eminent concert pianist. One of the leading lights of 20th-century Hungarian music, he championed the music of Bartok and Kodaly.

• 1918 ~ Leonard Rose, American cellist

• 1927 ~ Bob Morse, Singer with The Hi-Lo’s

• 1933 ~ Nick Reynolds, Folk singer with The Kingston Trio

• 1942 ~ Peggy Lee recorded her first hit record, in New York City. With the backing of the Benny Goodman band, Miss Lee sang Why Don’t You Do Right.

• 1943 ~ Al Ramsey, Musician: guitar with Gary Lewis & The Playboys

• 1944 ~ Bobbie Gentry, Pop Singer. She won a Grammy Award in 1967

• 1949 ~ Maureen McGovern, Singer

• 1950 ~ Michael Vaughn, Guitarist with Paperlace

• 1959 ~ Brothers, Santo and Johnny (Farina) of Brooklyn, NY saw their one and only hit record, the instrumental Sleepwalk released. Sleepwalk was number one for two weeks. Their next song, Tear Drop, only made it to number 23 on the pop charts. Such is life in the pop music biz.

• 1963 ~ Karl Mueller, Rock Musician

• 1974 ~ NBC~TV removed Dinah’s Place from its daytime programming roster. The move brought Dinah Shore’s 23~year association with the Peacock Network to a close.

• 1974 ~ John Denver’s biggest hit song reached the top of the Billboard singles chart. Annie’s Song, written for his wife, became the most popular song in the U.S. Denver had three other #1 songs: Sunshine on My Shoulders, Thank God I’m a Country Boy and I’m Sorry.

• 1976 ~ John Lennon finally had his request for permanent residency in the United States approved. Lennon’s immigration card number was A-17-597-321. The decision to allow Lennon to stay in the country ended a long struggle between the former Beatle and the U.S. Government.

• 2000 ~ Alex “Sleepy” Stein, the founder of the first all-jazz radio station, died of cancer at the age of 81. Stein started working for CBS radio in the 1940s and later moved to Chicago, where he earned the nickname “Sleepy” after replacing an all-night deejay named Wide-Awake Widoe. He moved to Southern California, where he started broadcasting from an AM station in Long Beach. In 1957, Stein bought KNOB and began all-jazz programming from the Signal Hill station. On-air personalities at the groundbreaking station included famous jazz announcers Chuck Niles, Jim Gosa and Alan Schultz. Stan Kenton helped him finance the station by contributing the profits from his band’s performances.

• 2001 ~ Harold Land, a jazz saxophonist who over five decades performed with such greats as Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett, died at 72. Land was born on Dec. 18, 1928, in Houston and grew up in San Diego. His parents bought him a saxophone when he was 16 and he made his first record at 21. In 1954 he moved to Los Angeles, where he joined the group run by trumpeter Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach, touring the country for two years. He went on to join bands featuring jazz notables Curtis Counce and Blue Mitchell. He co-led a band with vibraphone player Bobby Hutcherson in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and had a 30-year association with Gerald Wilson’s orchestras. Land earned a reputation as a hard-bop musician capable of incandescent improvisation. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, Land joined the Timeless All-Stars, which included Hutcherson, drummer Billy Higgins, pianist Cedar Walton and trombonist Curtis Fuller. He also was a featured soloist for Tony Bennett. He appeared on the soundtracks for the movies Carmen Jones in 1954 and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in 1969. He continued to be an active musician late in life. The album Promised Land, featuring Land and his quartet, was released this year.