Mozart at the Movies

LCS is particularly pleased that our good friend and Assistant Director of Music, Nico de Villiers, comes hotfoot from his recent tour of South Africa, during which he played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21, to perform the same work for us at our concert on Saturday the 12th of November.

Those of us who are somewhat past the first flush of youth and have a liking for foreign cinema, may well recall back in 1967 the release of a Swedish film based on the somewhat unlikely, but true story of the ultimately tragic love affair between a Danish tightrope walker and a married Swedish nobleman and cavalry officer in the late 19th century. The film was named after its main female protagonist: Elvira Madigan.

Although the film’s classic romantic beauty and its theme of love and individual freedom would have struck a particular chord in the “flower power” days of the late 1960s, it was the music used to accompany the story which more than anything ensured the film’s enduring popularity – and in particular the slow movement of the concerto which Nico will play at our concert.

The soundtrack of the film used a performance by the Swiss-Hungarian pianist Géza Anda, directing the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra from the keyboard, thereby recalling the performing practice of the concerto’s composer. It had been a last-minute decision by the film’s director, Bo Widerberg, to use this music as he was not happy with the original music specially penned for the movie.

The Mozart however was to strike a chord not only with the director and the film’s audience but with a worldwide listening public. For many of them, Mozart and even classical music in general may have been unknown but there was something about the soothing, dream-like lyricism of the music which drew them in. It not only ensured that the concerto would henceforth bear the nickname ‘Elvira Madigan’, but that its melody would remain familiar to many of us almost 50 years later.

For the choral part of the 12 November concert, LCS will perform two works by Franz Schubert, his Offertorium: Intende voci, D.963, and his Mass No 6 in E flat major, D.950, both written, like the Mozart, within the gates of the wonderfully musical city of Vienna.

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