Mozart had a dad

Mozart had a dad.

Of course he did, we all do. It is one of the few certainties in this life, that we each have a father. The experience we have of him varies just a tad: from a loving, patient kind man who is always there, via various stages of impatience, occasional anger, neglect, indifference and abuse, through to the man who conceives and leaves, a presence known only by his absence.

But always, regardless, there is a father out there who is yours.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, maybe the finest composer of music ever, had one too.

2204 coverLeopold Mozart (1719-1787) was a successful and respected musician in his day. Music historiography has not been kind to Leopold. One critic writes he “failed to make his mark as a composer”. I am not completely sure what that means, but I suspect it amounts to “not a patch on his son”. 

It is hard to know how Leopold would feel about being so utterly eclipsed in memory by the short but transcendent career of his son. Wolfgang and his sister Maria Anna were the only two of seven Mozart children to survive infancy. Leopold recognised musical talent in both, and devoted his later years to teaching them the skills of playing and composing.

As a father and a teacher, I love nothing more than seeing talent bloom. My children are already better at music than I am, though that is not saying much. They are also better at sport than I ever was, which is saying even less. I hold the edge in terrible jokes. But to see them grow and thrive is my greatest joy.

I think Mozart senior would have felt the same way. Maybe concealed under the stern patriarchal manners of the time, but even so.

As for Leopold’s music? Well, it ain’t Mozart (I warned you about the jokes). But it is good, enjoyable. This piece comes from what you might call a baroque concept album. In it, the work of some lesser-known composers is grouped together, around the theme of hunting. This piece is the first movement of Leopold Mozart’s “Sinfonia da Caccia” (Symphony of the Hunters), and is written for four horns a string section, and a “fowling piece”. That is what we would call a shotgun.

In this version, there is a percussive effect imitating shots which for mine is a bit tinny: more like a whip-crack than a Winchester. It lets down an otherwise exuberant and delightful piece of music, which really does bring to mind mounted huntsmen on the move. Perhaps it was a bit difficult to fire off real shotguns, in time to the music and inside a recording studio.

  • Artist: Orchestre De Chambre Jean-François Paillard
  • Composer: Leopold Mozart
  • LP Title: Royal Hunts At The Château Of Chantilly 
  • Side 2, Track 2: “Sinfonia Di Caccia: Allegro”
  • Format: 12” 33⅓ rpm
  • Label: World Record Club S/6191
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1968

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