My previous knowledge of Western Art music was rudimentary and strictly limited to music written from the late Romantic period onwards. I really had not listened to a lot of music from the Classical Era save for some Opera. I had also heard some classical music in passing and in films like Amadeus. I was therefore very happy to see Amadeus as one of the exercises. I greatly enjoyed this film. I watched it in the cinema when it was first released and was overwhelmed by the music. Watching the lasts scenes, depicting Mozart composing/dictating ‘Requiem Confutatis Maledictis’ inter cut with a racing carriage and culminating in his death, is on of the experiences which made me want to pursue writing film music.
More recently I went to see Ingmar Bergman’s film of the Magic Flute. I am from Sweden so I have seen a great many of Bergman’s films, but never this one. It depicts the staging of the Opera with such warmth and humour. It starts with a lengthy opening shot of the audience, zooming in on different faces, recording their reaction to the music. There are also ‘behind the scenes’ shots of the opera singers and what they do backstage. This peculiar and cheeky depiction of the Opera production gives it an impish quality which is very much in keeping with ‘The Magic Flute’ itself. I also found it both funny and odd hearing Mozart in Swedish. I wonder if my experience of the film would have been different if I’d had to read the subtitles?
Another exercise I found very inspiring and instructive was the one about the Mannheim School. I had not realised how many orchestral techniques had originated and was propagated by this one place. So many crescendo types, the ‘Grand Pause’ and numerous other dynamic devices now used and taken for granted in both classical and popular music where invented there.
Trying to follow the score of Mozart’s ‘Flute concerto in G’ was a real eye opener. I am new to sight-reading and therefore a slow reader, but I did find the musical experience enriched by following the score. I combined this with the annotation exercise in the music theory project to try and get a deeper understanding of the composition. This part of the course was very rewarding and also the source of some frustration. The most productive thing for me to do be would be to try and follow the score to all the listening examples and try to annotate and chord analyse them (to my current level of ability). This is very time consuming for me and therein lies my frustration- running out of time. It is what’s made ‘Part Four’ the most difficult module so far.