Culver City Observer -

Big Names Headline CC Symphony Opening Concert

Listen to the Greats: Bach. Mozart and Mendelssohn


October 18, 2018

The program will include the following; Johann Sebastian Bach, Keyboard Concerto, d minor, BWV 1052; Wolfgang Mozart, Piano Concerto, C Major; and Felix Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 3,“Scottish”(1841-42).

On April 8, 1789, Mozart, accompanied by his friend, Prince Karl Lichnowsky, set off for a two month trip from Vienna to northern Germany, including the cultural capitals of Berlin and Dresden. The trip was for Mozart to present himself, and his music, in concerts, in search of patrons, future concerts, and to improve his financial situation, which was seeing stretches of distress.

Mozart was very accustomed to travel. As one of the most remarkable music prodigies, his father Leopold took him and his very talented sister Marianne on tours of the capitals of Europe to present the Wunderkinds to the world. Leopold also saw this as a money making enterprise.

Wolfgang Mozart visited every major capital, court, and church and their musicians, and was exposed to the music of Europe. He met one of J.S. Bach’s sons, Johann Christoph Bach, the “London Bach,” and yet, it seems Mozart was more or less unaware of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach until he moved to Vienna in 1780 and became friends with one the city’s greatest music patrons, Baron von Swieten. Swieten gave to Mozart a copy of J.S. Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier,” the monumental work for keyboard of preludes and fugues in every major and minor key.

The limited copies of TWC were treasured by music teachers, who would hand down a copy to their best student, or music connoisseurs who would likewise pass down a copy to a favored musician. This is what Swieten did with Mozart. Once Mozart began studying “The Well Tempered Clavier,” his life was forever changed. There are reports that visitors would always find a copy of TWC at Mozart’s apartments (he moved often), open, and ready for studying and playing.

Johann Sebastian Bach spent the last twenty-seven years of his life in Leipzig as the Kantor of the St. Thomas and St. Nicholas Lutheran Churches, composing and performing works for both churches, and he was in charge of the music education of the Leipzig schools.

Then, as in Mozart’s day, Leipzig was a smallish town, and was not know as a music capital. For Mozart there was no known employment opportunity. No formal concerts were planned. Indeed, this was an unscheduled side-trip. Why? No financial gain was to be hoped for. Was it because Mozart was so awestruck with the music of Bach that he needed to search for the source of this exalted musical inspiration?

When Mozart arrived in Leipzig, he went to the St. Thomas Church, Thomaskirche, he improvised on the church’s organ in the presence of Bach successor, Kantor Friedrich Doles. Doles was delighted with Mozart’s improvising on the organ, and is reported to have said, “,,,,,the old Sebastian Bach (Dole’s teacher) had risen again.”

At the Thomaskirche Mozart sought out written music of Bach, and the works he found at the church he spread out around him on tables and chairs to study.

Mozart was a regular, many times a daily letter writer, particularly to his wife Constanza back in Vienna. It is through these letters that Mozart’s activities and history can be traced. However, there are gaps of information, days of silences, from Mozart’s time in Leipzig.

There is speculation of a relationship with a woman singer to account for the silence. This writer thinks it is more innocent, and much more profound. Mozart was so moved and amazed by the music of Bach which he encountered back in Vienna that he began searching for more in Leipzig, like Mendelssohn, who later, upon finding lost manuscripts of Bach, then began his own sleuthing which discovered the treasure of Bach music and began the Bach Revival.

Mendelssohn was living in Leipzig, with a job conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and could afford his searching. Mozart was traveling through town, in search of jobs in other towns and cities, and thus could not afford to stay and sleuth on his own. But this mysterious silence from Mozart of his time in Leipzig could be considered a pilgrimage to the source of the wonders of Bach’s music, and Mozart was so consumed, so amazed, so in awe of the music which he did find, that silence was demanded.

This will mark Frank Fetta's return to conducting the orchestra for our next concerts.

Mozart and Mendelssohn both discovered the music of Johann Sebastian Bach well into their musical careers. The influences of Bach's music on both composers was profound, and changed the style and structure of their composition from that point on.

The concert will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 1220 2nd Street in Santa Monica. Parking is available across from the church in City Structure No. 2. The entrance can only be reached from northbound on 2nd Street.

$20: General Admission is $20 with students, ages 13-17 for $15. Ages 6-12 are free with and adult ticket purchase.

$15: Students with ID / Ages 13-17

Tickets can be purchased through their website at;


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