Book Of Facts
MUSIC AND DRAMA
Many of the royal patrons of music have also been performers, and a few wrote music themselves. Among the most notable was Henry VIII of England. Who wrote two masses (now lost), and several surviving short pieces- including an arrangement of a song got three voices, Passtyme with good cumoanye. He is also reputed to have written the music for Greensleeves.
Henry V, the victor of Agincourt, composed church music under the name of ?Roy Henry?. Fredrick the Great of Prussia was a skilled flautist, who wrote numerous flute sonatas and concertos. In the 19th century, Albert, Queen Victoria?s Prince Consort, was an accomplished organist and composer of church music. At Victoria?s two jubilees, anthems of his were sung in Westminster Abbey.
RIOT AT THE BALLET
The normally sedate world of classical music and dance became the setting for a full- blown riot art the world premiere of the ballet The Rite of Spring, with music by Russian- born composer Igor Stravinsky. The ballet, organized by the Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev (1873-1929), was performed on May 29, 1913, to mark the opening of the new Theatre des Champs- Elyseees in Paris.
The protests at the so- called barbarism of the music, and also at the erotic nature of the dancing, began in the gallery and quickly spread to all parts of the house. Protests by Stravinsky?s supporters followed, and fighting broke out. One critic of the time described the score as? the most dissonant and the most discordant composition yet written?. But today the music no longer sounds so controversial and has taken its place in the orchestral repertoire.
One of music?s most outstanding prodigies was the English composer William Crotch, who at the age of the two years and three months could play the national anthem on a home-made organ. The son of a Norwich carpenter, he gave his first public organ recital in his home town shortly before he was three. The following year- 1779- he gave daily organ recitals in London.
Crotch was hailed as ?the English Mozart?, because Mozart was another of music?s early starters. Mozart was composing short piano pieces by the age of six and was only 12 when he wrote his first opera, Bastien and Bastienne, about a pair of pastoral lovers.
Mozart had astonishing musical memory, too. At the age of 14 he heard Gregorio Allegri?s Miserere- a setting of Psalm 50- performed in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and after that one hearing wrote down the full score from memory.
HOW DID MOZART DIE
On a rainy day in December 1791 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Europe?s most renowned composer- was given a pauper?s burial in an unmarked mass grave in St. Mark?s cemetery, Vienna. Only a few of his close friends attended the ceremony and today no one knows exactly where his bones lie. Three months earlier Mozart?s last opera, The Magic Flute, had been a huge popular success following its Vinnese premiere- but he did not long enough to enjoy the financial rewards
Fro some time before he died, Mozart id said to have been tormented by premonitions of death. He declared that his last work ?his Requiem, which was completed after his death by his former pupil Franz Sussmayr-, had been commissioned by a mysterious man in a black cloak. He regarded this as an omen that he was soon about to die. Scholars subsequently discovered that the mysterious cloaked figure was, in fact, a messenger from an Austrian nobleman who wanted to commission the Requiem secretly in the hope that the work would be taken for his own. There is also an air of mystery over the cause of Mozart?s death. Some say that he dies of a high fever; others ascribe his premature death- he was only 35- to a combination of kidney disease and overwork.
However, in 1825 the Italian composer Antonio Salleri- who was a rival of Mozart?s in Vienna- stated on his deathbed that he had poisoned Mozart. A mediocre musician, he was jealous of Mozart?s genius, but there is no proof that he murdered him. It is thought that his confession was a desperate bid to gain some kind of lasting fame- which he knew that his own compositions would not provide.