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Performing Mozart in the Long Nineteenth Century: Carl Reinecke and the Leipzig Mozart Style

29 August 2018

In 1904 Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) was acknowledged as “the greatest and most conscientious performer of Mozart” then living. A few years later in 1911, he was judged as being “unrivalled as a Mozart player” at one time, and belonging “to a school now almost extinct”, his playing characterised by “grace and neatness.” Throughout his illustrious career, Reinecke performed Mozart’s piano concerti both with orchestra and in his own famed solo piano arrangements. 

A few of these were published by Breitkopf and Härtel, including florid ornaments added “in the most discriminatory way possible,” for the use of students of the Leipzig Conservatory where Reinecke served as professor of composition and piano (1860-1902), and director of musical studies (1897-1902). It is illuminating to compare Reinecke’s arrangement of Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23 K. 488 with his own rendition of the work preserved on a Hupfeld Phonola piano roll (c. 1905). Reinecke’s frequent and extraordinary departures (eye-opening in many ways) from his published arrangement stimulate thought about the meaning, value and intention of musical notation in the nineteenth century. Based on present-day notions of stylish Mozart playing one might not immediately associate his interpretation with terms such as “grace and neatness”, nor with conscientiousness. But arguably, Reinecke’s Mozart preserves characteristics of an almost extinct school rooted in late-eighteenth-century ideals perhaps even emanating from Mozart and his circle. 

In this lecture-recital I will explore Reinecke’s Mozart performance and the implications for Mozart performing practice in the long nineteenth century. I will also demonstrate the use of practice-led research techniques in the arena of HIP.

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