Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica when Mozart was a small child. The instrument was immensely popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and many composers included it in their works. The Adagio by Mozart, which I discuss in this blog, is one of the many pieces written for it. Franklin’s glass harmonica has a range of 37 notes (some three octaves) in the upper range of the piano, and articulation is rather difficult when the sounds are produced by pressing wet fingers against rotating glass bowls. So what can Mozart make out of all these limitations? As it turns out, quite a bit. And rendering the work on the piano raises several intriguing questions.
How significant is the tonality of a work of music to our perception of it as performers or listeners? Could a work in D minor have been written in B-flat minor, or is there a sort of nomenclature to keys? The treatises on key characteristics attest to the latter rather than the former, and when […]
“I don’t want to be overheard, and there are lots of people here who know me, but it is dull,” says Rameau’s nephew of his uncle’s music in Diderot’s eponymous book. He continues: “It’s not that I care twopence about dear uncle, if ‘dear’ he be. He is made of stone. He would see my […]