Mozart's spirit from Seyfried's hands

3 November 2015

Seyfried, Fantasy in C minor, first movement
Seyfried, Fantasy in C minor, first movement (= K. 475, bars 26-9)

New research by Professor David Wyn Jones documents composer Ignaz von Seyfried’s lifelong interest in, and reception of, Mozart’s music, and explores how he helped to shape Mozart’s reputation in early nineteenth-century Vienna.

Seyfried, who was born twenty years after Mozart and died fifty years after him, was a respected presence in the musical life of his native Vienna, as a composer, music director, teacher and writer.

Twenty-one works by Seyfried are linked, in various ways, with compositions by Mozart, including his orchestrations of the Fantasy in C minor and the Fantasy in F minor, both of which he scored for forces never found in a Mozart symphony. Professor Jones’ analysis of these works illustrates how Seyfried’s arrangements were often both stylistically incongruous with Mozart and demonstrate the influence of Beethoven.

Professor Jones said: “Although both fantasias were borne out of fervent admiration for Mozart’s music, it would be equally fair to say that the results are, for the most part, quite un-Mozartian. If Mozart provided the raw material and the inspiration, then the composer who seems to lurk behind Seyfried’s undeniably skilful and resourceful arrangements is someone else, namely Beethoven.

“While Seyfried himself was never going to join the merging symphonic triumvirate of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he certainly contributed to the shaping of Mozart’s posthumous reputation as a symphonic composer.”

‘Mozart’s spirit from Seyfried’s hands’ appears in Mozart Studies 2, a newly-published Cambridge University Press collection edited by Simon P. Keefe.

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