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Thread: Was Bizet Mozart's Musical Heir?

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    Default Was Bizet Mozart's Musical Heir?

    In the booklet accompanying my CD set of Carmen conducted by Sir Georg Solti there is an essay on the opera written by an English musicologist by the name of Winton Dean.

    Winton Dean writes, “The musical language of the opera was of course not revolutionary . . . It was an enlargement of tradition . . . The composer who stands behind Carmen whom Bizet revered above all others, and who was his principal model for the evolution of drama in musical terms, is Mozart.”

    Winton Dean then lists several aspects of Carmen that he believes Bizet composed by following models provided by Mozart.

    1) The first aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is a “combination of passionate involvement with dramatic detachment . . . “

    2) The second aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is an “interpretation of the characters from within, so that each speaks with his own voice and in tone foreign to any of the others . . .”

    3) The third aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart “are the many touches of dramatic irony . . . “

    4) The fourth aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is the “epigrammatic wit . . .”

    5) The fifth aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is the “balance of musical form, psychological development and stage action . . . “

    6) The sixth aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is the “capacity of the characters to retain their individuality in the ensembles . . .”

    7) The seventh aspect evident in Carmen that derives from Mozart is the “cleanness and economy of the instrumental textures.”

    In an effort to appreciate better the artistry of both Mozart and Bizet, I wish to consider Mr. Dean’s opinions more deeply. Do you agree with the premise of Mr. Dean? Do you think Mozart’s musical successor was Bizet? Do any examples of any of the above seven aspects (or others) occur to you as you think back on Carmen or Mozart’s operas?

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    Senior Member Jobis's Avatar
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    I think its as likely as Stravinsky's own claim was... not very. It seems futile to me even to compare two composers from the same movement let alone two completely different periods of musical history.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    I'm thinking that if Mr. Dean had pushed a pen as far on a personal check, the check would have bounced, come back to him in the mails marked "insufficient funds,' and it would have cost him a few quid in penalties as well.

    Being in line to write the comments for that CD release may have been Mr. Dean's greatest and longest moment in the sun :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Dec-26-2013 at 01:14.

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    PetrB, your comment could not possibly be improved upon.

    As for the list, I'm not even sure what most of those characterizations mean concretely.

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    Mozart had no musical successor as an opera composer. Nobody wrote so gorgeously and with such fluency for the human voice; the female voice in particular. His interactions of many of his arias with solo wind instruments, particularly the clarinet, were unique. There are no successors.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    Mozart had no musical successor as an opera composer. Nobody wrote so gorgeously and with such fluency for the human voice; the female voice in particular. His interactions of many of his arias with solo wind instruments, particularly the clarinet, were unique. There are no successors.





    In your face, Bizet!
    Last edited by Couac Addict; Dec-26-2013 at 15:33.

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