Ensemble Zefiro: What you didn’t know about some of the famous composers!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Bright, elegant and unapologetically entertaining, dine out on an exquisite banquet of Handel, Fasch, Telemann, Haydn and Mozart with Ensemble Zefiro. Touring NZ from the 10-22 August delivering suitable grand and viruosic music, Ensemble Zefiro will transport audiences straight to the royal party for a rollicking good time!

So grab your tickets and come join the famed Italian masters, with their playful and charming renditions of some of the worlds most lauded compositions! And in the meantime, just for a bit of fun, check out these interesting facts about the composers!


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The famous composer Antonio Salieri was depicted in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus (1979) and the 1984 film version, as being bitter rivals with none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, so much so that the play (and film) had Salieri poison the younger composer. This depiction is widely regarded as being highly fictionalized and it is known that the pair more likely mutually respected each other. "On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse. Bassoons and basset horns, like a rusty squeezebox. And then suddenly, high above it, an oboe. A single note, hanging there, unwavering. Until a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God". (Salieri as depicted in Amadeus, realizing the power of Mozart’s Gran Partita.)

Johann Friedrich Fasch
After a difficult start to life with the death of his father, Fasch came to live with his mother’s brother. It is there that as a young boy, Fasch began to sing as a choirboy in Weissenfels. Hearing him sing as a boy, the famous composer and polymath Johann Kuhnau convinced him to study under him in Leipzig at the age of just 13. It was in Leipzig later that Fasch became friends with Philipp Telemann (both studying law at the same university.) As Telemann had before him, Fasch founded a collegium musicum, ensuring that it would continue after he left. The collegium had many famous leaders during its lifetime, including J.S. Bach.

Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann was born to a clerical family with no musical knowledge. Despite being forbidden to study music, by the age of 12 Telemann had composed an opera and had taught himself to play 4 different instruments. Aside from music, poetry and raising his grandson, one of his greatest loves was gardening, in particular growing geraniums. Along with Fasch, Telemann was good friends with Handel. Handel corresponded with him on several occasions, and in 1750 went to the trouble of sending him from London "a crate of flowers, which experts assure me are very choice and of admirable rarity".

Franz Joseph Haydn
At just 5 years old Joseph Haydn was asked to join the Choir School of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Sadly, that angelic voice disappeared at puberty and upon suffering bullying, Haydn cut off the ponytail of a fellow chorus member. He was promptly dismissed, and at just 16 years old became a homeless “street serenader”. It was there he was ‘discovered’ by a famous composer, eventually becoming a chief musician for the noble Esterhazy family. Virtually a slave to the family who demanded new works for when the family were entertaining guests, Haydn’s speciality became composing Tafelmusik (Table Music), including his ‘Parthia’. Parthia was designed to be performed outdoors - hence the use of wind instruments which carry well in open spaces - these were composed to be played with one instrument per part. One can just picture these works being played by musicians with powdered wigs in a gazebo outside the Esterházy castle.

George Frideric Handel
Before becoming obese later in his life, Handel was reportedly a bit of a looker: Fresh from his Italian successes, Handel was appointed as the new court Kapellmeister by Elector Georg Ludwig (the future George I of Great Britain) on 16 June 1710 – just two days after the Dowager Electress Sophia had written to her granddaughter with gossip about the handsome young musician: “The Elector has taken on a Master of the Chapel named Hendel, who plays marvellously on the harpsichord, which gives the Electoral Prince and Princess great joy. He is quite a handsome man, and gossip says that he has been the lover of Victoria [Tarquini].”


Ensemble Zefiro

Touring NZ 10 - 22 August. Find out more here.