Category: Mozart

  • Little Wild Rose in the Heather

    (The manuscript of “Heidenröslein.” Schubert’s marking is “lieblich,” i.e. charming or lovely.) Read through the score here: IMSLP09270-SchubertD257_Heidenroslein The song starts almost without starting: the voice and piano begin together, without any introduction. Although the song is a setting of a poem by the great German poet, playwright, novelist, and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, […]

  • Birmingham Sunday

    On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the KKK bombed of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Four young girls on their way to Bible study were killed. The (white) folksinger Richard Fariña wrote a song to commemorate the tragedy, “Birmingham Sunday”: The tune of Fariña’s song is taken from the Scottish folksong “I Loved A […]

  • “Ethiopian” Songs: Love and Theft

    [Trigger/content warnings: lots of racist and ableist imagery and language.] In 1768, English playwright Isaac Bickerstaffe and Charles Dibdin — librettist and composer, respectively — presented their comic opera The Padlock at London’s Drury Lane Theatre. Dibdin portrayed the role of Mungo, a black slave from the West Indies, and his aria “Dear Heart! What a […]

  • Blackvoice

    TW/CW: Racist imagery, blackface minstrelsy. You know what blackface is. Is there such a thing as blackVOICE? What is it? Historically, we might call “blackvoice” one of the performative tools of blackface minstrelsy. In the days when minstrelsy was considered an acceptable form of entertainment, blackface and blackvoice existed simultaneously in the same performance/performer. What […]

  • Don Giovanni Goes to Prison

    Two years ago, Pier Paolo Polzonetti, an Italian-born music professor at Notre Dame University, wrote an essay about teaching Don Giovanni to a music history class that he taught inside a maximum-security prison. His essay, “Don Giovanni Goes to Prison: Teaching Opera Behind Bars,” was published on the blog Musicology Now, run by the American Musicology […]

  • Don Giovanni in the Hood

    All the trigger warnings. “Here’s how Peter Sellars describes his [updating of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni]: ‘There’s a rape and a murder in the first 90 seconds of Don Giovanni … It’s probably the greatest opera ever written. … Don Giovanni is an opera that, 200 years later, we’re still struggling to try to understand.’” (From a […]