Sachertorte for a Watch Party

For our year of musical tourism as part of our reimagined 90th season, we have been so thrilled to see people enjoy fondue for a trip to Paris, bison meatballs for Paris of the Prairies, and pretzels for our Oktoberfest event. Now that we’re off for a Visit to Vienna, there’s a few tasty treats you can try….but one of them is a must!

When in Vienna, you become intimately familiar with Wiener Schnitzel (it even has Vienna in its name!), apple strudel, spargel, tafelspitz, and of course enjoying their addition to Melange.

No trip to Vienna would be complete without enjoying a piece (or two…or three….) of Sachertorte.

Popular all across Austria, this rich chocolate cake is as important to a trip to Vienna as seeing the works of Klimt and hearing the Vienna Phil!

SACHERTORTEN Ingredients
130 g – dark couverture chocolate (min. 55% cocoa content)
1 – Vanilla Pod
150 g -softened butter
100g – Icing sugar
6 – Eggs (its definitely an indulgent cake!)
100 g – Castor sugar
140 g – Plain wheat flour

FAT AND FLOUR FOR SPRINGFORM
200 g – apricot jam
200 g – castor sugar
150 g – dark couverture chocolate (min. 55% cocoa content)

Unsweetend whipped cream to garnish

Ok – here we go!

  • Preheat oven to 170°C. Line the base of a springform with baking paper, grease the sides, and dust with a little flour.
    Melt couverture over boiling water. Let cool slightly.
  • Slit vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Using a hand mixer with whisks, beat the softened butter with the icing sugar and vanilla seeds until bubbles appear.
  • Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks into the butter mixture one by one. Now gradually add melted couverture chocolate. Beat the egg whites with the castor sugar until stiff, then place on top of the butter and chocolate mixture. Sift the flour over the mixture, then fold in the flour and beaten egg whites.
  • Transfer the mixture to the springform, smooth the top, and bake in the oven (middle rack) for 10–15 minutes, leaving the oven door a finger’s width ajar. Then close the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes. (The cake is done when it yields slightly to the touch.)
  • Remove the cake from the oven and loosen the sides of the springform. Carefully tip the cake onto a cake rack lined with baking paper and let cool for approximately 20 minutes. Then pull off the baking paper, turn the cake over, and leave on rack to cool completely.
  • Cut the cake in half horizontally. Warm the jam and stir until smooth. Brush the top of both cake halves with the jam and place one on top of the other. Brush the sides with the jam as well.
  • To make the glaze, put the castor sugar into a saucepan with 125 ml water and boil over high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Take the sugar syrup off the stove and leave to cool a little. Coarsely chop the couverture, gradually adding it to the syrup, and stir until it forms a thick liquid (see tip below).

 

HOW TO TEST WHETHER THE GLAZE HAS THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY
Let a little of the glaze run over a wooden cooking spoon. It should now be covered by a layer of glaze approximately 4 mm thick. If the glaze is too thick, add a few drops of sugar syrup to dilute it (to do so, loosen any remaining sugar in the saucepan with a little hot water). Make sure the glaze does not get too hot, or it will be dull when cooked and not glossy.

 

We know that this is a big baking challenge, but Sachertorte is worth every single ounce of love put in to it! Let us know how you made out with your torte by tagging us in your photos on social media @ssoyxe #SSOVienna

Happy baking!

The City of Dreams

Vienna: a sprawling city of expression, flavor, and beauty. Known the world over as the wellspring of Western Classical Music, Vienna is also recognized by many as the City of Dreams. But how did it come by this alluring title, and why does it still ring so true so many years later?  

It is possible that Vienna is called the City of Dreams as a sort of veiled reference to one of its most internationally renowned citizens, one whose ideas about the human mind shifted modern culture irrevocably. Sigmund Freud was a psychoanalyst who lived and practicing for nearly 47 years in Vienna, and the central tenet of one of his most well-known texts ”Die Traumdeutung” (”The Interpretation of Dreams”), is centered on the theory that dreams symbolically fulfill wishes. Perhaps over its many years of existence, the dreams of its citizens were manifested in the evolution of Vienna.

Sigmund Freud’s address of Berggasse 19 is still around today, albeit in the form of the Sigmund Freud Museum. Proclaimed an honorary citizen of Vienna in 1924, the “father of psychoanalysis” had this to say about the prospect of fleeing his place of practice to avoid the encroaching present of the Nazis: ”This is my post, and I can never leave it.” It should be noted that Vienna was a city that Freud had, for many years, professed to greatly dislike. Perhaps there was an unconscious motive at play, or perhaps he just appreciated the art and architecture of the great city.

Vienna still maintains its international reputation as a haven for arts and culture of all shapes and sizes. Boasting more than 100 museums, many of them art galleries, the city is alive with pieces commemorating the classical and the avant garde of numerous periods. From its Museum of Art History to the palatial Galerie Belvedere, the Middle Ages and Baroque periods continue to captivate younger generations who throng their hallways hungry for the magic of the past. If books or trains are your thing, there is the Austrian Library and Technical Museum, respectively, and one can’t go wrong with a quick trip to the Imperial Furniture Collection. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of normal furniture to sit on if you’re in need of some recuperation. Vienna is a city you can spend a lifetime exploring, and each visit brings with it a host of special memories.

    If it isn’t rooted in the Subconscious Mind or in the Eye of the Beholder, maybe Vienna’s namesake originates from its unofficial anthem. Composed by Rudolf Sieczyński, an Austrian composer of Polish ancestry, “Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume” (Vienna, City of My Dreams) is a song that encapsulates the timeless nature of the city. With melody and lyrics written in 1914, this nostalgic piece of music is one that a night of revelry and merry-making is simply incomplete without. The yearning of a traveler, seeking far and wide that old familiar place that they feel at home, is something each of us can relate to. And so, the lyrics ring out over the starry nights so bright and full of love: for the beautiful things in Vienna, for you and for all of us. Together where we can dream in peace.

Brahms’ Haydn Variations

As a child, you may have been told that (through fairy tale magic) Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold. A neat parlor trick, perhaps, but how does it stack up against a Red Hedgehog spinning a mystery into eight pastoral vistas? Johannes Brahms was given the moniker “Red Hedgehog” after the Vienna coffeehouse of the same name. The famed Romantic composer was so fond of the place that he stubbornly refused to eat or drink anywhere else for most of his adult life. Brahms himself was not unlike a hedgehog anthropomorphized: whiskered and portly, described as having a “…notoriously curmudgeonly [exterior], but [one that] hid a profoundly sensitive and noble nature for which he found fullest expression in his music.” Nowhere is this nobility of musical spirit more evident than in his “Variations on a Theme by Haydn”.

A clear testament to the musical genius of its composer, the “Variations on a Theme by Haydn” was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1873. Penned during his stay at the gorgeous town of Tutzing in Bavaria, Brahms originally set the piece for two pianos. Soon after, he made the decision to adapt his variations for orchestra, and it is this version which enjoys a more enduring popularity today. But how did the Red Hedgehog stumble across this theme by Haydn? And what was it about this theme that moved Brahms to compose eight unique variations? 

Three years before he would compose the Variations, Brahms met with his friend Carl Ferdinand Pohl for coffee. At that time, Pohl was a musicologist and biographer of Haydn, serving as the librarian of the Vienna Philharmonic Society. He had called Brahms over to share with the composer what he believed to be an important discovery: a work that bore the name of the great eighteenth century composer Joseph Haydn that was utterly unknown to him. 

Pohl had made a transcription of the original piece (titled Divertimento No. 1) for Brahms to examine, who was particularly drawn to the second movement. This section bore the heading “St. Anthony Chorale” and immediately caught Brahms’ eye because of its odd melody (which began with two irregular, five-bar phrases). Brahms furiously scribbled down the melody of the “St. Anthony Chorale”, thanked Pohl profusely, and bustled out into the busy Vienna streets. Unlike most people, who needed a walk to clear their heads, Brahms required long sojourns in the countryside to access the most passionate (and personal) fragments of music that swirled within his mind. 

But Pohl had unintentionally slipped The Red Hedgehog a red herring, as Divertimento No. 1 was not actually composed by Haydn at all. Subsequent research has concluded that Divertimento No. 1 could not have been composed by the Father of the String Quartet, because it does not utilize the most oft-encountered hallmarks of Haydn’s musical style. Some academic sources posit that the Divertimento was written by Ignaz Pleyel, a student of Haydn’s, but this has not been definitively established. In the early nineteenth century, it was quite common for music publishers to attribute certain works by lesser or flat-out unknown composers to famous ones to increase the likelihood of a sale. This might explain why the Divertimento No. 1 was labeled “Haydn” in the first place

But this musical “whodunnit” grows even more perplexing when one considers the second movement of Divertimento No. 1. The mysterious composer of this work could have created the “St. Anthony Chorale” themselves, but it is more plausible that they created the melody by embellishing a pre-existing chorale. Unfortunately, it is here that the trail grows cold…as no record of a “St. Anthony Chorale” (or its unique melody) predating Divertimento No.1 has ever been found. 

In more recent years, musical scholars have attempted to rename the variations Brahms created around the theme of Divertimento No. 1’s second movement. Many musicologists now agree that “The St. Anthony Variations” is a more appropriate title for Brahms’ masterwork. After all, it is this theme which, in its entirety, forms the melodic backbone for the eight variations that follow. And, as the name implies, each of Brahms’ thematic recreations vary in small but significant ways from their prototype, most notably in their coloration, tempos, and overall character. Several of the variations recollect the technical forms of earlier musical eras, and many of these specific variations showcase Brahms as a master of counterpoint: one whose innate gifts with creating musical textures set him apart from later composers of the Romantic period.

To begin the piece, the main theme of Brahms’ St. Anthony Chorale rings out (retaining its original key of B major and appearing very much the same as it did in Divertimento No. 1). Structurally, this introduction is divided into two segments: the first explores a musical idea before repeating itself; the second section develops contrast before returning to the idea of the first segment. A coda and a repetition of the second half of the main theme ingrain its melody deep into the mind of the listener before Brahms’ magical variations begin.

Variation I arrives in a sweeping gust of colored leaves. Featuring a favorite musical texture of Brahms (triplets against duplets), the interplay of cellos and violins recall the majesty of Autumn. While the celli carry the triplets in the first half of this variation, the second half sees them trade these triplets for the duplets played by the violins in the first half. Variation II delights in explosive contrasting dynamics, a Romanian-inspired caravan dance in the parallel minor. The feeling of content meandering the orchestration produces in the listener calls to mind the rolling hills and valleys that Brahms no doubt explored while he dreamt up this masterpiece of music.

Variation III is a longer reimagining of the main theme, one which emphasizes the clarity of the oboes and bassoons to full effect. Brahms is constantly shifting around musically in this variation, re-orchestrating the repeats of each half of the main melody. We see the sky, feel the clouds, and hear the birds take flight in Springtime. As Variation IV returns to the parallel minor, a reflective oboe slows our pace through the virtual countryside down to that of a pleasant stroll. When Variation V arrives, we see something darting out onto the country path. A rabbit? A fox? It matters not, some sort of hunt is at hand! This scherzando variation bubbles with all the joyful youth that comes with the chase.

Variation VI confirms that a stately ride through the verdant forest is just what our hearts desire. The most dramatic of the variations by far, its soft beginning places the brass section firmly in charge (as well they should be during a hunt!). The quarry is chased round and round, up and down, as the second half charges the orchestra into a full fortissimo. We are before the Boar, about to snag the Stag, and then… Variation VII gracefully lulls us into a dreamlike fantasy. The tenderness of the interplay between instruments high and low seems to exemplify the balance between humankind and the natural world around us. Variation VIII descends in a mantle of mist-filled magic. Another scherzando variation, this time in the minor, it invites the translucent faeries and other winged creatures of fantasy that inhabit the forests to partake in a celebration. 

The finale emerges in the form of a chaconne, an older form of variation in which a short bass line repeats again and again. The upper parts of Brahms’ orchestration are quite varied here, and each instrument is encouraged to insert improvisatory musical remarks over the consistency of the bass line. This riff is a distilled version of the main theme, and above it Brahms strings musical lights through the trees of the celebrating forest by establishing a heartwarming array of choral textures in the upper strata of the orchestration. And so we are taken on a short but exhilarating flight out of the forest canopy and left to float delicately among the clouds as the colors of sunset fall gently around us. A brief return of the parallel minor signals that our feet have touched down on solid ground once more, and that there is traveling yet to do. There are hints of Variation II’s Romani music that feature as the finale builds to welcome a grand return of the main theme. 

And just when the listener thinks Brahms is fresh out of genius moves, the composer plants a delightful musical easter egg in the coda of the Finale to tie the entire piece together. He unwittingly renders all the mystery surrounding the original composer of St. Anthony’s Chorale utterly moot…by quoting a musical passage that really is by Haydn. In measures 463–464, the violas and celli echo the cello line from measure 148 of the second movement of Haydn’s “Clock” Symphony. The love of the outside world is wrapped around the listener in a powerful but gentle embrace, and the victorious final chords hurtle across the night sky like shooting stars. 

Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn were first performed in their orchestral rendition on the 2nd of November, 1873, by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Their maestro that evening was the Red Hedgehog himself, the rough-and-tumble pianist whose tribute to a musical giant took classical music to even greater heights. No doubt on that fateful night, somewhere far above the rapturous applause, Papa Haydn smiled on Brahms’ efforts with fond appreciation. The SSO is honored to bring this masterwork to life at our Visit to Vienna concert!  

Composers Series – Brahms

In 2016 the SSO reached out to artist Denyse Klette to pitch the idea of having her create an portrait of Mozart to help the SSO celebrate its Mozart Festival in 2017 – what was originally a simple one-off idea for promotional piece became a multi-year project that has been remarkably rewarding for both parties.

First came Mozart in 2017, then in 2018 an exceptional portrait of Joni Mitchell for our concert “Don’t Give Yourself Away – the Music of Joni Mitchell”. Then in 2019 we unveiled Denyse’s now iconic image of Beethoven that adorns the SSO’s windows at our offices on 51st street. It was sometime in 2019 that we realized this had to be a long term project together that would be added to each year.

And now for our Visit to Vienna concert, we’re thrilled to unveil Denyse’s Brahms.

Romantic. Passionate. Indulgent.
Johannes Brahms is a towering figure of the romantic era – passionately taking the structures and forms of the music before him and tearing it into a new romantic future. A lover of nature and long walks, the composer gained himself the nickname “the hedgehog” due to his almost nightly visits to the Viennese pub “The Red Hedgehog”.

Brahms’ music is at once full of colour and full of reverent restraint. It is completely caught up in heart-on-sleeve romance while finding the struggle between old forms and new sounds. He lived a life that was the stuff of legends, and his story is forever intertwined with Clara Schumann. The tenderness in their letters shows a man who loved with his whole heart.

An exceptional pianist, gifted with a sense of melody and harmony, Brahms’ music is evergreen and never loses its lusture.

Denyse Klette is one of Saskatchewan’s most celebrated artists; her work hangs in homes, galleries, and public spaces across the globe. Denyse is Canada’s only Disney Artist, and her work is full of colour and life that captures her joyous personality.

 

 

The Composers series are available in limited edition canvas prints. They’ll soon be available for purchase on our website.
To find out more, please email us at office@ saskatoonsymphony.org

Conductor Shah Sadikov

Shah Sadikov is new to Saskatoon, and because of the pandemic He saw his travel schedule come to a halt and its a treat to have him joining us for his first time with the SSO!

An adamant believer in the power of music to unite, inspire, and elevate, Shah (Shokhrukh) Sadikov is one of the most driven young conductors of his generation. From concert halls to classrooms, community centres and libraries, Sadikov leads an engaged career as a conductor, violist, and music educator. His work with numerous organizations, hundreds of people, and advocacy of access to the arts-for-all stands as a testimony to his belief.

In 2015, Mr. Sadikov co-founded and became the CEO and Music Director of a non-for-profit arts organization, NAVO Inc. (navoarts.com), whose mission is to create unique programs that challenge, entertain, and enrich the lives of underserved communities in the Midwest. In its only few years of existence, NAVO has already reached audiences in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois. During the 2018-19 season he also led the Overland Park Orchestra as the Music Director.

During his tenure as Music Director of the Hays Symphony Orchestra (2015-2019), the orchestra has reached its first pedestal of success in every direction: innovative programming that appeals to a wide range of audience (including two festivals: Cottonwood Chamber Music in the Spring and New Music in the Fall), high quality concerts with a strong regular following, the first HSO brand, website, and the Hays Youth Orchestra. The Children’s Halloween concert became one of the most successful family events of the city. Mr. Sadikov also worked as an assistant professor of upper strings and orchestra director at Fort Hays State University.

Sadikov appeared as a conductor, soloist, and principal violist with the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Radio Chamber Orchestra of Uzbekistan. He also conducted ensembles such as the Tokyo Philharmonic, Aspen Festival Orchestra, Aspen Chamber Symphony, Berlin Sinfonietta, Kazakh State Philharmonic, Kansas City Civic Orchestra, Kansas Wesleyan Chamber Orchestra, Medomak Symphony Orchestra, Taldykorgan Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra “Turkiston” and newEar Contemporary Ensemble among others.

As violist, Mr. Sadikov performed in festivals that include Aspen, Sarasota, Halcyon, Killington, Cottonwood, Lincoln Crossroads and Vladimir Spivakov’s “Moscow Meets Friends”. He produced two recordings with he rapper Tech 9 under the Strange Music label, and released two CD’s of viola works by Brahms, Schumann, Clarke, and Ingrid Stölzel. He recently performed recitals in Germany, Uzbekistan, and the United States, and played his Carnegie Hall debut in 2014.

As a founding member of Wakarusa Trio, Mr. Sadikov is a first prize winner of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, American Protégé International Competition and MTNA Competition, as well as a Bronze medalist at the Chamber Music Foundation Competition of New England. As a soloist and conductor, he is a laureate of several international competitions such as the 2005 Young Artist Competition of the Republic (Uzbekistan), the 2006 International Competition in Almaty (Kazakhstan) as well as the Tolebaev Conducting Competition (Kazakhstan) in 2019.

Upcoming engagements include an invitation to conduct the Shenyang Symphony in China, Taldikorgan Philharmonic Orchestra and Kostanay Philharmonic Orchestras in Kazakhstan, National Symphony Orchestra and Turkiston Chamber Orchestras in Uzbekistan, as well as an opera debut at the State Academic Bolshoi Theater in Uzbekistan, conducing Donizetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor. Mr. Sadikov currently performs on superb contemporary instruments, both, viola and violin made by Douglas Marples.

Cellist Oleksander Mycyk

The pandemic brings a few bright shining moments of silver lining – and the SSO jumped on the opportunity to seize this silver lining. Cellist Oleksa Mycyk came home to Saskatoon to be with family when the pandemic started, and now he’s making his SSO solo debut!

Oleksander enjoys a multi-faceted career as a solo,  chamber, and orchestral performer and teacher. He is completing a Doctor of Musical  Arts degree at Northwestern University and is a Teaching Assistant to Professor Hans Jørgen Jensen.

He recently completed the Certificate in Performance Program at  Northwestern while a full-time member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and currently  performs as a substitute cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the  Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. Oleksander began his cello studies in Saskatoon  with Lahni Russell and performed with the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra and Saskatoon  Symphony Orchestra.

He completed a Bachelor of Music Performance degree at the  University of Toronto, and a Masters in Solo Performance at McGill University  studying with Matt Haimovitz. He has also performed in masterclasses around the  world for cellists such as Janos Starker, Lynn Harrell, Laurence Lesser and Aldo  Parisot.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Felix Galimir  Award for Excellence in Chamber Music, and the Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Award.  A multiple laureate of solo and duo competitions, Oleksander has been a National  Finalist in the Canadian Music Festival and a top prizewinner in the Canadian Music  Competition. Recent performance highlights include the world premiere of Elizabeth  Ogonek’s chamber work Water Cantos, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen during the Chicago  Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW concert series as well as being featured as soloist  with the Canadian Chamber Choir on their US tour.

International appearances have  included performances with the Grammy nominated Uccello ensemble at the  International Cello Congress in Israel. Oleksander teaches applied cello at  Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL.

See Oleksa as part of our Visit to Vienna concert performance!

Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C

Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major is believed by music historians to have been composed between 1761 and 1765. Dedicated to the composer’s good friend Joseph Franz Weigl, who served as the principal cellist of Prince Nicolaus’s Esterházy Orchestra during this time, the work was lost for nearly 200 years before a copy of its score resurfaced at the Prague National Museum in 1961.

Joseph Haydn

Musicologist Oldřich Pulkert was responsible for finding the score amidst other manuscripts he was charged with organizing at the time. One year after its re-emergence, the concerto received its 20th century premiere by Miloš Sádlo and the Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras) on 19 May 1962.

Though the original manuscript of the completed concerto is presumed to have been destroyed by time, an early draft of the beginning of the first movement’s principal theme survives in Haydn’s draft catalogue of 1765. This indicates that Haydn was starting to compose his first cello concerto around the same time as his Symphonies 6,7, and 8. It would be an additional 20 years before he would write another concerto for cello, but this first foray clearly demonstrates Haydn’s mastery of instrumental writing…particularly for the string section.

With idiomatic writing that flourishes throughout, this concerto bridges the gap between the oft-used ritornello form of the baroque concerto and the sonata-allegro form which was being developed by visionary composers like Haydn throughout his lifetime. With a small accompanying ensemble (a nod to the baroque concerto grosso), Haydn places his full trust in the cello line to summon passion and vibrancy to support the efforts of the other players.

Unlike his second cello concerto, where rondo form is used in the second and third movements, all three movements of the first concerto are written in sonata form. Its structural patterning (a first movement defined by etched rhythms leading into a series of flowing second themes, a peaceful slow movement, and a brisk finale) make for a remarkable resemblance to his Violin Concerto no. 3 in A major. In fact, both pieces were composed for orchestra during the same period of the composer’s life.

The authenticity of the concerto’s authorship has been raised by several musical authorities, but many experts believe that there is enough evidence to support this being a genuine product of Haydn’s creative genius. In the slow movement of this concerto, for example, the cello enters dramatically on a long note, played while the orchestral strings relaunch the theme heard during the opening of the piece. The cello goes on to imitate this melody two measures later, a musical gesture that was characteristic of Haydn’s compositional style.

Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major has been recorded by many famous artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pré, Truls Mørk, and Julian Lloyd Webber. The virtuosity and passion it demands from its ensemble and soloist alike is supreme, and the SSO and Oleksa Mycyk’s take on this long-lost classic is sure to bring you to your feet.

Hear this work as part of our concert A Visit to Vienna!

The renaissance of Marianna Martines

They say that brilliant minds touch the lives of all that surround them. This was especially true for Vienna-born composer Marianna Martines (sometimes referred to as Marianne von Martinez). Marianna was born in 1744 into a family of career soldiers. Her father Nicolo, who had grown up in Naples, served in Vienna as major-domo to the papal nuncio (the Pope’s embassy to the Austrian Empire). 

Marianna’s brothers both led distinguished military careers and, for their service to the Empire, their entire family was awarded a patent of nobility in 1774 (back then, you couldn’t have “von” in your  family name without this handy slip of paper). But Marianna (with her musical gifts both as a performer and composer) was the rising star of the family, and with the help of a family friend she would one day become a sensation throughout all of Europe.

During Marianna’s childhood, The Martines family lived in a large building on the Michaelerplatz in Vienna. Described by historians as “a stately building still standing in the Kohlmarkt”, the complex was arranged by the social class of its occupants: upper class members of society held soirees in palatial rooms on the bottom floors, while the lower classes lived in the cramped interiors of the building’s uppermost reaches. As an upper-middle class family, the Martines clan were privileged enough to live on the third floor. 

The neighbors of Marianna Martines included the dowager princess of the wealthy Esterházy family (1st Floor), the well-known Italian singing teacher and composer Nicola Porpora (who lived a few floors above Marianna), and Joseph Haydn (then a struggling composer and freelance musician who lived in the building’s attic). The figure who helped unite all these neighbors into a network of musical support for Marianna’s development was her father’s childhood friend Pietro Trapassi. Writing under the famous pen name “Metastasio”, Pietro lived with the Martines family for the rest of his life after being appointed Poet Laureate to the Austrian Empire in 1730. 

As the tutor responsible for Marianna’s practical and musical education in childhood, Pietro ensured that the education Marianna received was of a quality far superior to that of the “standard” provided to women of her social class at that time. Through her rigorous study of languages with Pietro, for example, Marianna became an incredibly well-versed quadrilingual of French, English, Italian, and German. Pietro arranged for Marianna to take keyboard lessons from Haydn (that brilliant young man from the attic) and encouraged her to take singing lessons at the age of ten. 

So it was that Marianna continued her musical training under Nicola Porpora, with Haydn serving as both her accompanist and assistant to her new teacher. Demonstrating potential as a gifted composer, Marianna was encouraged by her tutor Pietro to take lessons in composition from Johann Adolph Hasse and the Imperial court composer Giuseppe Bonno. She brought Haydn with her to meet both Hasse and Bonno, and the attic musician’s career flourished as a result.

Martines was a virtuosic player, even as a child, and regularly performed before the Imperial court. Her biographer Helene Wessely depicts the young Martines as having “attracted attention with her beautiful voice and [superb] keyboard playing”. Wessely also asserts that her compositions, particularly for voice, possess a “predilection for coloratura passages, leaps over wide intervals and trills indicat[ing] that she herself must have been an excellent singer.” As a rock star on the harpsichord, she developed such a reputation into adulthood that she was frequently requested to perform before the Empress Maria Theresa.

Despite being one of the most eligible bachelorettes in the Classical Viennese music scene, Marianna Martines never married. She never sought an appointed position at court either. There were barriers to women (as well as individuals of her social class) when it came to pursuing compositional employment that her friend Haydn simply did not have to contend with. Together with her sister (who also remained a lifelong bachelorette) she cared for her mentor Pietro until his death in 1782. That very year, Marianna’s Italian oratorio “Isacco figura del redentore” was premiered in a renowned concert series put on by the Tonkünstler-Societät. The librettist for this oratorio is credited to Pietro’s pen name of Metastasio.

The poet left his estate to the Martines family, and to his student Marianna he bequeathed 20,000 florins, his harpsichord, and his entire music library. Marianna used this money to fill the Martines home with her former tutor’s favorite music, hosting musical soirees with her sister that attracted distinguished guests (such as the Irish tenor Michael Kelly and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself!). The latter was a frequent guest to these musical get-togethers and composed four-hand piano sonatas to perform with Marianne. Never too proud to forget his roots, Haydn would often pop in for a bit of harpsichord-tickling and merriment-making.

As a composer, Martines penned four masses, six motets, and three litanies for choir. She composed several works for solo voice and wrote several secular cantatas (as well as two oratorios) to Italian texts. In the definitive fashion of the early Classical period, particularly in Vienna, she composed in the Italian style. Her harpsichord playing was compared stylistically to that of C.P.E. Bach, and her compositions were so well-regarded that some scholars suggest Mozart modeled his 1768 Mass after the “Christe” of her Mass No. 1 in D major. 

As she rightly deserved, Martines’ name and music were lauded throughout Europe, but after her death in 1812 her musical legacy faced an incredible amount of erasure. It is only in recent years that her music has, rightly, been unearthed to the delight of the musical world. It is primarily thanks to the efforts made by publishers such as “Furore-Verlag” (a German publisher that specializes in works by female composers) that we can enjoy so many of her compositions today. The SSO is honored to bring her Sinfonia in C major to life at our upcoming “Visit to Vienna” concert.