This month presents an opportunity to delve into the music and history of one of the world’s most famous composers — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Concord’s Mostly Mozart Festival is Jan. 27 through Jan. 29 and comprises two showings of the New Hampshire Theatre Factory’s Amadeus and one concert courtesy of Elliott Markow and the Symphony New Hampshire Chamber Players.
NHTF Artistic Director Joel Mercier said via phone he’s happy to participate in this collaborative effort. It’s like Mozart 101, making the composer more accessible for people without music backgrounds. The concert allows you to compare his music to the other composers’ of his time, while Amadeus lets you hear Mozart’s story.
“Obviously Amadeus is somewhat fictionalized, but there’s also a lot of truth in it as well,” Mercier said. “Mozart died very young and unexpectedly from sickness. He was thrown into a pauper’s grave because he had no money. Historically, he is one of the most famous composers in history. … Knowing those elements absolutely makes a difference when you’re listening.”
Amadeus, written by Peter Shaffer in 1979, gives a highly fictionalized account of the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. It was on London’s West End and Broadway and also famous for its 1984 Hollywood adaptation, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
NHTF produced Amadeus first last spring, but the company’s bringing the play back to coincide with the festival (which is happening in part to celebrate Mozart’s 251st birthday on Jan. 27), with showtimes Friday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m., in the Concord City Auditorium. Mercier traditionally chooses musical theater projects based on his theater background, but he felt he could make an exception for Amadeus.
“This show is about a musician and a composer, and I am a musician and a composer. I felt I could relate to this and wanted to direct it,” Mercier said.
After the play, Markow and the Symphony New Hampshire Chamber Players present a concert, a “Mostly Mozart Matinee,” Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m., at the Audi on the Amadeus set in full Amadeus costume.
It features Markow on first violin; Rose Drucker on second violin; Joy Grimes on viola; and Harel Gietheim on the cello. On the menu is music by Mozart and composers from his era, including Salieri, Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Joseph Haydn.
Mozart’s music will be presented in the middle of the 80-minute concert for easy comparison.
“[Salieri] was one of the most respected composers and teachers of his time. Two of his most famous students were Beethoven and Schubert,” Markow said. “I chose the repertoire specifically to exemplify the greatness of Mozart relative to his contemporaries. There were many, many really good composers around Mozart’s time, but very few of them were great composers. … It’s like a great book or movie. Every time you go back to it, there’s more to realize, more to uncover, more to appreciate and enjoy.”