Works by Mozart, Haydn, and Rossini

Sunday, March 19, 2023, 7:30 p.m.

Gioachino Rossini, Overture to "Semiramide"
Joseph Haydn, Concerto for Oboe
    Francisco Castillo, soloist
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in g minor

Joel B. Lish, Director and Conductor

Admission is free; open seating.


Attendees are requested to wear a protective mask when indoors while attending the concert.

Palisades Lutheran Church
15905 Sunset Blvd. (corner of El Medio)
Pacific Palisades,  California


About the program

Hmm ... is the "Haydn Oboe Concerto" by Haydn? It would seem that most contemporary scholars are reluctant to say so, and some have even suggested which contemporary of Haydn's could be the real author. One basis for their suspicion is that Haydn was famous in his time, and many works were circulated fraudulently under his name. You might enjoy taking a look at this copy of a contemporary title page -- was it truth, ignorance, or greed that led someone to add in Haydn's name in darker ink? But the unprejudiced ear will enjoy this beautiful and charming piece just as much no matter who composed it. We are looking forward to Francisco Castillo's performance as oboe soloist.

There is hardly a symphony more celebrated than Mozart's 40th in G minor, and we are glad to have the chance to perform it for you. Almost nothing is known about the first performances, but it's easy to imagine that it was a shock to 18th century listeners to hear the framework of the Classical symphony (which Haydn and Mozart had made a vehicle for so many joyous works) used for the expression of (in Charles Rosen's words) "violence, passion, and grief".

Like Mozart's Requiem (which we perform on May 7th) the symphony is tied into controversies about Mozart's personal life -- did he write it as an expression of his own despair? Among Mozart scholars, this view seems to be receding, and some now suggest that Mozart actually lived a very rewarding life, albeit with financial worries and a tragically early, sudden end.

The 40th is part of a sequence of three symphonies that Mozart composed one after another in the summer of 1788. The companion  39th and 41st symphonies are, in contrast, joyous and exuberant. Mozart may have intended the symphonies as a set, and 18th-century sets (e.g. of quartets) usually included at least one work in a minor key for balance. Perhaps Mozart took the writing of a tragic symphony as a challenge to his professional ability -- a challenge that he rose to in an astonishing way.

We begin the concert with a work far less fraught -- but very catchy, the overture Rossini wrote for his opera Semiramide. This lighthearted work is, in fact, the start of an opera with a tragic plot.

We hope you enjoy the program.