There’s oodles of reasons to be excited for the upcoming Mozart Jupiter concert (it’s this weekend! Do you have your tickets?). Guest conductor Joshua Weilerstein will lead from the podium, guest cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan will grace the stage, and the program includes the west coast premiere of Joseph Hallman‘s imagined landscapes: six Lovecraftian elsewheres. Dig a little deeper, though, (as Christine Gengaro did in her program notes), and you’ll see that each of the three pieces in the program comes from a different century. How ’bout we hop in the time machine and the visit the periods when Mozart and Saint-Saëns were putting pencil to paper and composing the works that’ll be performed this weekend?
First stop: 1872. In Paris, 37-year-old composer Camille Saint-Saëns finishes construction on his Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, which will go on to become one of the highest-regarded cello concertos ever written. Meanwhile, across the pond in the United States, it was a time for construction from coast to coast. Chicago was in the beginning of a major building boom, after the Great Chicago Fire wiped out 17,000 buildings just one year prior. It also took 300 lives and left 100,000 people homeless.
While Chicago was rebuilding after a disaster, thousands of laborers in New York City were also hard at work changing that city’s skyline. They were in the third year of building the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which would ultimately take 13 years to complete. By 1872, the foundations for the tower were well underway. It wouldn’t be until 1875 that the towers would be completed. Eight years were needed to then string the cables and build the road, before opening to the public in 1883.
It wasn’t just cities that were taking shape in 1872 – the wild, wild west was also changing. Yellowstone National Park was established as the first national park that same year. The enormous park, measuring 63 miles by 54 miles (over 2.2 million acres!) is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and was named after the river that begins in the park and flows northeast for nearly 700 miles, before joining the Missouri river near the Montana/North Dakota border.
Next stop: 1788. 32-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart puts the final touches on his 41st Symphony in August of that year. It eventually becomes known as the “Jupiter” symphony, and it’s the final symphony he will ever write.
While that chapter is ending in Europe, a new beginning is quickly blossoming on our shores: the birth of the United States. The Revolutionary War ended five years earlier, and the founding fathers have written a new constitution. By the time 1788 rolls around, three states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey) have already ratified it, and by the end of that year, two more states, Georgia and Connecticut, join the list. Just a few months later, in February 1789, George Washington was elected our country’s first President, and he was inaugurated two months after that, at Federal Hall in New York City.
1789 also saw the introduction of the first pasta machine to the United States, brought over by none other than future president Thomas Jefferson, when he returned from his travels in Paris. Pasta was all the rage in Paris kitchens at the time, and Jefferson became enamored. He probably wasn’t the first to make pasta in the US, but he was the first to make it using a machine (which basically extruded dough into macaroni shapes), and he greatly popularized it by serving it at dinners at Monticello.
Final Stop: 2015. Come at the Alex Theatre or Royce Hall, and be a part of history when Joseph Hallman’s imagined landscapes: six Lovecraftian elsewheres is performed on the west coast for the first time!