Friday, 3 June 2011

Canon to right of them, canon to left of them


Writing about that canon Sumer is icumen in the other day brought to mind another extraordinary canon. (A canon is a sort of round, a tune that harmonises with itself when sung at staggered intervals.)

Here's one of very little musical interest, despite having been written by Mozart. It's dated 2nd September 1788.

Grechtelt's enk, grechtelt's enk, wir gehn im Prater.
Im Prater? Im Prater? Izt lass nach, i lass mi net stimma.
Ei beileib, ei jawohl, mi bringst nöt aussi.
Was blauscht der? Was blauscht der? Izt halt's Maul! I gib d'ra Tetschen!

It's a little fly-on-the-wall snapshot into the Mozart household in Vienna. He and his wife Constanze had two surviving children, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver. Here's the (loose) translation from the very coarse Viennese dialect:

Mozart: Get ready, both of you, get ready, both of you, we're going to the Prater.

KT and FX: To the Prater? To the Prater? Give me a break, don't talk daft.
Oh right, oh indeed, you're not getting me to go out.
What's he yapping on about? What's he yapping on about?

Mozart: Shut your gob, now, or I won't half fetch you a clout.

The Prater is a large park in Vienna. I don't expect its famous Ferris wheel, scene of Harry Lime's murderous philosophising in The Third Man, was there in Mozart's day. I wasn't sure whether this homely little scene improved or detracted from my impressions of Mozart as an artist of the greatest sensitivity and refinement, but then I saw in my mind's eye the four of them, Mozart, Constanze, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver singing it - it's not hard - round the dinner table, or marching line abreast to the Prater, having finally got their coats on. Could they have dissolved into fits of giggles? (Not, I hope, those idiotic giggles we had to put with from Tom Hulse playing Mozart in Peter Schaffer's film Amadeus.) Definitely to Mozart's credit, I think.


(This is the only trustworthy portrait of Mozart as an adult, painted from the life by his brother-in-law. It's unfinished: he's supposed to be sitting at the piano. The pair to it, which was finished, shows his wife Constanze.)

15 comments:

Z said...

Hang on, I used to live next door to a Canon and I never once saw him staggering, let alone at intervals. He was a model of sober rectitude.

Were there cuckoo clocks in Mozart's day, do you suppose?

Christopher said...

In September 1788 sumer was igoen out, I imagine. May I ponder your question over supper (we're just going out) and come back to you later, if sober rectitude allows?

Z said...

Absolutely, dear heart. I'm just preparing asparagus and pork chops for our own supper. Have a delightful evening.

Dave said...

I know a couple of canons. They are both round.

Sarah said...

I like the unfinished painting, infact the bottom bit is the most interesting bit. M looks a little serious. I was reading something the other day which inspired thought (!).
Do you have to be tortured to produce amazing music/art ? Hmmm...or under the influence of alchohol/narcotics ?

Christopher said...

Thank you, Z, it was a most delightful evening: Praline and chicken rissoles lightly fried in olive oil served with a mixed salad of rocket, lettuce, spinach leaves, tomato and poppy seed, with a hazelnut and balsamic vinaigrette, followed by fillet of salt cod with a timbale of white and black rice, all in a butter and lemon sauce, followed by a framboisine, strawberry ice-cream served with a raspberry coulis, flaked almonds and whipped cream.

It came to me during the night that Mozart, with his unfortunate scatological bent, would have enjoyed a miasmatic clock which blew raspberries on the hour.

Dave: You will have noticed that my title alludes to your electricity company. I did this especially for you.

Sah: No narcotics, anyway. Maybe the odd gasper. I think this is a mistaken belief of some artists, on the grounds that narcotics substitute for the extremely hard work and conquest of domestic circumstances which the production of good art requires, sometimes - as I'm sure you know - a torture in itself.

Rosie said...

Nice menu!

Z said...

Sounds delicious. My nectarine, so juicy and delicious a minute ago, now seems to lack coulis.

That clock sounds brilliant! Gassy emissions are not to be desired, I think, but how jolly to have a clock which made everyone collapse in giggles on the hour.

Rog said...

If you draw two wheels on that picture and a handle you've got Mr Mozart in a Pram.

Sorry to raise the tone....

Christopher said...

Rosie: Yes, it was. That was the €18,60 menu. For the same price I could have had salade paysanne with a poached egg on top, followed by entrecôte with mushrooms, followed by strawberry tart, which is what J. had.

Right. I see how things are. Rog gets to make Z.'s clock and Sarah gets to paint Mr M. in his pram.

Sarah said...

Will you lot stop talking about food...i'm on a diet...well getting in training for 3 weeks of fasting anyway.

I LOVE cuckoo clocks !

Christopher said...

Mm. Well, it takes all sorts. I can't say I've ever eaten a cuckoo clock.

letouttoplay said...

I suppose you didn't acquire the recipe for the strawberry tart? I love strawberry tart.

Christopher said...

Mig: I will try and get it for you, just as soon as I've dealt with someone playing filly fods up the way.

letouttoplay said...

I can't fink who that would be Christopher! Outrageous!