Happy 261st Birthday, Mozart!

Jan 24, 2017

We play a lot of Mozart on WCRB, and for good reason. Though he's getting a little up there in years - his 261st birthday would be this Friday, January 27 - there are still so many wonderful performances and recordings of Mozart's music that prove it is just as relevant, timeless, and powerful as ever. In fact, 2016 was an all-around great year for the Austrian maestro (his CD sales are evidence enough of that).

We're also lucky to have a wealth of excellent Mozart performances in Boston, and many of those performances are available on-demand here on our website. In honor of Mozart's upcoming birthday, here are five of my favorites:

1. The Magic Flute, from Boston Baroque

Credit Kathy Wittman

Recorded April 16, 2016 at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

One of Mozart's best known and, in my opinion, most fun operas comes to life under the direction of Martin Pearlman. Sparkling, shimmering music, a stellar cast, and a historically-informed performance make this Magic Flute one of the most exciting operas of the year - and one of the best ways to celebrate on Mozart's big day.

2. Requiem with the Handel and Haydn Society

Credit Stu Rosner

Recorded October 4, 2015 at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

You haven't heard Mozart until you've heard it on period instruments. In this concert, the Handel and Haydn Society play the last piece Mozart ever wrote, on instruments like the ones his orchestras would have used. It's Mozart as it's meant to sound - what more fitting tribute is there?

3. An all-Mozart program with Pinchas Zukerman

Recorded July 15, 2016.

Looking for something to help keep the winter winds at bay? This'll do the trick just fine. Head to Tanglewood in July, where renowned violinist Pinchas Zukerman joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as both soloist and conductor in Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 25 and 39, and Serenade No. 7, "Haffner." With all the joy and warmth of summer, this concert will banish even the darkest cloud.

4. Symphony No. 39 with Charles Dutoit

Recorded October 29, 2016.

If you're like me, you're a music nerd who thinks it's fun to spot subtle variations in different performances of the same piece. In that case, I recommend listening to this directly after the Pinchas Zukerman concert linked above - the Boston Symphony Orchestra is also playing Mozart's Symphony No. 39 here, so it's a perfect example of the difference a conductor can make. Charles Dutoit - who calls Mozart "the crown of the 18th Century" - leads a brilliant performance here.

5. Piano Concerto No. 27 with Menahem Pressler

Credit courtesy of the artist

Recorded November 26, 2016.

This is an extraordinary performance not so much because it's Mozart (though I think that's a given), but because of the performer. Ninety-three-year-old pianist Menahem Pressler's career spans six decades, and he's been at the top of his field for all of them. As for Mozart's music, Pressler once spoke about its ability to go "right to the heart" - and you can certainly feel his longstanding love for Mozart in this performance. 

For even more Mozart, check out absolutely all of the Mozart-related content we have on our website, and enjoy!