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Kyle Vanderburg Music in the Classical Period September 25, 2010 Turkish Music in Die Entfhrung aus dem

Serail The opera Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail, or The Abduction from the Seraglio, is considered to be one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts greatest works and was his most successful musical venture during his lifetime. The opera, with libretto by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner and Gottlieb Stephanie, was written for the Austrian Nationalsingspiel, a project of Joseph II of Austria to bring German-language works to the masses. Josephs plan in creating a nationalsingspiel was to refine the Germanic culture of his people. The Viennese culture of this time was increasingly influenced by French language and culture which deeply troubled Joseph. The nature of the Holy Roman Empire as a collection of different states including Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Germany, and parts of Italy did now allow for sufficient national pride. Joseph believed that a common language would unify and strengthen his empire.1 It was through this cultural vehicle that Mozart was able to compose his opera Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail. Turkish and Exotic influences in subject matter The plot of Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail takes place in Turkey, a place that was of much interest during Mozarts time. The Holy Roman
1 Elizabeth Manning, Mozart's Entfhrung: An Anniversary, The Musical Times 123, No. 1673 (July 1982), 473.

Empire shared a border with the Ottoman Empire, and up until the late seventeenth-century the two countries were usually at odds with each other. This time of peace between the two empires sparked an interest in exoticism and orientalism, which greatly influenced Mozarts opera. The opera has as its cast Belmonte, a Spanish noble and his betrothed, Konstanze, with their servants Pedrillo and Blonde, in addition to Pasha Selim and his servant, Osmin, and a chorus of Janissaries. Here we can see the concept of east (the barbaric Pasha Selim and Osmin) meeting west (the civilized Belmonte, Pedrillio, Konstanze, and Blonde). Konstanze and Blonde, we learn, have been kidnapped by pirates and sold to Pasha Selim, to be placed in his harem. Konstanze and Blonde deflect Pasha Selims and Osmins advances, Blonde is given to Osmin as a slave and Pasha Selim attempts to force Konstanze to love him. Belmonte and Pedrillo arrive to save Konstanze and Blonde, but must outsmart the inferior Turks. Belmonte and Pedrillo are arrested, and the two couples are taken to Pasha Selim for judgment. Pasha Selim realizes that Belmonte is the son of his enemy, and decides he does not wish to imitate his enemy. The two couples are released.2

2 Julian Rushton, Entfhrung aus dem Serail, Die, l.c. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 25, 2010).

Throughout the subject matter, the exotic lifestyle is depicted as lavish but immoral. Osmin acts as Mozarts caricature of the Turkish people, being unsophisticated and crude and humorous more than anything else.3 Turkish and Exotic influences in orchestration Musically speaking, Mozarts selection of instrumentation is one of the more obvious methods the composer employs to create a sense of Turkish and oriental setting. Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail is scored for typical classical-period orchestra with flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets in pairs, two timpani, and strings. This instrumentation fits with Mozarts operas after Idomeneo (when he added pairs of clarinets to his orchestra).4 However, Mozart also adds instruments that create a Turkish sound, including triangle, cymbals, bass drum, and piccolo.5 As these instruments were not in common usage in the western musical tradition, their sound was enough to depict images of exotic locales.

Turkish and Exotic influences in musical material While plot and orchestration show exotic influences quite clearly, the actual music shows a great deal of perceived Turkish influence as well. In this way, Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail is not a Mozart opera that sounds Turkish because of its plot and orchestration, but rather it sounds Turkish
3 Ibid. 4 Katherine T. Rohrer, The Orchestra in Opera and Ballet, in The Orchestra: Origins and Transformations, ed. Joan Peyser (New York: Billboard Books, 2000), 314. 5 Ibid.

because Mozart was writing the music to sound Turkish, beyond that accomplished by instrumentation. In Mozarts time, the prevailing idea was that things labeled Turkish or oriental were largely simple, barbaric, and unrefined. This perception of Turkish culture is clearly seen in the music of Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail, which combines Mozarts usual complexity with a simplified harmonic structure. While the instrumentation is reminiscent of janissary orchestras, Mozart ties the Turkish feel into the music itself, with a compositional process that lacks rhythmic and harmonic variety. Additionally, the rising and falling third in opening theme and the leaps up and down of a fourth in Vivat Bacchus point towards a Turkish character.6 While Mozart had several pieces that have moments that are classified as his Turkish style, including a section in his fifth violin concerto K. 219, the 'alla turca' movement from the piano sonata K. 331, and the aria 'Alles fiihlt der Liebe Freuden' from Die Zauberflte, none of these works are as overtly oriental as Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail.7 Mozarts careful use of Turkish musical material, instrumentation, and plot served the composer quite well in this operatic endeavor.

6 Elizabeth Manning, Mozart's Entfhrung: An Anniversary, The Musical Times 123, No. 1673 (July 1982), 473. 7 Benjamin Perl, Mozart in Turkey, Cambridge Opera Journal 12, No. 3 (November 2000), 219.

Bibliography Manning, Elizabeth. "Mozart's Entfhrung: An Anniversary" in The Musical Times 123, No. 1673 (July, 1982): 473-474. Perl, Benjamin. "Mozart in Turkey" in Cambridge Opera Journal 12, No. 3 (November, 2000): 219-235. Rohrer, Katherine T. The Orchestra in Opera and Ballet. In The Orchestra: Origins and Transformations, edited by Joan Peyser, 309-335. New York: Billboard Books, 2000. Rushton, Julian. Entfhrung aus dem Serail, Die. In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, 6411 (accessed September 25, 2010).